With the release of Donda looming close on the horizon, it may surprise nobody to know Kanye has been juggling numerous other projects whilst on his campaign for another number one album. The life of Pablo is a mystery at the best of times, so when public appearances are few and far between it can become difficult to keep a track of which Kanye rumours are real and which are just wishful thinking. One moment Jay-Z and Kanye are mortal enemies, the next rumours are bubbling about the inevitability of a ‘Watch the Throne 2’ collaboration. So to help separate facts from the twisted fantasies, we are here to break down the very real business moves, new tunes and clothing collabs that Kanye has been crafting during his post ‘Jesus is King’ offseason.
Kanye & Balenciaga’s Demna Gvasalia team up for the second ‘Donda’ listening party.
Only Kanye would host two separate album streaming parties in the same week. Although Kanye is no stranger to giving himself an encore, this one was more than deserved as he teamed up with Balenciaga creative director Demna Gvasalia to create a truly unique visual aesthetic that perfectly complements the weird and wonderful nature of Kanye’s character and creativity.
The announcement of Demna’s participation in the album launch was understandably met with confusion as fans failed to grasp the exact role in which Balenciaga would be leaving its mark on the production. Would Demna and Ye be producing tracks together in the same way Matthew Williams and Playboi Carti have or would their creative partnership only be exhibited on the official ‘Donda’ merch range available for sale at the event? Well, answers came in swift succession as soon as Kanye stepped out onto the Demna designed stage set at the Mercedes Benz Arena in Atlanta wearing the playfully dubbed ‘No Hugs Jacket’ from Balenciaga’s FW20 collection.
Recently, Kanye has actually been living in the Mercedes Benz Arena in Atlanta since his divorce from Kim Kardashian, perhaps explaining why he appeared so at home during last night’s performance. Another explanation could be the mob of over 5000 dancers that took to the stage under a LED lighting rig that alternated between scenes of sunny skies and thunderstorms, a clear nod to Balenciaga’s apocalyptic Autumn/Winter 2020 collection that saw models walk across a flooded runway as a comment on global climate change during Paris Fashion Week.
Ultimately, the show was a bonafide success compared to the first album stream that seemed sloppy and rushed in comparison to last nights show. This event finally gave Kanye the opportunity to work with Gvasalia, a designer he’s long admired and admittedly hoped to steal from Balenciaga in order to work for Yeezy. A dream he has not stopped pursuing, perhaps explaining his perfect attendance record at all Balenciaga couture shows this year as well as Bottega Veneta’s most recent private show in London.
Kanye drops a brand new merch range for the launch of ‘Donda’
It is undeniable that Kanye has reshaped the landscape of how artists approach releasing an album in today streaming age. Beyond the live shows and album parties, Kanye has pioneered an era where exclusive merch drops that coincide with an album launch draw almost as much attention as the music itself. Whether that’s a good thing or not, his Modus Operandi has been adapted and utillised by artists like Travis Scott, Tyler The Creator and ASAP Rocky to help recover the lost merch sales that CD’s used to provide.
His latest album ‘Donda’ is absolutely no exception as Kanye took to Instagram last night to show off his new merch range to commemorate the Donda launch at Mercedez Benz Arena in Atlanta. Although the collection was on sale at the arena it is also available for sale on his official merch site. The standout piece from the collection is a black long-sleeve T embellished with a Star of David design that has a Cross placed in the middle. A simple notation of the album title, location and date of the show is centred at the bottom of the shirt. Whilst this may be a world away from the hot-red jacket recently unveiled by GAP from their upcoming collab with Yeezy, the simplicity of the design will go a long way in making the shirt more universally accessible in order to raise as much money as possible for The Donda Foundation.
Are Jay Z & Kanye really reuniting for ‘Watch The Throne 2’?
After the tracklist for ‘Donda’ was revealed to have a truly surprising collab with Jay-Z, rumours naturally began flying about a possible return of the duo’s infamous back-and-forth display of hip-hop mastery, à la their 2011 album ‘Watch the Throne’. Initially, it would be logical to dismiss these claims based on recent tensions between the two hip-hop heavyweights, with most fans thinking that the long complex history the two have shared had ended any chance of a reunion project. However, once Justin LaBoy, a longtime collaborator and protege of Ye, took to Twitter to state ‘Watch The Throne 2 coming end of the year. Kanye & Hov about to make history AGAIN!’, the rumour mill began turning once again. Neither West nor Hov have thus far rejected or confirmed LaBoy’s claims however Justin’s long-term and well-documented history with Ye place him in a unique position to know the truth. If a ‘Watch the Throne 2’ album does surface this year, it would without a doubt be the biggest album of the year, if not the last five.