It’s a miracle: Kanye West released an album when he said he would. The rapper, 44, debuted the highly-anticipated Donda on July 22 — and fans couldn’t get enough of Playboi Carti and Lil Baby‘s contributions. Lil Baby, 26, is featured on “Hurricane” while Playboi Carti, 24, waxes verses on “Off the Grid (Version 2).” On Twitter, listeners could not contain their excitement about the tracks.
Lil Baby, 070 Shake, and Don Toliver on Hurricane with Kanye!?!?!? This a classic for sure pic.twitter.com/i8qBzKgRpL
— YKTV (@VibesAllDay777) July 23, 2021
Playboi Carti and Kanye West right now pic.twitter.com/JSFzhXdcQa
— zaire🏮🤾🏿 (@_zaiire_) July 23, 2021
Lil Baby got on a song with Drake, J Cole and Kanye West in the same year and held his own on each song. Man’s future is bright pic.twitter.com/ZNJmesdjPC
— MrAntiSocial27 (@MrAntiSocial27) July 23, 2021
— Yona.🤍 (@itsyonaaa___) July 23, 2021
— robitussin (@lil_robitussin1) July 23, 2021
Donda arrives a year after Kanye expressed a desire to leave secular music behind. In 2019, he released a pair of religious albums — Jesus Is King and Jesus Is Born – with the former winning the Best Contemporary Christian Music Album award at the 2021 Grammys. “I was thinking of not rapping again, because I rapped for the devil so long that I didn’t even know how to rap for God,” he told GQ in 2020. “Then one of my pastors told me, ‘My son just said that he would want a rap album about Jesus from Kanye West.’ He didn’t say, ‘Kanye West, you should do this,’ or, ‘You need to do this.’ He just told me something that a child said. And that one thing made the difference.”
The first indication that Kanye had a new album in the works came in Maty 2020. Cinematographer Arthur Jafa prematurely revealed that Ye was working something that, at the time, was called God’s Country. In June, Kanye released the Jafa-directed video for “Wash Us In The Blood,” his collab with Travis Scott. The album then underwent a name change – twice – in the following month, with Kanye first calling it Donda, after his late mother Donda West, then Donda: With Child. On July 22 2020, he tweeted a vowel-less tracklisting, so the album would be DND: WTH CHLD. He also said that the album would arrive that Friday (July 24).
Obviously, the album didn’t come out that day. A week before its release, Kanye held his first 2020 presidential campaign rally in South Carolina. While in front of supporters and reporters and onlookers, Kanye claimed he almost “aborted” his daughter North West, that Harriet Tubman “never actually freed” any slaves, that his brain is “too big for [his] skull” and that he’d be “at peace” if Kim Kardashian, would divorce him. Some might consider that a self-fulfilling prophecy: Kim filed for divorce in February 2021, ending their 7 years of marriage. Since then, Kanye has struck up a romance with Irina Shayk.
Following a listening party in Las Vegas – where Kanye reportedly played his music for Kim, and that the tracks are “positive,” “emotional,” and not negative at all – internet detectives began piecing together the clues. Earlier in July, rapper Consequence shared a clip of Tyler, The Creator listening to a beat on Kanye’s computer. Fans noticed a tracklist written on a whiteboard in the background, per Complex, and thought it had song titles like “Hurricane,” “God’s Country,” “24”, and “Donda.” Add them with earlier tracklistings, and some think the album will also contain “No Child Left Behind,” “Remote,” “Daylight,” “I Know God Breathed On This,” and “Come To Life.” In addition to Tyler, Pusha-T, Baby Keem, Chris Brown, Post Malone, and more were rumored guests.