The Meaning Behind Kanye West's 'Donda' Events in Atlanta and Chicago

Kanye West is giving fans an inside look into his life with every listening event he does for his upcoming album, Donda

At Thursday’s event at Chicago’s Soldier Field, fans were left in awe once again when the 44-year-old rapper seemingly lit himself on fire, staged a mock wedding with his estranged wife, Kim Kardashian West, and featured cameos by DaBaby and Marilyn Manson. As for the set itself, it appeared to be a recreation of Kanye’s childhood home.

The Chicago spectacle comes just weeks after Kanye held two listening events at Atlanta’s Mercedes-Benz stadium, where he again shocked his audience by appearing to levitate, and becoming openly emotional during one of his tracks.

Kanye West Cries Over ‘Losing My Family’ at Album Release Party Attended by Kim Kardashian

Kanye West Cries Over ‘Losing My Family’ at Album Release Party Attended by Kim Kardashian

ET has learned that for these events, Kanye worked with Balenciaga creative director Demna Gvasalia. The two first collaborated together on a DMX memorial shirt, with proceeds of $1 million going to the late rapper’s family.

As for the Donda events in Atlanta, these were significant because this is the city where Kanye was born. The productions centered around his late mother, Donda West, who died in 2007 at 58. The theme of these performances was protection, and set out to show Kanye receiving protection through his connection with his mother.

Watch Kanye West Levitate at Second ‘Donda’ Listening Event

Watch Kanye West Levitate at Second ‘Donda’ Listening Event

The event in Chicago was also significant because this is where Kanye grew up. There were also themes of protection at this event, but at the very end of the show, Kanye had symbolic ways of honoring the past and moving into a phase of purification and the next chapter. The house on fire and him on fire symbolized purification and moving on.

Kanye West’s ‘Donda’ listening event at Chicago’s Soldier Field on Aug. 26, 2021.

Kanye West’s ‘Donda’ listening event at Chicago’s Soldier Field on Aug. 26, 2021.

ET has learned that the overall message from Chicago’s listening event is about love being used as a force that moves everything forward and into a new phase. It’s about a new chapter and the healing power of love and the love he has for his mother.

The events come after a tough year for Kanye, whose wife, Kim, filed for divorce in February after seven years of marriage. 

However, a source told ET on Friday that Kim and Kanye “are on great terms.”

“Although they are going through a divorce, they still spend time together alone, or with their kids,” the source said, adding that “they make it a priority to meet up.”

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