Big news in the music world this week as Kanye has slowly began ramping up promotion for his 10th studio album, Donda, unofficially officially due out this Friday.
The past ten years or so Kanye has developed a routine when it comes to launching something. Be it new music, sneaker, clothing collab, whatever it is, he will pop back up on social media and begin casually dropping bread crumbs.
The Kanye-obsessed fans, much like Taylor Swift's, will begin drawing conclusions and sniffing things out but there's never any need.
Because a day or two later, Kanye can never keep it in and ends up telling the entire world what is coming, along with a whole ton of philosophical takes, and brain droppings of his as a bonus.
The big news last night, during the closeout game of the NBA Finals, was this new Beats by Dre ad featuring a 60-second snippet from his previously unheard song "No Child Left Behind" and featuring lightning rod Sha'Carri Richardson.
(sidebar - Why does everything need to be an advertisement? Movie trailers, now album teasers, all disguised as commercials. Also, the CEO of Adidas' head had to have exploded when he/she saw this ad and its opening frame with Sha'carri Richardson in her Nike's. Right?)
From there, Kanye hosts a "listening party" to debut the album to friends, family and sycophant celebs, which he did last weekend.
This started in Wyoming with theYe album release. We all remember the leaked pics of Chris Rock dancing around a campfire and Jonah Hill tweeting out he was moved to tears and blah blah blah.
There's also the money grab, label pushed "Fan Listening Party" which they've been doing the past 3 or 4 albums. This one started with the Madison Square Garden fashion show where they simultaneously debuted The Life of Pablo.
This week's featured show is actually taking place tomorrow night, in Atlanta (where Kanye was actually born).
Now there's no real leaked info on tracklists, or even is this is going to be another Gospel album, or regular hip-hop.
Donda is West’s first album since 2019’s Jesus Is Born, a gospel-inspired LP he recorded with his Sunday Service Choir. Last December, he dropped an EP with the Choir, the five-song Emmanuel. It’s unclear if Donda will be another Sunday Service collaboration or a return to hip-hop.
Reasons this quite possibly might be a return to regular hip-hop are some of the supposed features - Lil Baby, Pusha T, Tyler, Travis Scott, Chris Brown, Post Malone, Carti, and Baby Keem. AND, he's swearing again. He gave up on his promise to never cuss again.
The only tidbit of info that's come out from this weekend is that there's a song about Kim Kardashian on the album and Kanye cried after he played it for everybody.
HNHH - With all of this Kanye West news comes reports about what fans can expect, including a rumored track titled "Welcome to My Life." The Sun reported that they spoke with a "source" who was allegedly at the church listening event and they claimed that on the track, West allegedly rapped, "Tell the assassins I escaped from Calabasas.”
The source also said, “It’s a very deep, sad song about Kanye, with him reflecting on his marriage with Kim… He talks about the kids and mentions her taking everything. After he played this song he paused for like, two minutes, and cried. It was really somber.”
Not the kind of person that takes solace in other people's misfortunes (fun fact- that is called schadenfreude) at all. But I'm lying if I said I didn't think the best Kanye we get is when he's hurt or emotional.
So this might be a good sign.
Personally, I am really rooting for this album to be good. Not just for selfish reasons as a fan that wants good, new music. But for somebody that feels like they're in one of the most dysfunctional relationships in the world with Kanye. I feel this goes for a lot of people -
You love the guy, and at the same time you hate him. You love what he gave us, the classic music, and memories intertwined with SO MUCH great music he gave us back in his "backpack" days, but you hate him for straying so far away from that, for his crazy rants, takes on certain things, the Kardashian shit, etc.
We got into this in detail this week on the "On The Guestlist Podcast" that White Sox Dave so lovingly let me join in on.
I was in the right place at the right time in Chicago when Kanye was breaking through onto the scene as a rapper.
His mixtape (this was back when mixtapes were actually mixtapes, on CD, not digital downloads) "I'm Good" was all the rage in Chicago.
To get it, I had to go to my favorite neighborhood barber, LA Williams, Who owned Style Zone, and aside from giving the best fades in Rogers Park, also dealt heavily in the mixtape and dvd game.
I got my hands on “I’m Good” and for about 6 months, anybody I made copies for, or told how great the tape was, I referred to Kanye as “Kayne West”. Because that’s how his name was spelled on the cd case I got, and he was an unknown.
A few months later it showed up on datpiff and we all thought they had misspelled his name. Shit was crazy back in the Internet 1.0 days)
Long story short, those songs, and the subsequent “Thru The Wire”, and “College Dropout” were so electric, and endearing to listeners because of the hunger.
Again, Collin, who’s a Kanye megafan, and I got into this in detail on the podcast, where I think I better articulated than I can put into words in a blog, but I believe what made Kanye so great was his desire to prove all the doubters wrong. He was fueled off of people telling him “no thanks”, passing on him, “or thinking he wasn’t shit”. Yes, he overcompensated for, or covered up his self-consciousness with bravado and a superego, but when you’re trying to become the greatest, if you don’t believe yourself to be how the fuck is anybody else going to?
The songs about struggling to make it, coming from nothing, beating the odds, all of it was gold.
I’m not one of those rap fans who is delusional to expect a 50-year-old Jay Z the billionaire to still be rapping about the same subject matter as the 20-year-old living in the Marcy Projects. But somewhere along the way, Kanye completely abandoned his underdog persona, the one us early fans fell in love with.
I don't think his mother, Donda, whom this new album is named after, passing away "broke him" so much as it was the turning point in his life and musical career.
From that point on his focus shifted.
(Again, not sure how many times I can tell you to listen to the podcast if you're still reading up until this point) But gone were the close friends that had come up with Kanye and weren't afraid to be open and honest with him. Replacing this circle were the Hollywood crowd, the dick riders, and worst of all the "yes-men".
Having nobody around to tell Kanye, "hey man, everybody loves how you're constantly pushing the envelope and working your ass off, but this shit is really out there. Not sure it's what the fans really want or what will work" resulted in us getting some really off the wall and wacky shit. (see The Life of Pablo (2016))
Having nothing but "yes-men" who mooch around and constantly suck his dick, telling him he's the second coming of Christ and everything he lets them listen to is incredible has resulted in a real dropoff musically. (And you could also argue has been a detriment to his mental health, but I'm not a psychologist so what do I know?)
Yes-men suck no matter where you are or what you do. You don't want haters, and pessimists, and people who love to just knock others down all the time around you. But you need real friends who have no problem giving you constructive criticism.
This is my issue with these people. They literally concoct ways in which to heap praise on Kanye and call him a genius.
In summation, I am rooting hard as fuck for Donda to be amazing.
We need a win. Kanye needs and deserves a win.
I didn't think so this time last year, I thought he was a lost cause, but then I listened to his interview on Joe Rogan and my mind was blown.
He's actually way fucking smarter than I had already previously thought. He's not trying to cash in on the "God-Squad" with a fake religious schtick. He's legitimately trying to make the world a better place through his voice and platform. He's woke to the global conspiracies and scumbags who really run the world, and he seems like a genuinely good person.
Fingers crossed for Donda.
p.s. - Would Sha'Carri Richardson have made tens of millions of dollars had she not been jobbed by the US Olympic committee and uninvited from competing over Puritan Laws? Or will she make just as much if not more money due to the controversy?
p.p.s. - how crazy is this? time is flyyyyyyyyyying by