Kanye West and deadlines haven’t been the best of friends in recent years, from his post-drop The Life of Pablo updates to his continued pushing back of Jesus Is King to his, er, late registration for his failed 2020 presidential run. That all looks to have finally changed with the imminent arrival of his new 10th studio album, Donda — the one West promised for release June 23 when he announced tonight’s Atlanta listening event for it earlier this week, on July 19, and teased the album with a Beats ad starring American sprinter Sha’Carri Richardson on July 20. That is, if you forget that West previously promised and failed to deliver Donda 364 days ago on July 24, 2020, under the previous title DND: WTH CHLD. And that he’d teased an album a month before that, in June 2020, called God’s Country. And that Yandhi is still nowhere to be found. But hey, we’re here now, and that’s progress!
The project is named after West’s late mother Donda, who died in 2007. When he was readying DND: WTH CHLD last year, West released the song “Donda” on July 12, what would’ve been her 71st birthday. The Beats spot also included a clip of the song “No Child Left Behind.” Following West’s 2019 gospel album Jesus Is King and work with his Sunday Service events, Donda keeps the focus on the rapper’s revitalized faith, with multiple tracks invoking God and an opening gospel track, but also includes some stuff that’s Not Safe for Church. The album, in its current form (as of press time, the “final” version isn’t officially available on streaming services), features a reunited THRONE (yes, Jay-Z) on its final track, Pusha-T, Travis Scott, Lil Baby, Baby Keem, Jeremih, Lil Durk, Roddy Riich, Pop Smoke, and more, with spoken word interludes by its namesake. At one point on the album Kanye declares, “this the new me, get used to me.”
The sold-out listening event for the album took place at Atlanta’s Mercedes-Benz Stadium Thursday night, and streamed globally on Apple Music; typically, it started two hours late, with Kim K and the kids in attendance, along with Khloe. It may not be the only time to experience Donda live this weekend, either, with rumors of West playing a surprise set at Rolling Loud Miami this weekend.
Aside from Donda, West has been busy musically, producing Lil Nas X’s much-teased song “Industry Baby” (also out tonight), producing the upcoming reunion album by Chicago rap duo Abstract Mindstate (out August 6), and guesting on the posthumous Pop Smoke album Faith alongside business partner Pusha-T. And he’s been busy in his personal life too, ironing out the details of his divorce from Kim Kardashian and spending time with Bradley Cooper’s ex Irina Shayk. Praise (?) Yeezus that he found the time for all this, too.