Kanye West debuted his long-awaited new album “Donda” at a listening event aired live on Apple Music on Thursday at Atlanta’s Mercedes Benz Stadium.
While many facts about the album have leaked in the days since the initial hints about its impending release surfaced on Sunday, one that didn’t was Jay-Z’s guest verse on the album’s final song, reportedly titled “Guess Who’s Going to Jail Tonight?”
West did not perform, as he has done at previous listening events, instead of stomping around the arena floor in a massive red suit with bright orange Yeezy boots and a gauzy full-face mask.
Although Jay was not present, West stood with a hand up for his verses.
Jay’s verse, which appears to be written from the perspective of a man in prison, refers not only to his brotherly and at times tumultuous relationship with West.
At one point, he compares the two to “Moses and Jesus,” and at another, he says “This might be the return of the throne,” alluding to their 2012 collaborative LP “Watch the Throne.”
Hov could also be referring to the album’s larger lyrical themes of religion and West’s beloved mother Donda, who passed away suddenly in 2007.
According to unconfirmed accounts, Jay recorded his verse on Thursday afternoon, only hours before the listening party (which could explain why it started over two hours later than the scheduled 8 p.m. ET start time).
In the coming hours, CN News will have much more on the album and event, but “Donda” appears to be West’s most musically adventurous and fulfilling album since 2016’s “Life of Pablo.”
He has retained the Christian themes and lyrics of his recent gospel material but containing only a few elements of religious music (church organ and choirs on a couple of songs).
It’s slow and thoughtful, echoing at times his “808s and Heartbreak” record — the one he released following his mother’s death — with extended keyboard notes and phased guitars reminiscent of King Crimson’s Robert Fripp.
Guests include Lil Baby and Pusha-T.
The album’s impending release was announced on social media on Sunday after West hosted a small listening party in Las Vegas, where he wore a heavy sweatshirt and a ski mask.
Gradually, his company, Def Jam, revealed that the album, “Donda,” will be released on Friday, which is likely to be considerably different from the record of the same name he was rumored to be released two years ago.
The date was set during Game 6 of the NBA Finals on Tuesday when West scored and edited a Beats by Dre commercial featuring track sensation Sha’Carri Richardson.
The commercial features a sample of the album’s track “No Child Left Behind” and is a powerful show of support for 21-year-old Richardson, who was suspended from Team USA after testing positive for marijuana on July 2.
Not all of his words were immediately clear but here is the Jay Z verse;
God in my cell, that’s my celly
Made in the image of God, that’s a selfie
Pray five times a day, so many felonies
Who’s gon’ post my bail? Lord, help me
Hold up, Donda, I’m with your baby when I [unclear]
Told ’em stop all of that red cap [?], we goin’ home
Not be with all these sins, casting stones
This might be the return of the throne
Hova and Yeezus
Like Moses and Jesus
You’re not in control of my thesis
You already know what I think, I think pieces [?]
On my cell, in my cell tonight
Don’t have to see you to touch you
This is what braille look like
This on sight
If they take me to jail
Hold my girl, tell her send my mail
We know what Hell look like
Still it’s a hell of a life, yikes
This Jay-Z verse on Kanye West’s new DONDA album is insane.pic.twitter.com/LdVBh446J5
— Tellaman (@Tellamahn) July 23, 2021
— MUSICXCLUSIVES (@MusicXclusives) July 23, 2021