ATLANTA — A man who is rarely short on words, Kanye West didn’t even have a microphone.
Premiering his new album, “Donda,” in front of a packed crowd at the Mercedes-Benz Stadium here on Thursday night, the rapper, who has become known as much for his failed presidential run and his pending divorce as his music, chose not to say a single thing.
Dressed in a red jacket with matching pants, West walked around on a white tarp, delivering outsize gestures and dance moves to his new music for less than an hour before leaving. It was a decidedly different tone from his previous public listening sessions, including one he held in 2016 at Madison Square Garden before the release of “The Life of Pablo.” For much of the night, West stood in the center of the stadium’s football field, in the middle of a spotlight, surrounded by fog. When he walked around the venue, he spent a good portion of his time in front of the section where his four children with Kim Kardashian, North, Saint, Psalm and Chicago, were seated. Despite the fact that she has filed for divorce from West, Kardashian and her sister Khloe were also in attendance.
“Donda,” West’s 10th studio album, was scheduled to be released by G.O.O.D. Music/Def Jam Recordings on Friday, but it did not appear at midnight, when new music typically reaches streaming services, and still has not surfaced. Representatives for West did not respond to requests for comment about the plan for the album’s release.
The album, his first since 2019’s “Jesus Is King,” was named after the rapper’s late mother, Donda West, who began her career as a professor at Morris Brown College in Atlanta in the 1970s. Kanye West was born in the city during this time, although the family would eventually relocate to Chicago. His mother died in 2007 from complications related to plastic surgery. Presumably in honor of her Atlanta ties, West gave 5,000 tickets to Thursday’s listening session to faculty and students at historically black colleges and universities in the city, including Morris Brown, Clark Atlanta, Morehouse and Spelman.