Kanye West doesn’t know how to release an album without making a big deal out of it. It’s second nature to this rapper who handles provocation like no one else, support of Donald Trump during his tenure, a disappointed 2020 US presidential candidate, and ex-porn fan who converted to a harsh Christianity that condemns abortions.
The rapper’s tenth album, Donda, the first name of her mother, an English teacher who died in 2007, was no exception to the rule.
All summer long, Kim Kardashian’s ex kept his fans going, by organizing listening sessions, « listening parties », at 200 dollars (170 euros) entry into major stadiums: July 22 and August 6 at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta (Georgia), the city where he was born, then on August 26 at Soldier Field in Chicago ( Illinois), a metropolis that has seen it grow.
The day after these events where Kanye West was standing, almost alone, in the middle of a sports arena in front of 40,000 people, the record had to be available on listening platforms, which was never the case. Even France almost hosted these small private listening sessions in August, Place de la Bourse in Paris and in a commune of Essonne, Bois-Moret d’Auvers-Saint-Georges. The two have turned into a fiasco. It was finally necessary to wait until Sunday, August 29, the Lord’s Day, for Donda be revealed to his flock.
Denunciation of “cancel culture”
This disc is first of all a long album, as it is rare today to produce: two hours of music cut into twenty-seven pieces, in which the cream of American rap and R’n’B has been invited.
After an introduction in the form of vocal training with the repetition of his mother’s name – Donda – which certainly allows a nice alliteration but is hardly of interest, Kanye West seems to reconnect with his political verve of yesteryear, the one in which he condemned President Bush’s inaction after Hurricane Katrina hit Louisiana in 2005.
Jail (“Prison”), which welcomes Jay-Z, his former boss and partner for the album Watch The Throne in 2011, looks like a denunciation of the American prison system, especially since the last piece of Donda, the remarkable Jesus Lord 2, gives voice to the son of Larry Hoover, founding member of the gang The Gangster Disciples, sentenced to more than 150 years in prison.
But in fact no, throughout the disc, it is clear that his intention is quite different. What the rapper wants to denounce is the “cancel culture”, which consists in banning artists who have behaved reprehensible. In a second version of Jail, he invites Marilyn Manson, accused of rape and sexual harassment by several of his ex-companions, and rapper DaBaby, who made homophobic remarks during a concert in Miami (Florida) in 2021 and who has since seen a large majority of his concerts canceled.
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