It was supposed to arrive on 23 July, and over a month later, Kanye West has finally released his long-awaited album, Donda.
West, a notorious perfectionist, spent weeks putting the finishing touches on the much-delayed album, his 10th studio record which is named after his late mother.
The rapper, 44, launched the 27-track record on to streaming services on 29 August after a number of promotional events that did not culminate in the release of new music.
It’s finally materialised, but the storied saga behind the record rolls on: West has claimed on Instagram that the album has been released without his approval.
Here is everything you need to know about it.
How was the album revealed?
Donda had a “global premiere” event on 22 July at a sold-out listening event at the Mercedes Benz Stadium in Atlanta, Georgia, which was live-streamed globally by Apple.
Wearing a red puffer jacket, matching trousers and orange shoes all of his own design, the Yeezy mogul donned what appeared to be a brown rubber mask while standing on a white stage.
He entered the stage area without warning and the album began playing without a formal introduction from its creator.
Two weeks later, the album still hadn’t been released, and West held a second such event at the same stadium on 5 August, which was once again live-streamed through Apple.
The second album launch party was similar to the first, with Kanye the centre of attention on the stadium floor, while fans packed the stands.
This time, the rapper had set up a bed in the middle of the arena (West was living in a room inside the stadium while he continued to work on the project), as the latest iteration of the record played at volume.
The show was slightly more of a spectacle this time around, with West hoisted biblically into the air as hundreds of black-clad extras surrounded him towards the end of the event.
Kim Kardashian West made a show-stealing cameo at her estranged husband’s third album launch event (this time taking place in Chicago), emerging from the audience in a wedding dress months after filing for divorce from the rapper.
West built a replica of his childhood home at the Soldier Field stadium, inviting almost 40,000 fans to the venue, and the event, which typically of West started almost two hours late, also offered on-site vaccinations.
West was accompanied by two musicians who have recently been engulfed in controversy – shock rocker Marilyn Manson, who has denied multiple allegations of sexual assault, and rapper DaBaby, who was criticised for homophobic comments made at a music festival.
At the recent listening event, West replaced Jay-Z’s verse on the track ‘Jail’ with one by DaBaby, though the original guest appearance has since been reinstated.
Both ‘Jail’ and ‘Jail pt2’ give co-writing credit to Brian Warner, the real name of Marilyn Manson.
Is it any good?
Donda has attracted a mixed reaction from critics, who praised its vision but criticised its length.
The Times critic Ed Potton gave Donda four out of five stars and described it as “sprawling and sometimes brilliant”.
He wrote: “Not all of Donda is that sublime. Its hour-and-a-half running time is excessive, and there are moments when you feel as if you have been kept for slightly too long on the doorstep by a Jehovah’s Witness.
“When it’s good, however, it’s very, very good. A typically ambitious and painfully honest album that veers, like its creator, between tortured and rapturous.”
Rhian Daly of NME gave the album three stars and noted: “There is no artist in the world capable of making a flawless record that spans nearly two hours – Kanye included.
“There are plenty of seeds of what could be good ideas here, and some legit great tracks, but had he taken a little more time to edit things, this could have been a classic – focused, poignant and powerful.
“There are a handful of songs on this tracklist that are nothing short of brilliant and show West in an introspective, thoughtful mood.”
Who features on the album?
Donda includes verses from Syleena Johnson, Francis and the Lights, Jay-Z, Vory, Playboi Carti, Fivio Foreign, The Weeknd, Baby Keem, Travis Scott, Lil Durk, Lil Yachty, Young Thug, Don Toliver, Kid Cudi, Stalone, Tony Williams, Conway The Machine, KayCyy, Westside Gunn, The LOX, Jay Electronica, Swizz Beatz, Chris Brown, the late Pop Smoke, Roddy Ricch, Shenseea, Sunday Service, Rooga, Ty Dolla $ign, Marilyn Manson, and DaBaby.
What is the tracklist?
The full Donda tracklist is as follows:
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