Third time is the charm for Kanye West’s (now just simply, Ye, if Uncle Sam allows) newest listening show for his 10th solo studio album in his home city of Chicago, for the long-anticipated Donda LP. The venue for this event at Soldier Field stadium falls in line with his two previous showcases of the evolving project—those sessions were held in Atlanta at the humongous Mercedes Benz stadium, where he’s also been working/living out of for the past few weeks. Moving the sessions from his birthplace of ATL to his childhood city of the Chi’, is rather significant as the album’s title is an ode to his beloved late mother, Donda West, and most likely, in synergy with the energy they spent in the Windy City.
That energy flowed so much that it broke from the other sets where Ye first donned an all-red leather ensemble with no stage, and an all-black S.W.A.T. team get-up with “Donda” blazed on the back in white letters and still minimal staging for the second session. Yet, a hundred similarly dressed fans poppin’ and danced and marched to the sounds…this time, he keeps the costumes and people and centered the staging to a true to sized replica of his childhood home, sitting on a mound of dirt encircled by a fence, which is against a rotating procession of hulking SUVs.
Ye has taken the visual sets for shows from the “watch me on stage” era to a full-on performance art space and doesn’t seem to care what people think about what traditional album roll outs should be. After seeing so many music fans (mainly those that haven’t attended any of the shows in person) slam him for moving the drop date at least three times in the last two months, explain how Ye wouldn’t sell any more tickets to an album that hasn’t released yet…but Soldier Field looked pretty full attendance-wise and I’m sure his merch sales were healthy. This time though, to sum it up in short, he rocked out, floated to the sky again (this time as an animation), danced weirdly, set himself(?) on fire, and possibly remarried Kim K. But the sounds mix was amazing.
What is it about Ye and his connection to pop culture where he can break so many rules, climb out of so many tough cancel culture situations and personal turmoil that tends to bleed into record-breaking mega-money business deals? It’s really uncanny. Kanye is abrasive and brash and God-fearing and street embracing and gospel-inspired…all while seemingly attracting the top-tier talent of hip-hop and beefing with some at the same time. There is a point with the questions about certain history-making artists/visionaries that are pointless, as their lives are lived on another plane, a plane we can still see but never understand.
Call it bullsh*t, but it’s true. MJ, The Purple One, The Voice, they all existed on a frequency we could hear but not experience WITH them. Ye is surely reaching that status, but he’s living so it’s different for us to comprehend. People out there support him and he supports those going through the vice grips of scandal, like having the troubled rocker Marilyn Manson on the porch with him at this session. He also allowed DaBaby, who is going through his own public beatdown, time to express himself on a new track about his current turbulent times.
Can Ye survive the continued onslaught of the good and bad press while questioning his own self-worth, faith, and sanity in the midst of a very public divorce with one of the world’s most recognized women? At some point, does the extravagant, elaborate, elusiveness of explaining his thoughts outside of music force him into a breakdown or breakthrough? Are we witnessing his freedom…yet again?
Who, what, and why are you doing what you do, Kanye? What Matrix are you operating from? Or are you someone that should be written off as gone to “our” community (something a friend mentioned back in Ye’s Red Cap days…but he was honestly done with Ye way before then)? I have more questions after this third listening, but not sure if answers will ever come. And if you the reader wonder why there are so many questions…I guess having seen his career from the start up until now, being extremely proud of him and deeply disappointed by him, are these questions about us as well, cus to be real in today’s current social climate, these questions could be asked of any of us.