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Aug 12 2022 | Hip Hop

Kanye West – Donda

Kanye West – Donda
Hip-Hop, Rap
Release date
August 29 2021
Kanye West
Kanye West – Donda
August 29 2021 | Hip-Hop, Rap

Donda is the tenth studio album by American rapper Kanye West. It was released on August 29, 2021, through GOOD Music and distributed by Def Jam Recordings. West recorded much of the material at multiple locations in the summer of 2021, including Bighorn Mountain Ranch in Greybull, Wyoming. Guest vocals from the Sunday Service Choir, Jay-Z, Playboi Carti, Lil Baby, The Weeknd, Vory, DaBaby, and Marilyn Manson, among others, are featured. West and Ojivolta handled most of the production, with further conditions from the likes of BoogzDaBeast, Dem Jointz and Mike Dean.

The album was initially set for release in July 2020 under the title of God’s Country, but experienced multiple delays. Donda’s first public listening event was held at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta on July 19, 2021, followed by a second event there on August 5 that set a record for the biggest Apple Music livestream ever. The third and final listening event was conducted at Soldier Field in Chicago on August 26, 2021. The album is primarily a hip hop, gospel, progressive rap, and pop record that features elements of numerous genres, including trap and drill. It is both minimalist and maximalist, with a reduced presence of drums and darker lyrical content in comparison to West’s prior efforts. Themes explored include religion, Kanye’s divorce from Kim Kardashian, and Donda West, whose forename is used for the title.

Upon Donda’s release, Kanye West accused Universal Music Group of having released the album without his approval, which the label denied. “Hurricane” was released as the lead single in September 2021, and charted at number six on the US Billboard Hot 100. The album received mixed reviews from music critics, who were mostly divided towards the cohesiveness. Some noted an improvement from West’s previous work and praised the composition, though numerous reviewers criticized the long runtime. Donda initially scored the most first-day streams for an album in 2021 on both Apple Music and Spotify.

Donda stood as West’s 10th consecutive chart-topper on the US Billboard 200, tying the record set by Eminem. It reached the summit in 18 other regions, including Australia, France, and the United Kingdom, becoming West’s first number-one album in the second of the three countries. The album has been certified gold in the United States by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), alongside being awarded the certification in New Zealand by Recorded Music NZ (RMNZ). As a result of their respective allegations of homophobia and sexual abuse, the appearances from DaBaby and Marilyn Manson created controversy amongst audiences. In October 2021, the Donda Stem Player was issued, allowing users to remix the songs and adding three new ones, before a deluxe edition was released on November 14.

Background and recording
On November 18, 2019, West announced on Twitter that he was working with fellow rapper and producer Dr. Dre on a collaborative album entitled Jesus Is King Part II. Nine days later, record producer Ronny J confirmed that he had recently been in Wyoming to work on the album. During a December 2019 concert of his group the Sunday Service Choir in Lynwood, California, West stated that he had always wished he could collaborate with Dr. Dre and added, “Who knew all I had to do was do an album for God and then Dr. Dre would start mixing my beats? Spend your time on God, and he’ll handle the rest.” That same month, fellow rapper Consequence confirmed that he was in Wyoming when asked about recording for Jesus Is King Part II.

In March 2020, West recorded new music in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico, before returning to Wyoming with his family due to the COVID-19 pandemic. That same month, GOOD Music president Pusha T stated in a Discord interview that he had been recording with West recently. Pusha T was planning to meet with West on March 16, 2020, to complete a project, but cited “flights slowing down” due to COVID travel restrictions as the reason for a delay. On March 12, 2020, rappers Westside Gunn and Conway the Machine were spotted in Wyoming recording material with West. Westside Gunn would later confirm his collaboration with West in an interview for Elliot Wilson on Tidal, alongside recalling that they were set to travel to Cabo San Lucas, California after recording in Wyoming, until the COVID-19 pandemic canceled their plans.

During a conversation with French fashion designer Michèle Lamy in an Instagram Live stream on May 25, 2020, American cinematographer Arthur Jafa revealed that he was working on video material with West for a single from his forthcoming album, titled God’s Country. On June 26, 2020, West unveiled a collaboration between his fashion company Yeezy and clothing retailer Gap alongside the launch of the #WestDayEver promotional campaign on Twitter, which accompanied announcements of different projects that same day. One of the projects was a music video for the track “Wash Us in the Blood” that features fellow rapper Travis Scott, directed by Jafa; the video was released on June 30, following a teaser in which West officially announced the album’s title as God’s Country. The track was set to be included on Donda, but did not appear on the final track listing. On July 13, 2020, Kanye shared a snippet on Twitter of the song “Donda”, which featured his late mother Donda West reciting KRS-One’s “Sound of da Police” (1993) and was accompanied by archival footage, including the Wests rapping together.

On July 21, 2020, Kanye West announced a release date of three days later and posted a revised tracklist, two days after he had tweeted another tracklist and subsequently deleted it. West also confirmed the title had been changed to Donda in honor of his mother, who he had also named his creative company after. Ultimately, the album missed its planned release date. On July 25, 2020, West tweeted out an accompanying album cover, showing an infrared scheme of orange and red mirroring the shape of the people, sun, and moon in the sky, backed by green mountains alongside purple and white clouds.[12] West later shared a possible replacement cover via Twitter, which was an adaptation of a Louise Bourgeois gouache painting that had been created in 2007, the same year as Donda West’s death, and included in Bourgeois’ series Les têtes bleues et les femmes rouges (2015). A woman is shown in monochromatic red on the painting and a matching ponytail flows behind her, while a fertility idol is also partially present. After Kanye West posted numerous potential covers, a plain black square was ultimately used as the artwork for the album.

West sent out a series of tweets about his relationship with Universal Music in September 2020, mostly addressing his desire to buy his master recordings back from them. The rapper asserted that these efforts were obstructed by his signed contracts, succeeding this by tweeting multiple images that supposedly showed the contracts. On September 26, 2020, West shared a 39-second snippet of the track “Believe What I Say” to Twitter. West later released a song entitled “Nah Nah Nah” on October 26, calling the song his 2020 presidential campaign’s theme music; it includes him referencing his candidacy. On November 13, 2020, West released a remix of “Nah Nah Nah” that features fellow rappers DaBaby and 2 Chainz. After the original and remix were both removed from streaming services in the lead up to Donda’s release, neither of them made the final cut. On November 23, 2020, Consequence expressed enthusiasm about the album, describing it as “fire”.

West’s manager Abou “Bu” Thiam teased the release of Donda on June 8, 2021, commenting on Gap’s Instagram post announcing their jacket with Yeezy, “WestDayEver. Album OTW!” On July 17, Consequence posted a video of West in the studio with Tyler, the Creator on Instagram.[30] The caption of the post suggested a late 2021 album release.[30] On July 19, Pusha T announced on Instagram that West would be holding a listening event for the album in three days at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta. Audio products company Beats by Dre then premiered a commercial during game six of the 2021 NBA Finals with athlete Sha’Carri Richardson, scored by West’s track “No Child Left Behind”. The commercial also showed the release date for Donda as July 23, 2021, and marked one of the first snippets of the music. French producer Gesaffelstein later revealed that he produced the song, marking his second time working with West after having previously contributed to the rapper’s sixth studio album Yeezus (2013). Immediately following the commercial’s debut, Def Jam reaffirmed the album’s release date and revealed that the Atlanta listening event would be globally livestreamed on Apple Music.

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