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Kanye West finally releases new album Donda – and reinstates Jay-Z after fan uproar

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Kanye West has released his long-waited 10th album, Donda.

Named after his late mother, the record was originally due to drop last summer, but West‘s perfectionist tendencies have meant he has delayed its launch several times.

The 27-track album, its cover art a black square, is 108 minutes long and available for streaming on services including Apple Music, Spotify, and Tidal.

Kanye and Kim Kardashian West recreated their wedding during the music star's latest album event. Pic: Apple Music
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Kanye and Kim Kardashian West recreated their wedding during the music star’s latest album event. Pic: Apple Music

Donda features guest vocalists and rappers like the Weeknd and Lil Baby (“Hurricane”), Travis Scott and Baby Keem (“Praise God”), Young Thug (“Remote Control”), the late Pop Smoke (“Tell the Vision”), Jay Electronica and the Lox (“Jesus Lord”), Kid Cudi (“Moon”), Roddy Ricch (“Pure Souls”), and Ariana Grande (“Donda”).

The album’s release follows three listening parties held in July and August, where thousands of fans in Atlanta and Chicago were granted early listens to versions of the record.

The rapper and producer, who has filed to be legally known as Ye in recent days, reportedly went back to work on the album after a muted reaction from 42,000 fans at his first listening party.

At the third listening party, West faced criticism for replacing a Jay-Z verse on “Jail” with a new verse by DaBaby, who has been accused of homophobia after comments he made about HIV and gay men.

However, the current streaming version of Donda reinstates Jay-Z’s appearance – and text messages shared by Kanye West on Instagram a few hours before the release appear to explain why.

The exchange begins with Kanye’s manager Bu Thiam informing the rapper that DaBaby’s manager is not giving clearance for “Jail” to be included.

The Mercedes-Benz Stadium is seen on Monday, July 26, 2021, in Atlanta. Recording artist Kanye West has been living inside an Atlanta stadium while working on his new album. A representative for the performer said West planned to remain inside to complete ...Donda,... his 10th studio album.  (AP Photo/Ron Harris)
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At one point, Kanye West made an Atlanta stadium his home, so he could work on the album. Pic: AP

Thiam added that “we won’t be able to Upload unless we take him off”.

After being informed that neither DaBaby nor his manager were answering their phone, West replied that he was “not taking my brother off [the album]” and that DaBaby “was the only person who said he would vote for me in public” – a reference to the rapper’s US presidential campaign last year.

“So the album is not coming out,” the musician continued, asserting that “God gotta bigger plan” for the situation.

Kim Kardashian says Kanye West is still 'family'
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Kim Kardashian West said Kanye West is still ‘family’ even after their separation

“A plan that can’t be stopped!!” Thiam replied.

“Jail, Pt 2” still features DaBaby and appears on the track listing, but it is not available to listen to on Spotify.

“Jail” also credits Brian Warner, also known as Marilyn Manson, as a co-songwriter – another controversial choice because he is facing a number of sexual assault allegations – which he denies.

West reportedly moved into sports stadiums to finish up the full-length album – his first since releasing Jesus Is King in 2019.

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Donda West was an English professor at Chicago State University, but died in 2007 at the age of 58 of cosmetic surgery complications.

The third listening party, held two days ago in Chicago, saw West bring out Kim Kardashian West on stage as she wore a Balenciaga wedding dress during the track “No Child Left Behind” – months after she filed for divorce from the rapper.

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