Kanye West Updated "Donda" in the Middle of the Night, Removing Two Features From the Album
For devout fans of Kanye West, the events surrounding the release of his 10th studio album, "Donda," have been full of highs and lows, trials and tribulations. After much anticipation, the album eventually hit streaming services in its entirety on Aug. 29, 2021, but that seemingly wasn't the end of the "Donda" evolution process.
In the middle of the night on Sept. 28, 2021, "Donda" unexpectedly changed once again. This update, which Kanye gave no prior warning of, saw some pretty notable changes, including alterations to songs and the removal of two key feature artists. So, what are the exact changes Kanye made to "Donda"? Keep reading to find out.
What changes did Kanye West make to "Donda"? Here's a breakdown of them all.
Many Kanye fans were shocked to wake up on Sept. 28, 2021 to find out that an alternate version of "Donda" had been uploaded to major streaming services in the middle of the night. For Spotify, Tidal, and YouTube users, the original album was removed from the platforms entirely. For others, like those who subscribe to Apple Music, both versions appear directly next to each other in the rapper's discography.
The new version of "Donda" isn't entirely different from the original, but the changes were clearly substantial enough for Kanye that they warranted an entire re-upload of the project. To start off, the mixing and mastering of various tracks on the album were altered. On the song "Jail Pt. 2," Marilyn Manson's vocals were mixed a bit more cleanly than in the original release. On both "Junya" and "Junya Pt. 2," the already bass-heavy tracks see a boost in bass.
Much like the "Junya" parts, "Praise God," which features Travis Scott and Baby Keem, also saw an increase in bass that makes the instrumental sound more like the early version of the song previewed at Kanye's first Atlanta "Donda" listening party. On the track "Heaven and Hell," the choir that comes in at the song's climax is notably louder and clearer, once again reflecting the sounds heard at earlier "Donda" listening parties.
Another change to mixing was made on the emotional track "Come to Life," which is now much crisper and more finely tuned than the original version. "God Breathed" saw the same treatment, with cleaner mixing that highlights the soulful Vory feature at the end of the track much more.
Beyond mixing changes, Kanye also removed Chris Brown and KayCyy Pluto from the album entirely.
Perhaps the biggest surprise to come from Kanye's "Donda" update was the removal of two key feature artists from their respective tracks: Chris Brown and KayCyy Pluto. Chris's background vocals on "New Again" were removed entirely, replaced by both Kanye's singing and a choir harmonizing with him.
As for KayCyy, his hook on "Keep My Spirit Alive," which also features Westside Gunn and Conway the Machine, was entirely removed from the track. The song now begins with Kanye singing, another change that reflects an earlier version of the song, previewed at the second Atlanta "Donda" listening party.
Why did Kanye change "Donda"? This isn't the first time he has updated an album after its release.
Although many fans were surprised by Kanye's changes to "Donda," this isn't the only time the artist has altered a project after its release. "Yeezus," his genre-bending 2013 album, saw changes to the songs "Send It Up" and "Black Skinhead," in the weeks after its release.
Furthermore, in 2016, Kanye made major changes to "The Life of Pablo" shortly after sharing it with fans. The changes included adding Vic Mensa and Sia to "Wolves," splitting Frank Ocean's verse on "Wolves" into its own track titled "Frank's Track," and adding a new outro song, titled "Saint Pablo."
When he released "Ye" in 2018, he also changed the song, "I Thought About Killing You" because of a lack of sample clearance on the original beat.
The 2019 release of "Jesus Is King" saw a similar treatment. "Follow God" was given a more polished final mix after its initial release, as were "Use This Gospel" and "Everything We Need."
As for why he does this, Kanye has tweeted in the past that he considers his albums to be "living, breathing, changing creative expression."
It appears Kanye likes to let his projects simmer privately and in public before he identifies the tweaks needed to make each album perfect.