This article was published on February 22 and updated on February 25
It's been an incredibly tiring month for anyone tracking Kanye West. Over the course of a couple weeks, he separated from Julia Fox, beefed with everyone from Billie Eilish to Pete Davidson to, uh, Peppa Pig, had a fling with a Kim Kardashian clone, and starred in a Netflix documentary series, all while teasing DONDA 2, which was supposed to drop on February 22, the same day as his Miami listening party.
But then it was D-Day. DONDA Day. February 22. And no DONDA 2 in sight.
Ye's PR mentioned that sales for the device have surpassed $2 million, by the way.
Wonder if the people with the first generation Stem Player from last year are doubly screwed out of hearing DONDA 2 — the one that Ye and tech company Kano launched last week is apparently the second, upgraded iteration — but at least they're not alone in waiting for the new album, which features Soulja Boy, alleged rapist Marilyn Manson, and domestic abuser XXXTentacion.
Fans who were expecting to wake up to a new Kanye album were initially bummed.
The first DONDA partially leaked on TikTok, so it fits that unconfirmed early versions of DONDA 2 would start proliferating among fans sooner or later.
Enterprising folks presumably recorded Ye's DONDA 2 listening party in Miami and chopped it up to create own bootleg versions of the album, though the poor audio quality will likely keep fans at arm's length.
Speaking of, that Miami listening party goes down on the evening of February 22 and, if it's anything like last year's Kanye events, it won't actually correlate with DONDA 2's release.
Perhaps some new merch will release, coinciding with the YEEZY GAP Engineered by Balenciaga collection that dropped on February 23.
But, like DONDA 2, the YEEZY GAP Engineered by Balenciaga line (what a mouthful!) was supposed to go live on February 22 — no dice. The day after his Miami show, where DONDA 2 debuted (sound issues and all), there was still nothing.
I'd have expected Kanye to keep tinkering with his Future-produced album even after the performance, though it has apparently dropped, finally.
Kanye fans noticed that some tracks were uploaded to the Stem Player's website in the early afternoon of February 23, where they can only be accessed by connecting one's computer to Ye's Stem Player.
Only four songs were immediately available on the site, though the complete album finally arrived on February 24. Fans speculated that the tracks were being uploaded in real time as they're being completed, which would hardly be out of Kanye's chaotic wheelhouse.
Of course, the inevitable process of ripping and sharing the music began immediately. Fakes and bootlegs are proliferating across the internet (and presumably some phishing links disguised as download links) — there's even an invite-only DONDA 2 leaks Subreddit that's sure to be reported sooner or later.
For legal reasons, we'll clarify that we do not endorse leaks of the album. With an artist as infamous as Kanye, though, it was always inevitable.
Remember, Ye pledged that DONDA 2 wouldn't drop on conventional streaming services.
Alex Klein, who founded the company that produced the Stem Player, insists that the device is the only "intended" way to hear DONDA 2 but the kids are gonna hear the new album one way or another.