Being one of the greatest rap icons of the 21st century, millions of fans were ecstatic when Kanye West announced his upcoming tenth studio album in July of last year! Kanye is well-known, after all, for his ever-changing sound, each and every one of his previous nine albums offering something entirely different – understandably, everybody was excited to hear what he would come up with next.
However, almost a year on from the album’s scheduled release date, the world is yet to get its hands on DONDA, named after West’s late mother.
So, what do we know so far – and when can we expect the drop of this long-awaited new album?
New music from Kanye West was already highly-anticipated, with his last album Jesus Is King, having been released at the tail-end of 2019. Luckily, it seemed fans wouldn’t have to wait much longer.
Initially titled God’s Country, Kanye’s upcoming album was first announced accidentally when collaborator Arthur Jafa – a cinematographer behind some accompanying visual material for the album – let slip that he was working on the project with Kanye during an Instagram livestream last May. Just a month later, Kanye announced the project officially, during his #WESTDAYEVER promotional campaign on June 26th, teasing an upcoming music video directed by Jafa and subsequently announcing that the song would feature on his upcoming tenth studio album. Millions were hugely excited by the news, quickly speculating on the album’s content!
It was a couple of weeks afterwards that Kanye would give fans yet another taste of the new music, sharing a snippet of a track titled Donda on his Twitter on July 13th, featuring a spoken word introduction from his late mother. Just five days later, Kanye announced that the overall name of the album had been changed to DONDA, too. He also gave fans the most hotly-anticipated update – the release date. DONDA was to be released just six days later, on July 24th 2020.
Unfortunately, as we now know, this isn’t exactly how things panned out…
Three days before the announced release date, Kanye announced that DONDA would instead be released alongside a movie. Even now, the movie itself is something of a mystery – we’re yet to find out what its title will be (though it may share the name of the album), what it will be about or the all-important date that we can expect its release.
Instead, Kanye released the album’s cover on July 25th, once again via his Twitter account. The cover is something of a conceptual image, appearing to show three mystery figures ascending towards an eclipse, above hazy mountains.
The next update came in September, as we received yet another sneak preview of what we can expect DONDA to sound like, with a snippet of a track called Believe What I Say posted by Kanye. Fans were excited to hear that the track samples Lauryn Hill’s Doo Wop (That Thing) – it’s not the first time Kanye has sampled Lauryn Hill, either, with 2004’s All Falls Down sampling her song, Mystery Of Iniquity.
As of right now, the cover, album title, track names and snippets of Donda and Believe What I Say are all fans have to help them speculate on which direction Kanye West is taking with this long-awaited new album.
Where Is DONDA?
Nine months on from its previously announced release date, the world is still waiting for DONDA. So, where is it… and are we ever going to hear it at all?
Given that friends and collaborators of Kanye West seem to have heard the album for themselves, with rapper Consequence describing the album as ‘fire’, it looks like DONDA may be complete – yet still remains unreleased.
Although, as a well-known perfectionist, it isn’t the first time that Kanye has held back on releasing an album in order to put together the finishing touches! DONDA’s predecessor, Jesus Is King, was also delayed multiple times before its eventual release, having had additional recordings added as recently as the very same month it was made available to fans.
In fact, The Life Of Pablo, Kanye’s seventh studio album, was initially set for release in 2014, eventually being released in 2016 after three years of development and several name changes.
However, it also wouldn’t be unheard of for Kanye West to leave an album unreleased indefinitely. To this date, Kanye has left at least ten albums unreleased for varying reasons, despite having announced the projects and with recording on several of the tracks being completed. Many of the tracks, or at least parts of them, have since been leaked online for fans to listen to, but it looks as though they’ll never see a full release. Could DONDA face the same fate?
There is also the possibility that DONDA’s delay is down to Kanye’s many other non-musical projects, such as his ill-fated presidential campaign and continuing work on the Yeezy brand, taking up much of his attention. There are only so many hours in the day, after all – even if you are Kanye West!
Finally, Kanye hasn’t had the smoothest road within his personal life over the last year, either – he’s currently dealing with a highly-publicised divorce from his wife, Kim Kardashian-West, having recently moved out of the home that he shares with her and their four young children. Under these circumstances, it’s perfectly understandable that his musical projects could be left on the back burner for a while.
Despite everything, fans everywhere are hoping that DONDA will avoid the same fate as previously unreleased albums such as Cruel Winter and Love Everyone.
We certainly hope so, but as of yet, only time will tell.
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