Kanye West: musical genius, political figure, psychiatric mystery. Since 2004, West has perplexed the media and music fanatics alike, creating quite the reputation for himself. The delivery of his newest project, an album titled Donda after West’s late mother, has left fans more confused than ever. After three “official” promised release dates and what felt like an infinite amount of obscure Instagram posts, West has finally put out one of the most anticipated albums of the year. One can’t help but wonder, was Donda worth the wait?
On each release date, West hosted a listening party for what was supposed to be the completed form of Donda. Attendees were shown bits and pieces of what would eventually morph into the final project. The album clearly communicates the huge impact Donda West had on her son’s life. West utilizes metaphors and overarching themes to communicate to his listeners his vision.
One theme that has persisted in West’s music lately has been his religious faith. The listening parties were no exceptions to this trend. Theories in West’s online fanbases about the religious themes within the performances circled abundantly. The first party, which was hosted in late July, featured West in a puffy red jacket, red pants, and a black mask that covered his whole head, and fans speculated this was a nod towards the Devil. The music was unrefined, almost gritty, and the theme of the first party was “Hell.”
His second party in early August was different. It started out with a livestream, titled “Countdown to Donda,” of West in his studio at the Mercedes-Benz Stadium. Adorned in spikes, a bulletproof vest, and not much else, West streamed his day and the guests coming in and out to record, which included Chance the Rapper, Steve Lacy, Lil Yachty, and many more. The show itself displayed West with a few props, including his bed from the studio. Fans designated this showing as a representation of some sort of purgatory. Dark colors and the countdown supported the theory. West ran around in his all black attire while the songs played in the stadium and, as a finale, was lifted into the sky during “No Child Left Behind.” This was thought to be a representation of rising to heaven.
The final listening party took place on August 26 in his hometown, Chicago. West released promotional photographs on his Instagram of white door frames and bright art, so that’s what was expected to be shown. It was so much more than that. A recreated version of West’s childhood home with a giant cross on it was spotlighted on the set, and shocking guests such as DaBaby, Kim Kardashian, and Marylin Manson were brought to perform alongside West.
Donda, all in all, was a true work of art. Bringing together faith, music, and his love for the late Donda West, Kanye West showed listeners what pain is. He continued on with his commitment to non-vulgar language and didn’t swear for the entirety of the project. Choirs fill the songs with emotion and poise, and articulate rappers beautifully took us through the journey of Donda. Songs such as “Jail pt 2” and “No Child Left Behind” complement each other through their emotionally rich musicality. The way West manages to transition from one song to the next never ceases to amaze.
Post-release, West said on Instagram, “Universal put my album out without my approval and they blocked ‘Jail 2’ from being on the album.” It seems like the label got fed up with the delays and decided to go through with the release without West’s approval. The claim about “Jail pt 2” being blocked from the album was later nullified and the song is now readily available to the public.
Whether West wanted to share his project with the world yet or not, it’s here and fans are in awe. In the one hour and 48 minutes of a look into his mind, there is still more significance to be uncovered. With each album he creates, a new layer is revealed and a new persona unlocked. Fans are eager to learn everything they can about who the new Kanye West is and what he will go on to accomplish.