The listening party for Donda, Kanye West’s long-awaited upcoming album, began two hours late.
West’s fans, however, are long accustomed to missed deadlines and erratic behaviour from their favorite artist: while waiting, they cracked jokes and created memes about how West had forgotten about the event.
When West finally emerged, he was dressed in a bright red outfit, a homage to Akira, West’s favorite film, which he has described as his “biggest creative inspiration” (whatever your opinion of the man, he has great taste in movies).
The listening party proved to be another experimental performance from West, as the rapper quietly walked around at the centre of the stadium, sometimes falling to his knees, or standing completely still, prompting calls from an increasingly frustrated audience to “say something.”
As the night went on, it became clear that the album was unfinished, as most tracks were played in demo form. Fans, coming down from the heights of feverish anticipation, began to grow frustrated – the surreal listening party was not followed by the release of Donda on streaming platforms.
Chaos and instability have always been integral to the brand of Kanye West, but even loyal fans can get frustrated, with some feeling as though they were being taunted.
On Friday, the new release date for Donda was confirmed by social media star Justin LaBoy, who tweeted:
“KANYE WEST WILL MOVE THE RELEASE DATE OF DONDA TO AUGUST 6TH. THANKS FOR YOUR PATIENCE. HE WANTS TO GIVE HIS FANS THE BEST POSSIBLE PRODUCT WITHOUT RUSHING ANYTHING. HE LOVES YALL WITH ALL OF HIS HEART. GOD BLESS #DONDA #RESPECTFULLY. “
According to TMZ, West never actually left Atlanta’s Mercedes-Benz Stadium, the venue that hosted his listening party; he and his team have reportedly created a studio space and living quarters, as the rapper puts the finishing touches on Donda.
This might sound like a commitment to quality, but some fans are now wondering if the album will ever see daylight; after all, the rapper’s much-anticipated album Yandhi famously failed to materialize, despite a long hype cycle.
Kanye West has built legions of fiercely loyal fans throughout his impressive career, and while many are intrigued by his recent foray into gospel music with Jesus Is King, others are less impressed.
A significant segment of the fanbase longs for a return of the “old Kanye,” for the rapper to deliver an album as bold and innovative as his early works. Many have absurdly high hopes for Donda, expecting an album named after West’s late mother to deliver an almost transcendent listening experience.
There is an (admittedly problematic) association between personal tragedy and great art; that trope is leading some fans to believe that whatever West cooks in his studio might be one of his greatest triumphs, a shining pearl formed from the sediment of West’s messy personal life, recently rocked by divorce and controversy.
Others believe that Donda will remain forever unfinished, and that the (mostly) underwhelming album played to a confused crowd is the final product, even if it was never intended to be so.
It remains to be seen if West can deliver Donda by August 6th, or if the album lives up to lofty fan expectations.
But no matter how many deadlines pass, or how many albums are left unfinished, West’s fans are never going to stop listening; at this point, the melodrama is all part of the fun.