Finding 'DONDA': A Timeline of the Elusive Kanye West Album

Over a year after its announcement and several rescheduled release dates, will ‘DONDA’ ever arrive?

Music 
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Kanye West‘s highly-anticipated record DONDA is over a year late. The studio album, which supposedly serves as the followup to 2019’s JESUS IS KING, was initially announced as early as May 2020 with a July 2020 release date. During the second half of 2020, the record suffered a possible name change, a delay and a fear of the project being shelved indefinitely, but a few months into the new year, it seemed like fans might actually be getting closer to hearing the finished product.

New release dates were scheduled a full year after it was first announced to drop, listening events were held and tracks were teased in advertisements, but when the album failed to materialize on those dates, some began to wonder if DONDA, much like YANDHI, will just be another Kanye West pipe dream. It remains to be seen whether the record will actually release after the Chicago listening party, but while you hold your breath, take a look back at the long journey of DONDA in HYPEBEAST’s detailed timeline.

May 24, 2020 – Kanye Reportedly Releasing God’s Country Album

Renowned artist Arthur Jafa shared in a conversation with Michèle Lamy that West was working on a new record. “It’s called God’s Country and this will be, like, the first single, I guess, off of it,” he shared. “I don’t know if I’m ’posed to not be announcing it or whatever. I may just be spilling the beans.”

June 30, 2020 – Kanye Releases “Wash Us in the Blood” With Travis Scott

“Wash Us in the Blood” initially served as the debut single from the upcoming record, with the track featuring an appearance from Travis Scott and additional mixing from Dr. Dre.

July 12, 2020 – Kanye Previews “DONDA”

The beginning of the DONDA album essentially began with a track of the same name, which West previewed on Twitter on July 12, 2020. In the now-deleted tweet, the song hears his late mother reciting lines from the first and second verses of the KRS-One hit, “Sound of da Police,” over a choir-based sonic backdrop. It also arrived with a visual showing behind-the-scenes footage of the two having a good time together and honoring her memory before the preview abruptly cuts.

July 19, 2020 – Kanye Reveals DONDA Album Tracklist

About a week after previewing the “DONDA” track, he shared a hand-written list of 20 songs, including the Travis Scott-featured single “Wash Us in the Blood,” and confirmed that his upcoming album will be called DONDA rather than the previously-announced God’s Country. He also revealed a release date of July 24 with the hashtag #2020VISION.

July 21, 2020 – Kanye Reveals Second DONDA Tracklist

A few days after the initial tracklist, Ye released a completely different DONDA tracklist while retaining the July 24 release date. Clocking in at 39 minutes and comprised of 12 tracks, the list no longer includes “Wash Us in the Blood” and its titles seemingly have a gospel tone.

July 26, 2020 – Kanye Reveals DONDA Album Art

Two days after missing its original release date of July 24, the artist shared an image of what was supposed to be DONDA’s album art. The cover features an infrared scheme of orange and red that take the shape of the people and sun/moon in the sky, highlighted by green mountains and purple and white clouds. Spray painted hues of green and soft orange are splattered in the background, heavily contrasted by the sun/moon’s purple and black shadow.

September 26, 2021 – Kanye Previews “Believe What I Say”

By late September, West teased a 40-second preview of a song titled “Believe What I Say.” The teaser arrived with a home video shot on a boat and hears him sample Ms. Lauryn Hill‘s 1998 hit “Doo-Wop (That Thing).” Only a few bars from the rapper can actually be heard in the snippet, including a line that hears “Just one time for the record/Just one time for the record/Don’t agree with the message/Don’t agree with the methods.”

October 16, 2020 – Kanye Releases “NAH NAH NAH”

A few months after announcing his presidential candidacy, Ye released “NAH NAH NAH” as his campaign’s theme song. His attention was diverted to his foray into politics, with many fans speculating that DONDA will be shelved indefinitely. He conceded in November. As of writing, the single has been removed from streaming platforms.

March 7, 2021 – Kanye Supposedly Working on DONDA Again

According to CyHi the Prynce, the G.O.O.D. Music head went back to working on DONDA after a “vacation.” The news arrived a few weeks after Kim Kardashian filed for divorce, asking to end their seven-year marriage.

July 17, 2021 – Tyler, the Creator Spotted in Studio With Kanye

By mid-2021, Tyler, the Creator was seen working in the studio with West, with Consequence writing “Summer 21’” as the caption of the video. Fans also spotted a whiteboard in the background that supposedly features a rough tracklist of over 10-tracks.

 

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July 19, 2021 – Justin LaBoy Confirms Kanye Played DONDA for Him and Kevin Durant

Respectfully Justin host Justin LaBoy revealed on Twitter that Ye played DONDA for him and Kevin Durant in Las Vegas, writing, “Man listen! The production is light years ahead of it’s time, and the bars sound like he’s broke & hungry trying to get signed again. Any artist who plan on dropping soon should just push it back.”

July 19, 2021 – First Listening Party in Atlanta Announced by Pusha T

Pusha T announced the first DONDA listening party in Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta, slated for July 22. The poster was a simple text-only post uploaded on Instagram.

 

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A post shared by Pusha T (@kingpush)

July 20, 2021 – Kanye Previews “No Child Left Behind” During NBA Finals and Confirms July 23 Release Date

The track “No Child Left Behind” was previewed during a TV spot for Beats during the NBA Finals. The one-minute visual, which featured Sha’Carri Richardson, also confirmed a release date of July 23.

July 22, 2021 - First Listening Party in Atlanta Takes Place

West debuted DONDA to a sold-out Atlanta stadium, sporting what appeared to be his unreleased adidas YEEZY 1020 boot and a red version of his YEEZY Gap Round Jacket. Also present at the listening party were Kardashian and their kids.

