By: Lily Riesett
On July 23, 2021, rapper Kanye West held a rather out of the ordinary event in honor of his tenth studio album, “Donda.” Named after his late mother who died of plastic surgery complications in 2007, this album has stirred up commotion not just in pop culture news, but across all news categories.
This excitement began in July of this year, when Kanye announced a listening party for the album at the Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta. This was very different from his “The Life of Pablo” listening and Yeezy Season Three release which was held in Madison Square Garden. While this was presented in the form of a fashion show and was very successful, the listening in Atlanta was definitely out of the ordinary. West spent the evening standing in the middle of the stadium surrounded by fog. He danced and made gestures while his new music played in the background for about an hour before leaving.
To follow up this strange evening of events, Donda was not released at the time it was announced to be: on July 23at midnight. West’s record label and representatives made no comments on this. A second similar event in Atlanta happened later in July.
Kanye held a third listening event for his album in Chicago during the end of August. Here, he had a recreation of his childhood home built and set on a hill in the middle of an arena. He had circles of dancers and black cars surrounding the set. West then decided to bring two guests on stage with him, rapper DaBaby and rock musician Marilyn Manson.
DaBaby has recently come under fire for making homophobic remarks at Lolapalooza where he singled out fans who have been effected by HIV/AIDS. Manson has been accused of sexual abuse and grooming by his partner Evan Rachel Wood. The two publicly became a couple when she was 19 and Manson was 38. Jon Caramanica of the New York Times suggests West chose these guests to show that even those who have sinned can be forgiven.
After a lengthy amount of anticipation for the album’s release, Donda was dropped on streaming services on Aug. 29, over a month later than it was supposed to be. The album features 27 songs, being over two hours in length. He has many popular artists featured on the album, such as Jay-Z and Lil Baby. West continues using religious themes in this album, talking to and about God in most songs. For example, he raps “God got us, baby, God got the children.” The illusions to God and Christianity can be considered one of the focal points of the album.
Music fanatic and St. Mary’s student Greta Michels was one of the fans anxiously awaiting the drop of Donda. Michels excitedly exclaimed when asked about the album “ “Off the Grid” is my favorite song!” Michels, like many other Kanye fans, is not a fan of his confusing, problematic actions. She acknowledges “Kanye is problematic, but he makes good music.”