Why I won’t be streaming 'Donda'
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Let’s talk about “Donda”.
The rollout of Kanye West’s latest project, dedicated and named after his dead mother Donda West, has taken his usual circus to a level that is making even being a casual fan of him difficult.
In recent years, the once-visionary music producer and rapper has let his “genius” go to his already inflated head with his out-of-pocket utterances, political views and an over-share of this personal life.
First, it was his infamous appearance on TMZ in 2018, where, in speaking on how African-American people were enslaved for an extended period, he said that slavery was a choice.
During this time, he blatantly supported former US President Donald Trump and later was seen meeting with him at Trump Tower and wearing a MAGA (Make America Great Again) baseball cap.
Not long after, Kanye became obsessed with his version of Christianity and started his Sunday Service, positioning himself as a Jesus-like figure for the second time in a very cult-like atmosphere.
Along with selling tickets for these supposed weekly church services, he sold merchandise too. While his fans were eating up all of this tomfoolery, reports surfaced that the choir at these services were seeking $1 million in unpaid wages.
In the meantime, he was cashing in heaps of money.
The release of “Ye” – very similar to “Donda” – was also delayed several times and it wasn’t well received, just like his confession to being bipolar and not taking his medication. The latter sent a very dangerous message for people who suffer from mental health illness.
His attempt at a US presidential election was where we saw the wheels come off and a noticeably unhinged Kanye even fired various shots at his mother-in-law, Kris Jenner, in what many assumed was a manic episode.
Kanye appeared to have taken a break from the public eye and music during the early stages of the pandemic and poured all of his energy into his fashion brand.
The roll-out for “Donda” kicked off last year when Kanye announced it was his next project, with the first release date set as July 24, 2020.
And like most of his recent work, it got pushed back and he put it to the side with it only being worked on again this year.
As a casual fan, I was willing to give Kanye the benefit of doubt this time around since his mother played such a huge influence in his life and I was hoping that since this is a tribute to his mother we would get the “old Kanye” again.
The “Life of Pablo” era was the last time I think we got glimpses of the Kanye we all knew and love.
However, instead of making a body of work as a tribute to his mother, “Donda” turned into another attention-seeking spectacle with Kanye walking around with his face covered in a balaclava and holding listening parties without releasing the album.
Mind you, tickets and merchandise were again being sold along with these parties/pseudo concerts being streamed on Apple Music all three times.
Again, his actions were less about the music and more about him getting as much attention as possible.
The list of featured artists on the project – some of whom were removed after they voiced their anger about it online – only consist of men, which was the first red flag. Given Kanye’s history of misogynistic behaviour, especially with the way he would talk about the way Kim dressed, this isn’t shocking.
When the second listening party rolled around, I can safely say that, collectively, we were getting tired of Ye sitting in a middle of a stadium just vibing to this unreleased project.
My patience grew thin along with the grace I extended to give this project a listen, even with every problematic thing this man has done.
Then we get the final listening party in Chicago and Kanye, in all his wisdom, decided to only to bring DaBaby and Marilyn Manson on stage, but added them to his album.
If you didn’t know, DaBaby is on an apology tour after he faced a backlash for being homophobic and perpetuating the stigma around HIV/Aids during his set at the Rolling Loud Festival in Miami.
Marilyn is currently facing sexual assault allegations, which includes Hollywood actress Evan Rachel Wood and four other women, with a US senator calling for a full investigation into them.
Why Kanye decided to add these two men to his project makes very little sense with the controversy surrounding them. But, then again, being controversial seems to be his modus operandi in recent years.
Beauty influencer Foyin Ogunrombi pointed out on Twitter that it feels like Kanye is daring people to cancel him and these actions are merely him seeing how much he can get away with.
And as I’ve previously stated with regards to “cancelling” someone, cancel culture is a myth and the reception of “Donda”, which finally dropped on August 29, shows this yet again with “Donda” breaking Olivia Rodrego’s Spotify record for 24h album streams along with jumping to number 1 on the Apple Music charts.
However, while Ye’s fans might be fine with separating the artist from the art, in this case, many of us have reached our limit with him.
No amount of genius can excuse him for all his reckless and problematic behaviour. And this last stunt has made it loud and clear how he feels about homophobia and the sexual assault of women.
Therefore, I will not be giving this album my streams.