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Let's Talk: Should we idolise Kanye West’s Donda in light of his support of Marilyn Manson and DaBaby?

30 August 2021 | 4:00 pm | Parry Tritsiniotis

To put it to the test we started a discussion on our social media to answer the question of how they're responding to the new Kanye West album

Kanye West's 10th studio album, 'Donda' was released last night. The record has one one of the most chaotic rollouts in music history, featuring a range of release dates, 3 live streamed listening events in stadiums and of course with Kanye West a heap of controversy. None more so then, at his third listening event, having Marilyn Manson and DaBaby on stage. The duo are featured on a bonus track on the album, titled, 'Jail pt 2'.

Marilyn Manson was recently dropped by his record label, Loma Vista Recordings due to allegations of sexual and emotional abuse from Phoebe Bridgers, Manson’s former stylist Love Bailey, Wolf Alice’s Ellie Rowsell and Game of Thrones actress Esme Bianco. In February, Manson's former partner, Evan Rachel Woods accused him of grooming, and the use of racial slurs in their relationship.

Also featuring on the same song is DaBaby, who has stood by inflammatory homophobic comments he made on the main stage of Rolling Loud Miami. After standing by his comments before apologising, and then deleting the post, it's fair to say there's a slim chance DaBaby has done any reflection on his decision to be hateful.

So, with the biggest and one of the most celebrated artists in the world cosigning these horrible people, how does that effect the listening experience of 'Donda' from Kanye fans? Is it right to idolise Kanye West’s Donda in light of his support of DaBaby and Marilyn Manson? To put it to the test we started a discussion on our social media to answer the question. All the below comments were submitted by our readership, who will remain anonymous.

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It's important to note that this had to be done as a general survey as the editor of Purple Sneakers is a white male and when discussing issues such as these a range of perspectives must be considered, importantly from non-male, POC and First Nations community members.

Is it right to idolise Kanye West’s Donda in light of his support of DaBaby and Marilyn Manson?

“The DaBaby inclusion is like sure, be inflammatory and shit, it’s very classic Kanye but having Marilyn there after all the Evan Rachel Wood stuff last year feels a particular type of evil that shouldn’t really be ignored or glorified as some sort of perverse artistic expression.” 

“No, Because Marilyn Manson is an alleged abuser”. 

"Not from an editorial perspective at least? or in any kind of public commentary? Basically I don’t think any review of Donda can overlook this. It’s not exactly an album I’d be posting on my IG story & praising…. but having said that i’m literally listening to it right now, so take this with a grain of salt. I feel like there’s a lot of artists that do problematic shit, probs including some people I listen to! But there’s a difference between giving someone 0.00001c on a Spotify stream, and actively putting them on a pedestal/refusing to address the issues overshadowing this release"

“Absolutely not. Considering how widely publicised the views and behaviours and harms caused by these people, working with them from here is a deliberate choice from Kanye West. It's a choice to align with them and their views and it'll cause very real harm, directly and indirectly.” 

"No way! He is supporting homophobia and an alleged rapist! It is scary the influence he could have with his radical behaviour, especially with such a huge platform"

“I heard he would be working with Marilyn Manson and decided I wouldn't listen or stream; it's not going to have a big impact on the numbers but I don't want to give any support to him. His previous behaviour (e.g. aligning himself with Trump) also meant I wasn't inclined to before hearing the people on the album, to be honest.” 

“This is SUCH a good question, and I think it comes down to can we separate the ART from the ARTIST? 

We seem to be ok when Chris Brown still gets played on the radio, or Michael Jackson still gets played at weddings, and don’t seem to bat much of an eyelid even though we KNOW that these people are abusers. General speaking, Spotify doesn't take down the music of abusers, the tracks don’t stop getting played on the radio, or by DJs, yet we still know these people are “canceled” I think we justify this to ourselves by saying that the art is seperate from the artist. Is it really though? 

One good way to look at this is to imagine you or your friend, or someone from your family was the victim of an abuser that was still getting air time and accolades and financially benefiting off their fame. Probably would feel pretty shit. That being said, I’m listening to the album now, and I’m enjoying it, but as I’m writing this I’m thinking about how fucked up that is… what is wrong with us?”

“It’s really tough… I still haven’t listened, because of the moral unease. Kanye West one of the most progressive and forward thinking musicians in recent memory, but the live ‘stunt’ seems in really bad taste. Calculated, bordering on cruel.”

“No way! Seeing this was the final straw for me and Kanye especially after his Trump era”.

“There is something weird about this release. I mean it’s incredibly well produced but after this stunt I kinda do feel different about it. My other observation is the lack of female collaborators on the record. The credits have nearly 6-8 co writers on each song and I’ve really found it hard to find any female or non male collaborators. Of course I can’t deny the album is incredible but there is something different about this release after so much that’s happened - Trump, the Marilyn Manson stunt among so many I can’t even remember.” 

“No I don't think so. I'm pretty sure that if any other artist brings out a homophobe and someone with multiple accusations of rape, they are going to get cancelled, yet everyone seems to just ignore this because they really like his music. Doesn't seem right. Not too mention all the stuff he's said about abortion”  

“A little conflicted. As a Kanye fan I’m so used to him doing stupid shit like this to get people talking about him so I kind of block it out and just listen to the music instead. However, this time I feel like the ‘symbolism’ of this doesn’t excuse how insensitive this is to the affected people and victims.” 

“As always with Kanye I am conflicted. He has Manson, DaBaby (homophobe), Chris Brown (abuser) on his album. He can say or do anything (literally promote Trump) and he knows he’ll still be successful and still get promotion from other artists. He loves to be problematic.” 

“I listened to the album and think it’s pretty good, better than the last two for sure. HOWEVER it feels like Kanye West regularly does things that are intentionally provocative and it feels gross that he can do whatever he wants with very few consequences.” 

"Nooooo wayyyyyy first MAGA now this. Like absolutely not if it was anyone but Kanye it wouldn’t fly. Ppl idolise his mental health problems and equate these problems with accessing some form of high art. Like sorry no at this point he’s platforming abusers… imagine the families of these abusers seeing this. The only thing to idolise about his work, much like the work of his mate Donald, is his ability to create press and an endless loop of dialogue around his character. It’s gross but you can’t deny it works. Men love to act like they don’t understand where “rape culture” comes from or like where misogyny/bigotry is being perpetuated meanwhile they r doing shit like this /protecting people like this which is the exact fucking reason we r still having these conversations"

"Honestly no. Kanye West had so much hype built up for this album and so many people tuning in for the listening parties. He didn’t have to do something with a known abuser and homophobe. Supporting them has horrible impacts for the people Manson and DaBaby have hurt. No matter if the music is good or not people should really try to not support artists that continually do and say bad things for negative attention"

"Kanye West Stans have a long history of making excuses for bad people why would they suddenly stop at Donda. It’s disappointing but not at all surprising. I am not surprised that he is not being held accountable because men love to protect other men. It’s disappointing but not at all surprising."

"It's extremely fucked up."

"What are u trying to say? Are you just being divisive for the sake of it ? I get that maybe he’s trying to say people are nuanced and cancel culture blah blah but doesn’t this just tell people ‘I can do bad things and still get on a Kanye album’ not even in spite of it but BECAUSE of it idk it would just be really interesting to know the message he is trying to send. Also homophobia and sexual assault are things he has probably never had to deal with so it makes sense that he wouldn’t understand how confronting this would be to his fans who have dealt with those things."

Contributions have been made via our Instagram DMs.