Kanye West Premieres New Songs at a Listening Session in Las Vegas

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UPDATE: Kanye West’s label, Def Jam, has announced a listening session for his forthcoming album “Donda” on Thursday at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta. Although the announcement does not confirm that the album will be released on Friday, West has held similar events the day before his albums drop.

Kanye West apparently premiered new material at a small listening event in Las Vegas, according to multiple unconfirmed but reliable-seeming social media reports that surfaced Sunday — several of which apparently include snippets of at least two songs. The clips arrived amid reports that a new West album is imminent — possibly the long-delayed “Donda,” which is named after his late mother and is one of several unreleased albums from recent years.

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Contacted by Variety, a rep for West was not immediately able to confirm the authenticity of any of the reports.

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The videos and photos show West hunched over DJ equipment with his head bobbing, wearing a hood over his head that exposed only his eyes, while a small crowd looks on, although the footage is dark and there are no identifying characteristics.

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The most substantial clip is nearly 30 seconds long and features West rapping over a steady beat with a strong melodic undertow driven by what sounds like a Hammond organ. The recording is indistinct but West seems to be rapping about a family situation with a father who didn’t show up, a “daughter just turned one, and she still depending on her mom, big brother in the streets, he went and bought him a gun.” A second snippet of that song is also making the rounds.

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Another track is billed as featuring California rapper Baby Keem and is more jarring, with a section in which the rapper leaps into a shriek that is reminiscent of Tyler, the Creator — who was apparently in the studio recently with West, according to a different, soundless video snippet that was tweeted by veteran rapper Consequence (and former signee to West’s G.O.O.D. label) on Saturday. The person at the board, presumably West, was masked (no eyes showing this time).

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Revolt TV host Justin Laboy posted a photo of himself with a hooded character he said was West and called it “album of the year.”

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Another report spotted a list of song titles written on a whiteboard in the background of that video — several of which have been circulating for months — and immediately speculated about a tracklist, although a whiteboard is about as far as possible from a confirmation.

Twitter quickly lit up with skeptical commentary from fans who — quite understandably — have felt clowned by West’s many promised but unreleased projects. While he remains one of the most important artists and producers in pop and especially hip-hop history, West’s output over the past several years has been frustratingly inconsistent for many longtime fans, although his brilliance shines through on several songs. His most recent album was the religious-themed “Jesus Is King” in October of 2019 (which won a Grammy for Best Contemporary Christian Album), followed by “Jesus Is Born,” a collection featuring musicians from his “Sunday Service” performances.

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Recent other reports about West saw him in San Francisco earlier this week with Russian model Irina Shayk, a recent companion with whom he’s been rumored to be both “getting hot” and “cooling off” with this week. A longtime and notorious abuser of social media, West has not posted anything on his accounts since Election Day 2020.

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