Kanye premiered ‘Donda 2’ at a chaotic and controversial listening event.
Kanye West has had a busy few weeks. Unfortunately much of that business was conducted on Instagram, where he’s been relentlessly taunting his estranged wife and her new boyfriend and, for some reason, Billie Eilish? It’s been a distraction from the artist’s music, but Tuesday night at Miami’s LoanDepot Park West got back to his creativity on a large scale. He premiered the sequel to last year’s Donda in what was called the “Donda Experience Performance.” The elaborate listening event proved that while West will always be the musical self-proclaimed genius we know, he also cannot seem to edit himself. Despite previously facing wide criticism for associating with Marilyn Manson — who is currently facing multiple accusations of sexual abuse — Ye brought him out to perform.
The scene last night was similar to the listening parties Ye threw for the first installment of Donda. The performance began with over two hours of ambient noise and the sound of a heart beating. Then, a burning house surrounded by water emerged and Ye appeared. Fans who weren’t there in person could watch at IMAX theaters, where the show was live streamed, or on Ye’s Stem Player website. (A shift from last week, when he announced that Donda 2 will only be available preloaded onto the device, which costs $200.) Ye premiered songs “Flowers” and “Easy,” among others, and was joined by Migos on stage and Pusha T in the audience for some of the show. Choice samples were played as well, including Kamala Harris’s “We did it Joe” and a portion of Kim Kardashian West’s Saturday Night Live monologue.
Then the show started revisiting Donda, and before you know it Marilyn Manson is creepily prowling alongside Ye in front of a burned out model of his childhood home for the song “Jail.” Manson’s appearance was awkwardly and suspiciously timed. Just last night, around the time Manson was onstage, the trailer was released for HBO Max’s new documentary Phoenix Rising, which details Evan Rachel Wood’s escape and recovery from Manson’s alleged abuse. Ye doesn’t seem to care about that, though, or the accounts of over a dozen other women who have come forward to accuse Manson of sexual assault, among other things, since February of 2021.
It feels especially egregious because Ye faced massive backlash for bringing out Manson at other events, including the Donda listening party. He knows better, but he doesn’t seem to care. It’s hard to not perceive Ye as a rape apologist when he continually gives Manson a platform despite the ongoing controversy. It does not help that Manson seems to enjoy the attention as he postures on stage. DaBaby, who got himself in hot water for a homophobic rant at Miami’s Rolling Loud concert last summer, also joined the pair on stage for his portion of the song.
It all begs the big question of why? But besides the implied, contrived rebuttal of cancel culture, we almost certainly won’t get an answer. Regardless, Donda 2 is out now, and perhaps that will give Ye a reason to stop vying for publicity in uncomfortable ways. If the last few months are any indication, however, that’s probably wishful thinking.