Fans Dish on their Experience During Kanye West’s Donda listening event

The set of Kanye Wests Donda listening event, which features a replica of the artists childhood home and various people in all-black clothing. (Courtesy of Stafford Hipp)

The set of Kanye West’s “Donda” listening event, which features a replica of the artist’s childhood home and various people in all-black clothing. (Courtesy of Stafford Hipp)

It’s a Chicago night in the last week of August and a body on fire makes its entrance to Soldier Field. The house in the middle of the field appears to have flames projected onto it as well.

The fiery display was the beginning of Kanye West’s listening event for his latest album, “Donda.” The house in the middle of Soldier Field is a replica of West’s childhood home here in Chicago. The entire event was a wild yet intriguing journey, especially with its fiery beginning.

“That was pretty wild,” said Stafford Hipp, a fan in attendance. “My friend and I thought that they were gonna burn the whole house down. And then once they started, like, projection mapping fire, we  were like, ‘Oh, this is crazy.’ But, I guess there’s no real fire.”

West hosted two previous listening events for the album at the Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta. Between all three events, there were various changes made to the album. In the first two events, Jay-Z was featured in one of the songs. During the listening event at Soldier Field, West played the same song but with a verse from DaBaby.

“I was not a fan of the version of ‘Jail’ he played, replacing Jay-Z and putting DaBaby on instead,” said Mike Miesuk, another fan who attended the listening event at Soldier Field.

Hipp agrees with the sentiment, explaining that he preferred Jay-Z’s version to the version with DaBaby that West eventually settled on

Similarly, neither of them was thrilled by the fact that Marilyn Manson and DaBaby were surprise special guests at the event — just one of the many intriguing and head-turning moments of the night.

“So, that’s another thing I didn’t fully comprehend until later,” Hipp said. “I did not know that was DaBaby at first. And then my friend and I were like, ‘Oh, that’s Marilyn Manson. That’s weird.’”

Miesuk said he didn’t understand what made Kanye invite the duo out. He also found it strange that West brought out two men who have assaulted women in the past while doing a listening party for an album honoring his late mother.

In February of this year, actress Evan Rachel Wood officially alleged that Marilyn Manson abused her. Wood’s allegation was the latest of Manson’s long history of alleged and confirmed acts of abuse. As for DaBaby, a video of him slapping a female fan in a club circulated on social media last year.

Another interesting part of the event would be its ending: Kim Kardashian walking in a wedding dress. Another point of intrigue and some possible head scratches, as the couple filed for divorce earlier this year.

“I was able to see down in the corner, and she was coming out of the corner, and I just shouted the word ‘bride,’” Miesuk said. “And everybody in our section looked over at [her]. And I was kind of like, ‘ah, yeah, that is probably exactly how I expected this to end.’”

People in Hipp’s section didn’t believe it was Kim Kardashian. . Hipp didn’t find out that it was Kardashian until later in the night when he saw media coverage of her appearance.

The album was officially released on the morning of Sunday, Aug. 29. Soon after the album’s highly anticipated release, West took to his Instagram to allege that his label, Universal Music Group, had released it without his approval.

Miesuk is conflicted when it comes to believing the allegations, while Hipp doesn’t really believe them. Miesuke brings up the fact that West has talked about artists owning their masters and having control over their music. But, he also finds it odd that with West’s power and a music label of his own that the album was released without his permission.

“I have a really hard time believing that Kanye didn’t give approval, because does that mean that the album was leaked?” Hipp said. “The whole updated album was leaked. That doesn’t really make sense. So, he’s probably just trying to build up media hype.”

Ultimately, the most important thing of the night was whether or not people actively enjoyed the music. Hipp says the appeal of the album was remembering the time he was at the event listening to it for the first time and the energy within the stadium.

Miesuke enjoyed the Sunday service choir that was added to some of the songs — choirs in rap songs are something he tends to enjoy. He admits that some of the songs felt like they were unfinished snippets rather than full songs.

“Donda” has 23 songs on Billboard’s Top 100 chart with two of them landing in the Top 10. The album launched at number 1 with 309,000 units sold, surpassing Olivia Rodrigo’s “Sour.”