Kanye West ‘DONDA’: Everything We Know So Far

‘JESUS IS KING’ meets ‘YEEZUS’? Here’s what early reports have revealed.

Music 
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It’s confirmed: Kanye West’s DONDA is coming. Named after ‘Ye’s late mother, it will be the long-anticipated tenth solo studio album from the rapper, and follows on from JESUS IS KING, the record-breaking album that scored him a Grammy for the Best Contemporary Christian Album. 

While we don’t know what DONDA will be like as a full project, rumors have already begun circulating online, and a teaser of a new song called “No Child Left Behind” (which could be titled after his own struggles following his mom’s death) surfaced last night featuring the U.S. Olympic team athlete Sha’Carri Richardson

In recent years, West has pivoted his music towards his religion even more than before, and while the teaser doesn’t sound like JESUS IS KING, there are clear references to God once more. It’s been implied that DONDA is another religious-leaning album, but that sonically it will span many of West’s previously explored genres. 

Visually, there are some signs of what the next era of West will be like. Ahead of a listening event that’ll be live-streamed on Apple Music on July 22 at 8 p.m. EDT, West returned to Instagram for the first time since his attempt to become the President of the United States. Aside from uploading the video for “No Child Left Behind,” ‘Ye dropped a carousel of images captioned: “Yeezy season approaching/Fuck whatever y’all been hearing/Fuck what, fuck whatever y’all been wearing/A monster about to come alive again!!!!!!!!.” The lyrics are taken from “On Sight”, the opener to the YEEZUS album, which acts as a kind of manifesto to the content of that record.

The IG images show a custom gold chain that incorporates his children’s names, Kanye wearing a full face mask and chainmail gloves, and a fit layout featuring a Bottega Veneta jacket and boots, Saint Laurent jeans, a pair of Rick Owens sunglasses, and lots of jewelry. If visual cues and styling is anything to go by, it feels like Kanye could be going back to his Maison Margiela mask-wearing YEEZUS concert era — something we’re sure would be welcomed by the masses.

As for what DONDA might sound like, there’s little to go off other than the tweets from those who have heard it. Justin LaBoy was one of the first to break the news of DONDA’s soon-coming reign, taking to Twitter to say “The production is light years ahead of its time, and the bars sound like he’s broke [and] hungry trying to get signed again. Any artist who [plans] on dropping soon should just push it back.”

The social media personality went onto say “Kanye West album is really done. When it drops this week, we probably not going to listen to anything else for a while.. Let me go enjoy all the current artist I’m listening to until then. God bless.” Yet despite his appraisal of DONDA — finally noting it’s the “album of the year” — he didn’t add much in the way of concrete examples to get all excited for. 

So far, it’s been confirmed that a track with Lil Baby (who went to see Kanye in Wyoming) will feature on DONDA, while others note that voice clips of Donda West herself will litter throughout the album. Many are hoping for the three-way collaboration between ‘Ye, Travis Scott, and Future to appear, but leaked (or should we say speculative) tracklists actually show Playboi Carti and Travis Scott jumping on “Praise God.” 

One redditor claims they attended the listening party, and notes that the album features “theatrical production, heavy synths, and heavy bass. A lot of tracks piano heavy. Lyrical as F*CK” — but of course, reddit commenters should be taken with a pinch of salt. Others online are noting a potential Tyler, the Creator collab, which is more likely given that the Call Me If You Get Lost rapper was recently spotted in the studio with ‘Ye

The inaugural listening party has been partially leaked online and we do know that Baby Keem does feature on one of the tracks. Additionally, as noted by Nigel D Presents on Twitter, “the first song they had 4 young prodigies play pianos in the center. Featured some audio from his mother I believe,” so all-in-all we can expect quite the auditory experience that seems to grow from pianos and a rumored interlude that just repeats “Donda” over and over, into heavy-hitting tracks with some of the best new-gen rappers (although not Lil Durk as news just broke that the Chicago rapper “missed the jet”), and perhaps some classics like Pusha T.  

Kanye West is due to drop DONDA on July 23, 2021. In line with the artist’s notorious perfectionism, we wouldn’t be surprised if last-minute alterations were made. But it’s fair to assume that the final result will sound a little like Nigel D Presents’ verdict: “The album is really about having faith in God and overcoming adversity. Kanye speaks on personal struggles and struggles others face. Positive messages that you can turn up to.”

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