ATLANTA — Kanye West is known to measure up when the chips are low. The rapper cut a lonely figure – standing alone in a cavernous stadium without uttering a word – during a Thursday night listening party in Atlanta for his new album “Donda.”
“I’m losing my family,” Mr. West could be heard singing repeatedly on one of the more than a dozen songs about family, loss and religion that were performed at Mercedes-Benz Stadium – a apparent reference to his recent divorce from his nearly seven-year-old wife, Kim Kardashian. For much of the night, Mr. West remained relatively still on top of a white tarp in the room, although at times he knelt down and danced on top of others. Overall, Mr. West’s minimalist presentation conveyed a sense of seclusion and melancholy. In a surprise, Ms. Kardashian was present for the premiere.
Mr. West’s stadium-sized listening party – the two upper levels of the hall with an approximately 70,000-seat capacity were not used – featured his 10th solo studio album, which was due to arrive on Friday. Tickets for the listening event, which was announced Monday, promoted by Live Nation and broadcast live worldwide by Apple Music, sold for $ 20 or $ 50. News of the album’s release on Friday arrived in an Apple commercial during the NBA Finals this week. Mr West also returned to Instagram, posting photos of himself in a black suit and wearing chains with his children’s names on them. Still, he remained unusually silent about his new album.
The deployment of “Donda” comes to a crossroads for Mr. West. In February, Ms Kardashian, with whom he has four children, filed for divorce, ending one of pop culture’s most famous power couples. Last year, she also spoke about Mr. West’s struggles with bipolar disorder amid his failed presidential campaign as a spoiler candidate. Around the same time, Mr. West, a fashion mogul behind sneaker and clothing brand Yeezy, signed a deal with Gap.
On the music front, Mr. West’s recent albums – “Ye,” an austere exploration of his mental health issues in 2018 and religious-themed “Jesus Is King” in 2019 – have received mixed reviews among musicians. fans and industry watchers, many of whom see them as sloppy compared to his previous work. (“Jesus Is King,” Mr. West’s last official solo album, won him a Grammy Award for Best Contemporary Christian Music Album.)