The only thing that commands more attention than Kanye West is his music. A polarizing figure, on and off the stage, Ye continues to give the people a show they yearn for.
Announcing last week on his latest beloved platform, Instagram, that DONDA 2 would exclusively be available on his Stem Player — after allegedly declining a $100 million deal with Apple — Kanye held true to his promise to showcase new material.
Seven months after his first DONDA listening event in Atlanta’s Mercedes Benz Stadium, Kanye West premiered DONDA 2, this time at Miami’s LoanDepot Park. A star-studded affair, the listening experience had just as many big names off the stage (Elon Musk, Diddy, and Rick Ross) as it did on.
The event — which was streaming on the homepage of his StemPlayer, as well as on Twitch and YouTube — began with the symbolic burning church being centered as Kanye made his grand entrance.
Lighting the stadium with flames from the burning church, somber vocals from XXXTENTACION rang out on “True Love,” as the deceased artist sings, “Shouldn’t be this complicated, thought I died in your arms.” Kanye nods alongside as the record seamlessly ventures into his contributing verse. Keeping the melancholy aura intact, we’re then treated to Don Toliver opening the second song, “Broken Road,” as he sings, “What does it mean to find your soul, paid the toll on broken road.” In true Kanye bravado, he follows with, “Baby, I’m free, baby, I’m free like a homeless person.”
The tempo started to pick up with a record aimed at ex fling Julia Fox. “I am a flex, imagine your ex face when he finds out,” Kanye boasted. He continued with, “Your life finna change right now” and reflects on splurging on Julia and her companions over the chorus of two minutes. Deciding to partially shift the spotlight, the extravaganza made way for The Game to hit the stage with Ye to perform “Eazy.”
Giving us his perspective once more on recent publicized occurrences, “Security” serves as Ye’s musical answer to what occurred at his daughter’s birthday party earlier in the year – all while security drenched in all black attire circles Ye. Shifting gears and continuing to give a masterclass in spectacle, Migos graced the stage for their new collaboration. It was just shortly after that fans found themselves in the Future-assisted section of the album, which intricately conveys the musical- chemistry that the duo possesses, on tracks “Pablo” and “Mr. Miyagi.”
Taking a break from material of his own, Kanye shared his platform with Pusha-T, who confidently put his “Diet Coke” single on display. Jack Harlow then joined Kanye for “Louis Bags, a tribute to Virgil Abloh, in which Kanye raps, “I stopped buying Louis bags when Virgil passed.”
Pulling back from the spirited fraction of the album, the tide turns on “Sci Fi”, which opens with excerpts from Kim Kardashian’s Saturday Night Live monologue. Kanye goes on to rap, “When you laid down and I gave you this semen, I swear I heard God, the voice of Morgan Freeman.”
The final moments of the exhibition were met with noticeable sound issues that struct an irritating chord with Ye. (At one point he threw his mic in disgust.) DONDA tracks like, “Hurricane” and “Jail” were played and Marilyn Manson, who has been accused of physical and sexual abuse by over a dozen women, once again, took a spot on stage. Alicia Keys and Fivio Foreign performed their “City of Gods” collaboration and set the tone for the final new track of the evening, “First Time In A Long Time,” which featured another tumultuous figure, Soulja Boy. To round out the evening, Kanye, Playboi Carti and Fivio Foreign gave the first live-showing of the fan-favorite, “Off The Grid,” which felt like a fitting denouement to what was once again another signature Kanye expression.
While some cuts noticeably seem incomplete, the ambiance of DONDA 2 makes it further clear that Kanye remains invigorated and fueled by passion. For a man who has seemingly done it all throughout a career that spans over 20 years, DONDA 2 gives a welcomed insight into a still vulnerable Kanye. That vulnerability is equipped with a restorative reminder that Kanye is still as unruly and confident as ever in his approach to music and live-showings.
Travis Grier is a freelance writer based in Baltimore who has written for Def Pen and Karen Civil. He can be found on Twitter at @yoyotrav.
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