The Atlanta event for the album – which at time of writing has yet to hit streaming services – is the second of its kind to go ahead this week, with West hosting a surprise event in Las Vegas on July 19.
Pusha T, Def Jam and others associated with Ye announced the Atlanta listening party on social media earlier this week, with tickets available for between US$20 and $50. It was later announced that the party would be live-streamed globally via Apple Music.
West reportedly gave 5,000 tickets away to staff and students of the city’s historically black colleges and universities, including Clark Atlanta, Morehouse, Spelman and Morris Brown.
According to Stereogum, the event was set to kick off at 8pm ET at Atlanta’s Mercedez Benz Stadium, but in true Kanye fashion, didn’t end up beginning until 9:50pm.
While it’s not clear how many artists and other notable names were in attendance, West’s ex-partner Kim Kardashian, their four children as well as Khloe Kardashian were spotted there.
Kim and the kids are in the building. #DONDA
— Complex Music (@ComplexMusic) July 23, 2021
In an all-red outfit, similar to one he sported during the cycle of 2010’s ‘My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy’, West walked into the centre of the arena with pipe organs playing in the background with the chant “We gonna be OK, we gonna be OK“.
— Everything Georgia (@GAFollowers) July 23, 2021
There’s no official information around the titles of each song played throughout the event, though West did previously share a partial tracklist for the album on Instagram earlier this week, with titles such as ‘We Made It’, ‘Moon’, ‘Pure Souls’ and more.
A stack of rumoured features were also confirmed throughout the listening event. The most talked about moment of the evening came in what appears to be the album’s final song, which includes a verse from Jay-Z – marking the first time the two have collaborated on a song since Drake‘s 2016 track ‘Pop Style’.
— Elite Media Group (@TheEliteMedia_) July 23, 2021
Jay-Z’s verse follows a bellowing Auto-Tuned delivery from West, and includes lines like “This might be the return of the throne/Throne, Hova and Yeezus, like Moses and Jesus”. Audio engineer and producer Young Guru has since claimed that Jay recorded his verse earlier earlier that day.
HOV did the verse today!!!! At 4pm
— Young Guru (@Young_Guru) July 23, 2021
The Atlanta listening party comes just shy of the tenth anniversary of Kanye West and Jay-Z’s much-lauded collaborative album ‘Watch The Throne’. Since then, the two have had an uneven and occasionally strained relationship, with West saying last year: “Miss my bro… real talk”.
Other ‘Donda’ features confirmed at the Atlanta event include Travis Scott and Baby Keem, who both appeared on the same song, confirming rumours that circulated following the Las Vegas listening event.
— .// (@9xx6xx) July 23, 2021
Another notable feature is Roddy Ricch, who appears on a song led by piano that’s reminiscent of West’s older work. Ricch delivers lyrics like “They said I was mad at the Grammy’s/But I’m looking at my Grammy right now”.
— 🖤 (@roddy_ricch98) July 23, 2021
Playboi Carti also appears to be featured on the album, rapping over an uptempo beat before Kanye takes over.
— Philip Waiganjo (@philip_waiganj0) July 23, 2021
Kanye also played ‘No Child Left Behind’, which he’d teased earlier this week in an ad for Beats Studio Buds starring athlete Sha’Carri Richardson.
“Never count on y’all, always count on God,” Kanye sings on the track, “He’s done miracles on me.”
NO CHILD LEFT BEHIND BY KANYE WEST HAVE THE BEST INTRO EVER
— ٰ (@bIondedxo) July 23, 2021
But Jay-Z’s appearance on ‘Donda’ was arguably the moment of the night, sending social media into overdrive. View some reactions below.
Me telling my grandkids about Jay-Z and Kanye West getting back together #DONDA
— NUFF (@nuffsaidny) July 23, 2021
Jay-Z & Kanye West back in the studio together pic.twitter.com/AzEKy48bc0
— 🍊 (@TweetsByJMike) July 23, 2021
— 🇧🇧 Lord Law 🏁 (@_Lawbytheway) July 23, 2021