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Another Exhaustive Guide to Another Exhausting Ye Album

Donda, Donda, Donda, Donda, Donda, Donda (2). Photo: DKC News

Here we go again. Less than six months after Ye released his tenth studio album, Donda, the rapper formerly known as Kanye West is on to a sequel. In grand Donda tradition, Ye debuted a number of songs presumably from Donda 2 in front of an audience at Miami’s LoanDepot Park on Tuesday night. Despite the musician originally saying the album would be released the same day, there were no signs of new music by the time Alicia Keys, Jack Harlow, Migos, Marilyn Manson, and more took stage — not even on the Donda Stem player, where Ye said the album would be exclusively released in protest against streaming services. So what do we know about Donda 2 at this point? We’ll try to explain in the eaziest way we can.

You said Donda TWO? Already?

That’s right. Ye has already moved on from the Grammy-nominated Donda, which he debuted in July 2021 and finally gave a formal release in late August before announcing the Stem player in October and a deluxe version of the record in November. From there, he seems to have gone straight to work on the sequel. Steven Victor, former COO of GOOD Music, told Complex on January 3 that Ye had begun working on Donda 2, his first follow-up album. (He called it the rapper’s “new masterpiece.”) Ye released the song “Eazy,” featuring the Game — and scarred our eyes with that cover art — on January 15 before confirming news of Donda 2 in an Instagram post January 27. That’s also when he revealed the release date, once again setting off the confusion of a Ye album cycle.

So who’s involved?

With the announcement of Donda 2, Ye revealed that Future would executive-produce the album. The news came shortly after Ye joined the Atlanta rapper for an appearance during his Rolling Loud California set in December. Soon after, Rolling Stone reported that Ye was continuing his controversial collaboration with Marilyn Manson, who has a number of sexual-assault and abuse allegations against him. The producer Digital Nas told Rolling Stone that Manson had been in the studio with Ye “every day.” (He also said Ye was working with “some producers from Yeezus” and “a bunch of producers from Donda 1.”) A representative for Manson later told Newsweek he “is continuing his creative collaboration with Ye.”

One big name not involved with this round of Donda is Kid Cudi, whom Ye had a falling out with in the lead-up to the release. Cudi featured on Donda’s “Moon” along with a number of other Ye projects including Kids See Ghosts. Days before the album’s debut, Ye said in a handwritten Instagram post that Cudi would not be on the project “because he’s friends with you know who.” “You know who” would be Pete Davidson, the current boyfriend of Ye’s ex Kim Kardashian West, whom he previously called out on “Eazy” (“God saved me from that crash / Just so I can beat Pete Davidson’s ass”). Cudi replied to Ye’s since-deleted Instagram, saying he didn’t want to be on the album and calling the rapper a “fuckin dinosaur.” He later tweeted, “You’re whack for flipping the script and posting this lie just for a look on the internet. You ain’t no friend. BYE.”

The February 22 event gave a better idea of who to expect on Donda 2. Ye played new songs that seemed to feature Harlow, XXXTentacion, Migos, Baby Keem, Future, and Travis Scott. Thanks to some choice samples, the album also features Vice-President Kamala Harris and Kardashian West. The song with Harlow began with a clip of Harris’s heavily memed “We did it, Joe” phone call after winning the 2020 presidential election. (Ye does know his name is Jack, right?) Meanwhile, the Kim K. sample is pulled from her SNL monologue from October, in which she discussed her relationship with Ye.

That can’t be the only time Kim comes up, right?

Oh, no. Donda 2 — or at least what we’ve heard so far — doubles as the latest installment in Ye’s extremely public, increasingly messy divorce from Kardashian West. On one new song, “Security,” Ye raps, “Never take the family picture off the fridge / Never stand between a man and his kids,” presumably in reference to his claims that she’s keeping him from seeing their children. (Though press photos show that his children were apparently present at the Miami event.) He goes on to apparently threaten Davidson, rapping, “Y’all ain’t got enough security for this” — a seeming reference to reports that Davidson upped his own security after Ye released “Eazy.” Another song, “Flowers,” referenced a text Davidson sent Ye about not wanting to “get [in the] way of” his children with Kim, which the rapper posted on Instagram. “He not a threat, send him a text, put him on time-out,” Ye raps on the song. On another, “True Love,” which features the late XXXTentacion, Ye opens up about coparenting his four children, rapping, “When I pick them up, I feel like they borrowed.”

Kardashian West, who appeared at a Donda event to reenact her and Kanye’s wedding, has yet to respond to the new album. Davidson, for his part, seems to be having fun with it — on his newly activated Instagram account, he added a link to a clip of The King of Comedy’s Rupert Pupkin saying, “Better to be king for a night than schmuck for a lifetime” before deleting his Instagram once again. Guess we’ll have to wait for an SNL “Weekend Update” appearance for more.

Well, what else happened at the Donda 2 event?

Nothing except a looped heartbeat noise for more than two hours before the show began. Once it started, Ye again set fire to a replica of his childhood home, echoing what he did during the Chicago Donda listening party, which ended with Ye setting himself on fire. Migos appeared during their feature, while Pusha T dropped by to rep his new song, “Diet Coke.” Harlow appeared for his song after teasing on Twitter that it “should be an interesting night.” In another reference of the Chicago event, Manson and DaBaby appeared during the Donda song “Jail.”

In a departure from past Donda events, the Donda 2 debut featured live performances: Alicia Keys and Fivio Foreign came out for their new song, “City of Gods,” which features Ye; the Sunday Service Choir stopped by for a quick set; and Playboi Carti closed out the show alongside Ye and Fivio for “Off the Grid.”

Where can I listen to Donda 2?

As of now, on the Donda Stem Player — but only some of it. Ye said in a since-deleted Instagram post that he’d eschew “oppressive” streaming services for his new album, choosing to release it solely on his Donda Stem player, a $200 gadget originally meant for remixes of Donda songs. (“Eazy” had previously been released as a Spotify exclusive for its first 24 hours.) As of Wednesday, Ye had uploaded four songs: “Security,” “Pablo,” “Broken Road,” and “We Did It Kid.” Unless we’re meant to believe that’s the full album, it looks like this thing is far from done-da.

Two days after 2/22, Stem Players are finally returning on their investment. Pitchfork reported that a version of Donda 2 was uploaded to the Stem Player on February 24. It’s called “V2.22.22 MIAMI” and includes 16 songs from the Miami event — but not all of them, the outlet noted, such as “Mr. Miyagi” featuring Playboi Carti. There is no album art, and per Pitchfork, the album seems to be “unfinished.” Like we haven’t heard that one before.

This post has been updated throughout.

Another Exhaustive Guide to Another Exhausting Ye Album