Kanye West‘s third mass listening party for his unreleased Donda album took place at Chicago’s Soldier Field stadium on Thursday night (Aug. 26), and as with the two previous events at Atlanta’s Mercedes-Benz Stadium, it was filled with surprises and strange scenes.
In keeping with the often bizarre and unexpected rollout for the rapper’s 10th album — which at press time still did not have a definitive release date — West sought to push the envelope in his hometown Windy City show by inviting two controversial guests to join him for the event. It was just the latest provocative act by ‘Ye, who has made not releasing an album one of the most lucrative acts of his unpredictable career to date.
Check out a breakdown of the three Donda events so far:
Chicago’s Soldier Field (Aug. 26)
West rebuilt a replica of his childhood home on the floor of the NFL stadium for Thursday night’s show, during which he kicked things off by swapping out the Jay-Z verse on the song “Jail” with new bars supplied by DaBaby, who also made an appearance at the event. The embattled MC (born Jonathan Lyndale Kirk) is currently under intense scrutiny in the wake of his divisive set at July’s Rolling Loud Miami, where he made a series of hateful homophobic and misogynistic comments about HIV/AIDS that cost him a number of festival gigs and drew widespread condemnation.
In addition to DaBaby, Kanye also invited Marilyn Manson (born Brian Hugh Warner) to the show in the midst of the disgraced shock rocker’s current legal issues, which include lawsuits from four women featuring accusations of rape and sexual, physical and emotional assault; Manson has denied the charges. Manson and DaBaby, both dressed in all-black like ‘Ye, did not speak during their appearances, but merely stood behind West on the stoop of the recreated home.
West, who lit himself on fire during the show that started almost an hour late, also invited estranged wife Kim Kardashian West to the spectacle. The reality star-entrepreneur strutted out in the wedding dress she wore at their 2014 wedding so that West could lift her veil in what appeared to be a dramatic recreation of their nuptials.
Mercedes-Benz Stadium, Atlanta (Aug. 5)
Taking the stage in a black spiked Balenciaga jacket with military boots and a bulletproof vest with his mother’s name on it, West stomped across the floor as he played tracks from what sounded like an updated version of the album without formally addressing the crowd or live rapping any vocals. The event was preceded by a “Countdown to Donda” livestream from his temporary cell-like living space in the bowels of the stadium in the hours leading up to the show, with cameos from The Lox, Fivio Foreign, Chance the Rapper, Steve Lacy and Vic Mensa. At various points in the pre-show livestream, West was seen doing push-ups, napping and staring at the camera alone in the windowless room.
The second pass of the album featured new harmonies and verses from Jay Electronica, Griselda, The Weeknd, Fivio Foreign, Young Thug and Kid Cudi. And unlike his solo run during the first show, the rapper was accompanied by a troupe of performers in all-black on the smoke-shrouded floor where his twin-sized stadium bedroom cot served as one of the lone props.
Though West offered free COVID-19 vaccines to the 40,000 ticketed fans who attended — eventgoers were required to show proof of vaccine or a negative test to enter — Billboard reported that a total of four people got the jab that evening.
The crowning moment featured West being lifted up to the heights of the stadium on wires as the song “No Child Left Behind” played. Kardashian-West, who has filed for divorce from West, also appeared at the second event, dressed in an all-black outfit that matched the one worn by the pair’s daughter North West.
Mercedes-Benz Stadium, Atlanta (July 22)
Wearing a red puffer jacket, tan mask and red pants, West gave fans the first taste of the ever-evolving Donda, which was revealed to have cameos from Pusha T, Playboi Carti, Lil Durk, Pop Smoke, Baby Keem, Roddy Ricch, Lil Baby and Jay-Z. With fans unsure what to expect, West essentially played the entire album without saying a word to the crowd, many of whom were disappointed when the collection did not drop as expected the next day.
Kardashian-West also appeared at the first event, along with guests Rick Ross and her sister Khloe Kardashian.