Will the nerve-wracking wait for "DONDA" pay off?
Edit: Scroll to the end of the article for a surprise.
A few days after the third Kanye West’s "DONDA" listening party, a question arises: will it be really worth it? Before answering this question, however, we rewind the tape, so as to refresh our memory about the troubled editorial and compositional history of the Chicago rapper’s tenth studio album.
Ye (short by which it is universally known and which seems to soon become his official name too - replacing "Kanye West") fans have been accustomed to the artist’s constant rethinking of his works - and the resulting whimsical marketing maneuvers - is known history, just think of the famous "The Life of Pablo": certainly not an instant classic, but widely appreciated and revalued by critics and public for its fragmentary interpretation key, unveiled also through several reissues and the addition of new valuable tracks after the album official release. Perhaps, however, the atmosphere in this case looks quite different.
This new project from one of the genre major revolutionaries - who was also able to supplant the gangsta-rap current which characterized primarily hip hop until the early 2000s - seems to shift the focus from music itself to an unprecedented form of entertainment. It is no longer simply a matter of mocking the audience with continuous delays, forcing them to watch passively and cultivate the hype, rather than involving the public in the final part of the creative process. After the release of last year’s singles "Wash us in the Blood" (with the participation of Travis Scott) and "Nah Nah Nah" (with the participation of Dababy and recently removed from streaming platforms, probably because of his unpleasant statements about the LGBTQ+ community and AIDS) West seems to have changed completely course, proposing in 2021 summer a listening party that opens the doors to his new masterpiece titled in honor of his deceased mother, Donda West.
Initially, fans (poor deluded!) expected that this open to all premiere - since live broadcasted on Apple Music at the same time as the Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta proceeded - would be immediately followed by the publication of Ye’s tenth effort. And yet, this was not the case. West locked himself in the stadium for two weeks, making it his temporary home, in order to improve the DONDA’s version previously heard by the audience. All this by launching cryptic messages through a brand new Instagram account that for a month now displays nothing but Kanye publishing and abruptly deleting posts from the doubtful meaning (some had even suggested that the listening parties were alluding to Dante’s Divine Comedy, referring to Hell, Purgatory and Heaven). And so after a short time Ye again involves his fans in a second listening party that culminates with his theatrical ascent to heaven, fueling, moreover, some background of no small importance. Not only the presence of Kim Kardashian on both occasions (just last February the same filed a divorce petition against her husband), but especially the apparently renewed partnership with Jay-Z; several reliable insiders, in fact, argued that the return of the "Watch the Throne" diptych could only mean one thing: DONDA would be flanked this year by the follow-up of the album which consecrated Ye and Jigga as fathers of the post-2000 rap game.
That’s great, isn’t it? Of DONDA, however, not even the shadow, despite now the unofficial versions of the album are easily available on non-official streaming platforms. And now, with the third listening party, Kanye is back to talk about himself, permeated by that motto that holds tight and which he pronounced in 2016 after "The Life of Pablo"’s release: Ima fix Wolves. The artist set himself the goal, after a concert, to improve the track in question and reinsert it in the album. This is exactly what is happening with his tenth album. West is constantly changing the songs’ tracklist and the content revealing a work in progress to the limit of extreme perfectionism, but that risks to damage the piece itself. Just think, after the last event, what happened either to Kid Cudi’s featuring or Jay-Z’s one, apparently replaced to leave room again for Dababy.
The latter, among other things, appears as one of the event’s highlights: Ye was accompanied in this third version of the listening party by two guests who result in an unusual combination: the aforementioned Dababy and, heard, Marilyn Manson. This was before he set fire to his childhood home reproduction (where he lived with his mother Donda) and personally set himself on fire. Finally taking up the final track "No child left behind" to propose a reconstruction of his marriage with Kim Kardashian: in the last minutes of the event the cameras focus on a woman - probably the Kim herself - who wears the happy event famous dress (worn back in 2014 in Florence) and approaches a smiling Ye, while the lights go out.
So, as I said before, will it be worth it? Personally, you can not answer with simple "yes" and "no". Kanye’s new album is undoubtedly better than the first raw version we heard, but it risks to change too much its shape. It has the potential to become an instant classic, however the hype that revolves around it and that now focuses on dissing addressed to fellow Drake, could explode at any moment.
To conclude, DONDA will really be published on September 3rd in the so-called “set in stone” date, also announced by Drake for his “Certified Lover Boy”, so as to be able to compete directly with the rival and try to replicate the 2007 enterprise against 50 Cent? I don’t think it matters anymore. What is interesting is instead the increasingly fascinating turn that Kanye’s music assumes, as a key to music industry and of today’s society interpretation. Ye becomes more and more the master of a music in continuous evolution and influenced by online streaming, but trying to keep high the quality and experimentation bar, through disposable music chaos, and that’s what matters.
Edit 1: Yes, I know! Just as you read this article Kanye has already published his "DONDA". Just one day after writing this piece, before its release, Ye decided to impress everyone and release the album. Yeah, Kid Kudi and Jay-Z are both inside and it looks like "The Throne" is coming back! Instead, it seems that Dababy has encountered some difficulties: "Jail Pt.2", the track with his featuring, has been made users unattainable due to a manager’s of him unclear decision, we’ll see.
Edit 2: Kanye did it again! Or maybe he didn’t... A day after DONDA’s release, the artist stated on his Instagram account that the album was released without his approval by Universal, which would also have blocked the track "Jail Pt.2". Shortly after, however, just the piece in question was back available on digital stores. Is that just another stunt? We’ll see.
The surprises didn’t end here though! You can listen to DONDA with 30 free days on Amazon Music:
Articolo a cura di: Antonino Palumbo