Last night, hearing Kanye West’s upcoming Donda 2 didn’t require a $200 device—all you needed was an internet connection and some patience. West unveiled the album in a mammoth performance at Miami’s LoanDepot Park, which was streamed on YouTube and Amazon’s Twitch channel, continuing the string of stadium spectacles that he used to unveil 2021’s Donda. From a visual standpoint, West remains a big picture maestro, reconstructing his childhood home on the grounds, bringing a cavalcade of helmeted backup dancers all clad in his customary black, and using fire, water and motorcycles to create arresting imagery.
The live performance experience, like most of Kanye’s recent endeavors, was an all-over-the-place affair featuring a few moments of genius and some frustratingly uneven ones. On songs like “Get Lost,” the album resembled Kanye’s Bon Iver phase, featuring icy auto-tune harmonies. Elsewhere he flirted with Brooklyn drill and Atlanta trap, both with mixed results. Like the initial Donda listenings, there were several songs that were very clearly unfinished, featuring scratch vocals from West and more developed verses by others. Familiar voices like Travis Scott and Baby Keem were heard, while some new names like Jack Harlow and even Soulja Boy joined West’s laundry list of collaborators.
Here’s what you should know about Donda 2, how it further complicates West’s relationship with Kim Kardashian, and who the most noteworthy guests are.
Kim’s presence loomed large, in some pretty uncomfortable ways.
Earlier in February, Kanye apologized for some of his actions relating to Kardashian, admitting that “sharing screenshots was jarring and came off as harassing Kim.” It’s likely a lot of these Donda 2 songs were written before that admission of culpability. On “Security,” he implies that Kim’s security could not stop him from going to his family’s home (“I walk in the crib, no getting frisk / Butt-naked in the kitchen cooking grits / Tell yo’ mama, ‘Come give me a kiss’ / Security gon’ need security for this”), while also expressing anger at barriers being put between himself and his children (“Never stand between a man and his kids”).
He also seems to reference his frustration over Kardashian letting their daughter North use TikTok on “True Love,” rapping, “Don’t have our daughters butterfly while they larvae.” In a deleted Instagram post, West had written, “Since this is my first divorce, I need to know what I should do about my daughter being put on TikTok against my will?” West also quibbles with how Kim is dressing the children, asking, “Wait, who got our kids in some ‘What are those?’ / Why they can’t just be in Yeezys with the cargos?”
Most noteworthy, though, is that Kanye actually sampled Kardashian’s SNL monologue from October 21 where she talks about their marriage. “I married the best rapper of all time. Not only that, he’s the richest Black man in America. A talented, legit genius who gave me four incredible kids,” she says in the clip. (In a segment of the monologue that does not appear on Donda 2, Kardashian talked about why she wanted to get a divorce, citing West’s personality as the main motivating factor.)