Where’s ‘Donda’? Why Kanye West is the king of the album roll-out campaign

As we draw nearer to the release of Kanye West’s 10th album, Donda­, presently standing to arrive on Sunday, the rapper and producer has been putting fans, the media and the wider music industry through the ringer in the lead up. Release dates were announced and missed without explanation, changing variations of the album tracklist were circulated online without commentary, album listening parties were transformed into sold-out arena events and West has reportedly decamped from his $60 million Los Angeles mansion to the locker rooms of Atlanta’s Mercedes Benz Stadium with his production gear to finish the recording.

While all that was going on, West has been incommunicado. The marathon interviews of old, where he rhapsodised about seemingly everything from fashion to philosophy, have been replaced by a wall of silence. Only a few select surrogates have been sanctioned to speak on Donda’s progress, including estranged wife Kim Kardashian and musical collaborator Mike Dean.

By the time his third album Graduation was ready, West was already known for missing release dates as fast as they were announced. But the chance to drop the album on the same day as the anticipated release of the album Curtis by 50 Cent was too good to pass up. Fortunately, 50 Cent – a savvy self-promoter if there ever was one – welcomed the challenge of seeing who would get the most first-week album sales. And thus began one of hip-hop’s most celebrated battles, with both artists adopting different strategies.