The past year has been challenging for everyone, but American rapper Kanye West has been really going through it. Amid the pandemic, he launched a failed presidential run, entered a mental health crisis, and hit a wall in his marriage with Kim Kardashian. Now; divorcing, healing, and getting stronger, West is back on the music scene with a new album, dropping this week. Named after his beloved late mother, Donda West, Donda got a big hype boost this week when a song from the album was previewed in an ad featuring Sha’Carri Richardson. Here’s what we know about Donda

No Child Left Behind

Sha'Carri Richardson

Fans of West have been teased for months about the upcoming album release, and now that we’ve heard the first sounds, it’s getting real. The commercial which Beats by Dre dropped this week, features Richardson – a 21-year-old Black Olympic hopeful who was cut from the team after failing a drug test. In the video, the buttery smooth sounds of Donda song No Child Left Behind plays and Richardson preps for a race. The lyrics play out; “… Never called on y’all/ Never count on y’all/ Always count on God/ He’s done miracles on me…”

Yahoo! shares, “As the commercial notes, Donda will premiere Thursday night at a listening event at Mercedes Benz Stadium in Atlanta, Georgia. The event is sold out, but don’t worry, it’ll be simultaneously live streamed literally all around the world thanks to Apple.”

What We Know About the Album

It’s clear from the tone struck in No Child Left Behind that in typical Kanye fashion, the new album will include some blunt truth bombs. In his music, West doesn’t shy away from giving himself credit for the things he’s achieved and calling out the people he thinks have tried to hold him back; Donda looks to be more of the same overall tone. With the year he’s had, West has earned some fighting back spirit. However, fans will note that No Child has a markedly different sound from past albums; West has been slowly transitioning to a more gospel-like sound, leaving his harder rap roots behind. 

This marks West’s 10th studio album, and the first since divorce with ex Kardashian. The name is a nod to West’s dearly beloved mother Donda who died in 2007. The West matriarch was recovering from plastic surgery in the Dominican Republic when she died of complications. Donda had health complications that should have disqualified her from the level of surgery she received, but the DR requirements are far less stringent, with devastating consequences. According to rumors, Donda is said to have recordings of its namesake’s voice throughout the album. 

As for the songs themselves, Metro reports that there’s no full song list yet but, “Songs included are: Donda, Remote, Daylight, Hurricane, No Child Left Behind, New Again, I Know God Breathed On This, 24/You’re Gonna Be OK and Come To Life

It’s believed Kanye has collaborated with the likes of Travis Scott, Lil Baby, Playboi Carti, Post Malone and Griselda, for the album.”

It’s unclear how his marriage will play into the tracks, but fans are eagerly listening for any hint of his thoughts on his divorce. Per Metro, “It was reported that at the Las Vegas listening party, Kanye played a song Welcome To My Life which featured the lyric: ‘Tell the assassins I escaped from Calabasas,’ which many took to him likening living in his marital home to prison.” Yikes.  

Kanye’s Challenging Year

Kanye West Irina Shayk

Speaking of West’s marriage, he and ex Kardashian are said to be co-parenting effectively. 

Vanity Fair reports, “It’s taken Kardashian and West a few months to be able to get to this point in their post-marriage relationship. Right after the reality star filed for separation from her husband of six years, the pair ‘didn’t have a lot of contact,’ another insider told E! News. But now, they’re ‘talking and getting along well,’ and figuring out how to navigate the future of their family. ‘Kim has always been open to co-parenting together and being able to do things as a family. Kanye needed some time, but he now seems more open to it,’ they added. ‘She knows how important family time is and wants the kids to have a great relationship with Kanye, so she’s willing to do whatever it takes to see that happen.'”

The former couple showed up for their kids Saturday, taking their four children to San Francisco’s Asian Art Museum together. Things seemed to be peaceful. West has been reportedly seen around with another woman recently, supermodel Irina Shayk. It’s wonderful to see the exes coming together for their children despite the bad blood between them. West reportedly blamed Kardashian for time he spent in a mental health institution receiving help during a bipolar episode. Donda could reflect some of that resentment; but hopefully, it won’t derail the coparenting relationship they’re seemingly building. 

With the listening party happening Thursday night and the album release Friday, fans are close to hearing the rapper’s newest music. Whether it will recall music from West’s peak or vibe with his more gospel newer music, it’s certain to be Kanye through and through.