It was a homecoming for Kanye West last night at soldier field. Over 40,000 fans gathered at the football stadium for the third listening party for his still unreleased album, “Donda”. Fans did not have to show proof of a negative COVID test or vaccinations. The listening party offered on-site vaccinations for those who wanted them. Soldier Field was at a limited capacity for the event. The Chicago Department of Public health said they believe transmission is less likely to occur at outdoor events, and Soldier Field took all necessary COVID-19 precautions. While the press was not allowed access to the event, Kanye was generous to others giving free tickets to students at Chicago State University. His mother was the former Chair of the English Department.
“We gon’ praise our way out the grave, dawg. Livin’, speakin’, praise God
Walkin’ out the graveyard back to life. I serve, follow your worth, see with new sight, into the night”-Praise God
Much like Kanye West, the “Donda” listening party was full of creativity, contradictions, and controversies. Kanye built a replica of his childhood home with a cross on top where he performed on the porch dressed in all black with his face covered by a mask. After an almost 2 hour late start, the listening party opened with a poignant video montage of photos of the inspiration behind his latest project, his mother, Donda West. Next, he opened with the song, “Jail” with DaBaby, who appeared with him on stage.
DaBaby has been a source of controversy with homophobic rants and rhetoric. However, DaBaby wasn’t the only figure hanging out on the porch with Kanye. Travis Scott, Marilyn Manson, Shenseea, Westside Gunn, DaBaby, Don Toliver, Larry Hoover Jr., and Rooga joined Kanye on the porch throughout the event. Kanye is no stranger to controversy, and the appearance of Marilyn Manson, currently battling several sexual abuse and assault allegations from various women, seemed unusual.
“I was out for self. I was up for sale. But I couldn’t tell, God made it rain, the devil made it hail
Dropped out of school, but I’m that one at Yale. Made the best tracks and still went off the rail”-Hurricane
The “Donda” Experience featured incredible moments of creativity from Kanye with songs like “Praise God” and “Hurricane.” The intermission showed Kanye levitating in the air with images of his mother in the clouds in one of the more heartfelt moments of the show. The “Donda” experience revealed an artist diving inward, attempting to reconcile his contradictions and heal his pain while remaining unapologetic for who he is now. Kanye has held “Sunday Service” concert events where he has spoken about his reconnection to God and the Christian faith. Throughout the show, there were many moments with a heavy spiritual sound complete with anthems and choirs; however, those poignant moments were followed by songs that showed Kanye’s continued battle with his inner demons and pain. He is still significantly affected by the tragic death of his mother, Donda. Songs like “Jesus Lord” and “I’m not okay” were filled with lyrics describing loss, grief, and confusion.
“I don’t even know what that means…No one knows what it means, but it’s provocative”-Ni**as in Paris (Jay-Z and Kanye West)
Another moment of contradiction included an appearance by Larry Hoover, Jr., son of the founder of the Gangster Disciples (GDs). Hoover Jr. joined Kanye on the porch while a letter he wrote was read aloud. The letter spoke about how Hoover, Jr., felt growing up without his father and how it affected his family. He said his father’s organization was about building the community, and he would never approve of what gangs are doing in neighborhoods. He closed by saying, “Free Larry Hoover.” From there, artist, Rooga, appeared and performed the song “GD Anthem.” The irony didn’t go unnoticed by concertgoers and Black Twitter.
Social media noted omissions from this “Donda” listening event, with Kanye eliminating verses from featured artists Jay-Z, Chris Brown, the Lox, and Kid Cudi. The event ended with a shocker, with Kanye appearing to be set on fire then met by his estranged wife, Kim Kardashian. She appeared in a wedding dress and veil, joining Kanye on the stage in what looked to be a recreation of their wedding. They were seen later leaving holding hands leaving fans wondering if the couple planned to reconcile.
Fans were hoping for the release of “Donda” following the third listening party but were disappointed to learn Apple music updated the release date for Donda to early September. “Donda” reportedly has made over $12 million even though it is still unreleased.
This will be Kanye’s 10th studio album. The album is named after his mother, Donda West, who died tragically in 2007 following complications from cosmetic surgery.
Danielle Sanders is a writer and journalist living in Chicago. Find her on social media @DanieSanders20 and @DanieSandersOfficial