Kanye’s Label Releases “Donda”


Kevin Mazur - Getty Images for Universal Music Group

Kanye West hosts a “Donda” listening event at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta, Ga. on July 22

After a year of speculation, delays, and several listening events, Kanye West’s label released his highly anticipated album, “Donda,” without the artist’s permission.

Kanye West first announced the albumin November 2019 as a sequel to his October 2019 album, “Jesus is King,” “Donda” was initially slated for a 2020 release date, but was delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

West named the album in honor of his late mother, Donda. “My mom (Donda) saved my life!” An emotional West said during a presidential campaign rally, “There wouldn’t have been no Kanye West! Because my dad was too busy!”

Pusha T announced the album on July 19 2021, after years of speculation, and that West would be holding a “Donda” listening event on July 22 at the Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta Ga. A commercial for the album featuring the song “No Child Left Behind” was then played during game six of the 2021 NBA Finals teasing the event. Following the commercial, Def Jam Recordings confirmed a release date of July 23 for the album and that the listening event would be streamed on Apple Music.

The listening event was a huge success, but the album was not released the following day as announced due to it being unfinished. Jay-Z had reportedly recorded his verse in the stadium on the song “Jail” only hours before the event began. West took up temporary residence in a small locker room in the stadium to continue working on the album with artists such as Playboi Carti and 2 Chainz recording their verses in the days leading up to the second listening event.

West hosted a second “Donda” listening event on Aug. 5 at the stadium, which was reported to be the official release of the album. However, the album still did not release after the event. It was reported following the event that more artists would be recording verses in the stadium for the album, such as Kid Cudi.

West then announced on Aug. 18 that there would be a third listening event on August 26, this time at Soldier Field in Chicago. West’s manager also announced the album would release the day after the event.

The third listening event was the most streamed event on Apple Music to-date. There was some controversy around it as both DaBaby and Marilyn Manson were featured. DaBaby was recently involved in a controversy after making anti-LGBTQ+ comments and Manson faces allegations of sexual assault.

During the event, West lit himself on fire and later remarried his wife, Kim Kardashian, who recently announced their divorce.

The album, however, did not release the following day. West released screenshots of a text thread claiming that the album did not release due to DaBaby’s manager not approving DaBaby’s verse on the track “Jail Pt. 2.”
Fans were surprised that Sunday morning, Aug. 29, when a censored version “Donda” released with no official announcement from West. The track “Jail Pt. 2” featuring DaBaby was also not available for the first few hours. Later in the day, West claimed on his Instagram page that his label had released the album without his approval and that they blocked “Jail Pt. 2” due to DaBaby’s manager not approving his verse.

The album was met with mixed reactions by both fans and critics, but everyone still wonders as to what was really going on behind the scenes with the release of the album. Some speculate that the album might not have been released for some time if West’s label had not released it themselves. Others believe that West was waiting for Drake (who West was recently involved in drama with) to release his new album on September 3.

Many fans believe that “Donda” still is not fully finished and that West has an uncensored deluxe version of the album on the way. Time will tell how well this album is received and what really went on behind the scenes.