Kanye West just fed Atlanta their daily bread in classic Yeezus form. Following the announcement from Beats by Dre, we learned that the Louis Vuitton Don will be releasing his long-awaited album titled Donda, honouring his late mother. He previewed the album at a listening event open to the public inside of Atlanta’s Mercedes Benz Stadium on Thursday night. It was a sold-out event and upon entrance, the electrifying energy was felt from fans just thrilled to be in the building. The abundance of ‘Ye-inspired fashion, Yeezys and Donda merch (which is of course already re-selling on eBay) confirm that these aren’t your average casual ‘Ye fans. They’re Stans.
After nearly two hours of nothing but a foggy white stage, a heavy organ beat abruptly penetrates the anxious chatter and the crowd goes wild.
We hear Kanye start to sing “We gone’ make it right, now it feels right”, over choir-backed vocals, as he struts boldly across the white stage wearing the sold-out YZY GAP Puffer in red and a pair of not-yet-released Yeezy 1020V boots in orange. The chanting of “We’re gonna be ok, God’s got this” starts with ‘Ye and spreads throughout the stands in harmony.
Donda West herself is the first feature we hear on the project, speaking life lessons in the form of monologues and are sprinkled throughout the album which bring out one of the 808’s and Heartbreak artists’ most vulnerable moments. Kanye is on bended knees in a prayer position like he has caught the holy ghost and needs a minute to himself. The album’s features appropriately include the ‘Heroes’ Lil Baby and Lil Durk, Travis Scott, Baby Keem, Playboi Carti, Roddy Rich and most notably Jay-Z. After years of a speculative and unspoken feud between the two, they have finally reunited for Donda.
HOV claims that “This might be the return of The Throne/Hova and Yeezus like Moses and Jesus/You’re not in control of my thesis.” The pair have not been on a track together since Drake’s “Pop Style” back in 2016, and next month will mark a decade since their joint album Watch The Throne in 2011. The album also features a hard piano riffed, beat building track with the late ‘Dior’ rapper, Pop Smoke, proclaiming “We made it, we made it/Thank God that I made it” in reference to his life prior to money and fame. It’s an inspirational piece that leaves fans wanting more as they chant “Pop Smoke” over and over. When the previewed track ‘No Child Left Behind’ debuts, Kanye falls to his knees in an elongated stance as if he were going to run the 100m dash in place of Sha’Carri Richardson at the Tokyo Olympics.
Overall, Donda seems to be a collection of hard hitting, meditative and sonically distinct sounds that pay homage to the spirit of Mrs. West, the teacher and scholar. Although Kanye is in the midst of a divorce from his billionaire wife, Kim Kardashian, she was in attendance with their children to support the creative genius of the man we all know and love.
With minimal performance and simple abstract stage design, Kanye never spoke a word to the crowd outside of his transparent and profound lyrics. It’s clear that he wants us to prepare for this journey with him and just listen.