Kanye West’s DONDA: A Comprehensive Timeline
Kanye West and rolling out an album – name a worse combo. The legendary producer and rapper is no stranger to unconventional release cycles. If you were following the drop of The Life of Pablo, you’ll remember the fateful “Ima fix wolves,” tweet, followed by some significant changes to the track list and a couple songs. Kanye is no stranger to being unapologetically detached and perfectionist, so in an odd sense, the mess that has been the DONDA rollout has felt familiar. Let’s recap on the yet-to-arrive opus by the patron saint of Chicago.
DONDA is Announced
(July 18, 2020) In a now-deleted tweet, Kanye announced the title of his next album, DONDA. The post also included the release date, June 24, and a tracklist. There had been rumors swirling around online with random pictures of artists visiting Ye’s Wyoming ranch, but this was the first official confirmation that a new project was on the way.
(July 24, 2020) The day quickly arrives, only a week later, but something else doesn’t arrive: The album. Kanye neglects to explain the absence of his new music, but does share the cover art for DONDA the following day. The tweet has of course been deleted since.
At this point, people were expecting to receive more info on the state of the album, but instead found themselves facing a disappointing- yet not surprising- presidential campaign for Kanye’s run for the Oval Office. Throughout the whole election process, it seemed that the album had fallen by the wayside.
DONDA: Round 2
(March 9th, 2021) Cyhi da Prynce broke the silence when he revealed on VladTV that Kanye was returning to working on the album. Cyhi has been a recurring figure throughout a couple album rollouts for Kanye now. When there is radio silence from the West camp, he’s often the only one to communicate with fans about the situation. He is currently signed to G.O.O.D. Music and has multiple writing credits for Kanye.
(July 18, 2021) Kanye hosts a surprise listening party in Las Vegas. It’s worth noting that at this point, a complete year had passed since the original announcement of DONDA. Justin LaBoy attended the party. The ex-basketball player and culture influencer tweeted “The production is light years ahead of its time, and the bars sound like he’s broke & hungry trying to get signed again.”
(July 20, 2021) A new ad for Beats by Dre features an unreleased Kanye song and a date for yet another listening party. The commercial includes a cameo from Sha’Carri Richardson, who was in the spotlight for being kicked from the games due to marijuana use.
(July 22, 2021) The listening party is held at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta, and there are no videos or pictures allowed. The event streaming on Apple Music reportedly broke the Apple Music Global Livestream record with 3.3 million viewers. The few details that emerge indicate that the album was largely unfinished. Kanye then refuses to leave the stadium, renting a room and returning to work on the album.
(August 5th, 2021) Kanye holds a second listening party in Mercedes-Benz Stadium. The songs are nearly fleshed out entirely, and fans who were able to attend the listening party or managed to find a live stream in select locations say that it’s a return to form for the artist. Online, it was agreed on by many that this second round was a major improvement from the first edition of the album during the original event. I was able to get my hands on the audio from the stream, and I can say I wholeheartedly agree. The album was slated to be released immediately afterwards, but once again there was only silence.
At this point, it’s anyone’s best guess at where the album is along the process, or if it’s even coming out. This wouldn’t be the first album that Kanye has scrapped, although it would be the one closest to completion if he did. After missing the release date of August 5th, Apple Music was updated to show August 13th as the new date. One day prior, it was once again pushed back and now reads August 22nd. I had kept my hopes very reserved after Jesus Is King, and the janky rollouts we’ve got in the past. That being said, hearing the audio from the last stream changed it all for me. I had songs I only listened to once get stuck in my head for days. The world deserves to hear this album, but Kanye West once again fails to deliver to his fans. If you’re anything like the rest of us though, you’ll still be here when it finally drops.