 

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July 24, 2021 – Justin LaBoy Shares New August 6 Release Date

A day after missing its supposed release date, LaBoy announced on Twitter that DONDA’s new release date is now scheduled for August 6: “KANYE WEST WILL MOVE THE RELEASE DATE OF DONDA TO AUGUST 6TH. THANKS FOR YOUR PATIENCE[.] HE WANTS TO GIVE HIS FANS THE BEST POSSIBLE PRODUCT WITHOUT RUSHING ANYTHING. HE LOVES YALL WITH ALL OF HIS HEART. GOD BLESS[.]“

July 26, 2021 - Kanye Supposedly Moves In Atlanta Stadium to Finish DONDA

Ye moved in the Mercedes-Benz Stadium, adamant to finally finish DONDA. In the now-deleted Instagram post and during a subsequent Apple Music livestream, his living quarters featured a simple bed, television and weights.

 

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A post shared by HYPEBEAST Music (@hypebeastmusic)

July 30, 2021 – Second Listening Party in Atlanta Announced

Abou “Bu” Thiam, West’s manager, confirmed to HYPEBEAST that they will be holding a second listening party for DONDA in Atlanta. It was initially billed as a “DONDA album release” event, scheduled for August 5.

 

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A post shared by Bu Thiam (@__bu)

August 3, 2021 – Kanye and Mike Dean Tease The Weeknd Feature

Kanye shared a screenshot of his recent call log, tagging Mike Dean who re-posted the same image on his Instagram. Fans pointed out three calls from The Weeknd timed at 1:14 a.m., 2:17 a.m. and another one from the day before, and the XO Records head’s manager Wassim “Sal” Slaiby dropped by the comments section of Dean’s post to write “XO” in emojis.

 

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A post shared by MIKE DEAN (@therealmikedean)

August 5, 2021 – Kanye Teases Dr. Dre-Produced Song “Glory”

In another teaser with Sha’Carri Richardson, West previewed the Dr. Dre-produced song “Glory” on a Beats ad.

August 5, 2021 – Second Listening Party in Atlanta Takes Place With New Mix and Features

For his second listening party, fans pointed out a better DONDA mix and additional guest features from the likes of Kid Cudi, Fivio Foreign, Westside Gunn, Conway The Machine, 070 Shake, Jay Electronica and The Weeknd. Ye closed out the listening party with “No Child Left Behind” as he got harnessed up and away from the stage. He also released merch from the event online, along with an album pre-order.

August 7, 2021 – DONDA’s Apple Music Page Delays Release Date to August 15

After missing its scheduled release date for the second time, eagle-eyed fans spotted the release date on the DONDA Apple Music pre-order page change to August 15. This was not confirmed by anyone from West’s team, however, and the date eventually changed to August 20.

August 9, 2021 – Kanye Supposedly Moves to Different Stadium

KayCyy, an artist who worked closely with West during DONDA, revealed in a now-deleted tweet that they are moving to another stadium. However, he did not share if they will be staying in Atlanta or leaving the city.

August 15, 2021 – Mike Dean Debunks Rumor of His Departure From DONDA

Producer Mike Dean reaffirmed that he is still working on DONDA after rumors spread that he had left the project. “I haven’t quit anything. The album continues. Lol. People read too much into tweets. Lol,” he tweeted, adding, “Also. It’s good not to be breathing toxic stadium air and to be in sunny la for a while. Mexico soon!”

August 18, 2021 – Third Listening Party in Chicago Announced

A third DONDA listening party was announced, this time taking place at Soldier Field Stadium, Chicago on August 26.

August 19, 2021 – Bu Thiam Confirms DONDA Is “Absolutely” and “100%” Dropping After Chicago Event

Bu Thiam addressed fan concerns on the comments section of his Instagram post announcing the Chicago listening party, confirming that Ye is “absolutely” and “100%” dropping DONDA after the next listening party.

 

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A post shared by Bu Thiam (@__bu)

August 21, 2021 – Kanye Clears Instagram and Posts Sole Photo of Childhood Home

Despite being more active on social media the last couple weeks, West cleared out his Instagram page and posted a sole photo of his childhood home. The home was sold by Donda West in 2004, bought by artist and Chicago activist Rhymefest in 2016 and supposedly re-purchased by Ye last year.

 

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A post shared by ye (@kanyewest)

August 21, 2021 – Kanye Reignites Drake Beef With Threatening Group Message

The peace and quiet between Ye and Drake was short-lived after the former shared a screenshot of a group text that included Pusha T. Sending an image of Joaquin Phoenix as Joker, Ye texted, “I live for this. I’ve been f*cked with by nerd ass jock n****s like you my whole life. You will never recover. I promise you.” Fans are speculating that the pair are back at war after Drizzy supposedly dissed Kanye on Trippie Redd’s “Betrayal.”

August 23, 2021 – Kanye’s Childhood Home Supposedly Being Recreated in Chicago Stadium

Just days before the listening event in Chicago, it was rumored that West is recreating his childhood home in Chicago’s Soldier Field Stadium. While it is not confirmed, the former Instagram post of his childhood home is hinting that it is a strong possibility.

 

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August 24, 2021 – Kanye’s Files to Legally Change His Name to “Ye”

Just days before the Chicago listening party, a report from TMZ claims that he filed in court to legally change his name from “Kanye Omare West” to just “Ye,” his longtime nickname. The interesting move will see him drop his last name which has been used in a number of his tracks, most notably on the cut “Wake Up Mr. West.”

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