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Kanye West’s New Album: Everything We Know About ‘Donda’

Kanye is well-known for suggesting that an album will be released weeks, months or even years before it actually drops. In fact, we’ve been waiting for an album called Donda since 2019—or even earlier. Nonetheless, this week, a lot of big names in the music industry began to reveal the announcement of a listening party for the new album, in addition to some early reviews from folks involved in the project who have been lucky enough to already hear it.

Then last night during the NBA Finals, a Beats commercial aired featuring Sha’Carri Richardson and a song from the forthcoming album. The commercial also included a release date for the album: this coming Friday, July 23rd.

If you haven’t been paying attention, Kanye hasn’t released a project since 2019’s Jesus Is King, which was viewed by many as a bit of an underwhelming entry from one of the greatest rappers of all time. His last truly incredible project was his collaborative effort, Kids See Ghosts, which released back in June of 2018 alongside his solo album, Ye.

There have been rumors of an album titled Donda (Kanye’s late mother’s name) for an incredibly long time; many thought the 2019 gospel album was going to be the the long-awaited project, but then the album was pushed back. It finally seems like Donda is truly on its way.

So let’s take a moment to break down everything we know about the album so far ahead of its release later this week.

The Listening Party:

This is where most of the rumors began. The formal announcement of a listening party, hosted at Mercedes-Benz Stadium, seems incredibly hopeful. It would be difficult to back out of this kind of announcement, but we’ve been hurt before. Kanye famously released Life of Pablo in the form of a Madison Square Garden fashion show back in 2016. So we may potentially be in for a similar situation, one in which the new album is broadcast live and then releases on streaming platforms some time soon after the live reveal. Tickets are available here, but as of now it’s unclear if there will be a live broadcast of the event available to the general public.

What Insiders Have Said:

Since the album cover reveal on Monday of this week, numerous people either involved with the album directly or the music industry in general have tweeted references to the forthcoming project. One of. the most major social moments implying the release of the album came from Def Jam Records. The tweet simply reads, “YZY SZN,” implying that, Yeezy Season is finally upon us.

Aside from the tweet from Def Jam, a few other insiders and artists have apparently heard the record, furthering fans’ hopes that we will get the album this week. Apparently, the Brooklyn Net’s Slim Reaper himself has already heard the album. In a series of tweets, media personality Justin Laboy revealed that West had played the album for him and Kevin Durant. And his review is incredibly glowing.

Praise doesn’t get much higher than “Album of the Year.” Laboy’s tweets were effectively some of the first signs that the album would drop this week, but many were still hesitant, as there was no confirmed release date available until the NBA Finals game last night.

The First Listening Party:

Although the public (or, hopefully public) listening party is set for this Thursday, there are rumors that an insider listening party took place last weekend. Although none of the rumors have been confirmed, it would explain how so many people became acutely aware of the album’s drop seemingly out of nowhere.

The first listening party supposedly took place over the weekend in Vegas, but as no major players have confirmed its existence, we’ll stick to waiting for the Thursday event before we really get excited.

Other Hype:

Numerous artists and brands have gotten in on the hype over the past few days, either tweeting directly at Kanye or generally positing when the album will release.

Although tweets like this don’t confirm anything about the album’s existence, one hopes that the growing public clamoring for the album will put some pressure on the man himself to give the community what we want.

Potential Features:

Very little is known about who will be featured on the album, but we do have a few fragments of information from social media over the past few months. First of all, Kanye himself was featured on Pop Smoke’s second posthumous release, Faith, which released earlier this month. The possibility of a Pop Smoke verse from before his untimely passing making it onto the record is definitely on some people’s minds.

Additionally, Tyler, the Creator was seen in the studio with West. It’s unclear exactly what form this collaboration would take, but the Tyler/Kanye fans (like myself) are certainly hoping that Felicia the Goat will make an appearance on Donda.

Then there are, of course, the frequent Kanye collaborators who we could hope to see on the album. We haven’t seen a Jay-Z / Kanye collaboration in quite some time, and I wouldn’t hold your breath, but hey, we can dream. Bon Iver’s Justin Vernon was also once a frequent collaborator of West’s, but he hasn’t been featured on one of his projects in a few years. There’s of course Kid Cudi, but the album’s apparent billing under Kanye’s individual name as opposed to their joint project, Kids See Ghosts, seems to suggest that Cudi won’t be appearing on the forthcoming album.

Lil Nas X also announced this week that he would be dropping a song featuring Jack Harlow, produced by Kanye on the 23rd.

Although this collab doesn’t necessarily confirm anything, it begs the question: If Kanye is producing a Lil Nas X song, will Lil Nas X be appearing on Kanye’s album?

There are also numerous rumors floating around about a Pusha T collab, a Baby Keem appearance and a Lil Baby feature. Again, these are rumors from social media, so we’ll have to wait and see.

The Release Date:

The Beats commercial from last night’s NBA Finals seems to be a pretty solid sign that Donda will release this Friday, July 23rd. We have been hurt before, so I’m definitely still a little hesitant to confirm that the album will definitely drop on all streaming platforms this week, but it would be difficult to drop out now.

TL; DR:

All in all, we know that Kanye is hosting a listening party this Thursday, July 22nd, at Georgia’s Mercedes-Benz stadium. We also know that a couple of people have apparently heard the album already, implying that it is finished—or close to finished. Based on last night’s commercial, we also know that the album should drop this Friday, July 23rd. We’ll just have to cross our fingers and wait.

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