So far, Kanye West has slept in the Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta, reconstructed his childhood home in Chicago’s Soldier Field, pushed back the release date of Donda multiple times and, most recently, legally filed to change his name from Kanye Omari West to just “Ye.”
However, within all of that, West has announced he will not be requiring proof of a negative COVID-19 test or proof of vaccination to be admitted to the Donda listening party on August 26 in Chicago, Ill., according to The New York Post. Chicago Soldier Field is an outdoor venue with a maximum occupancy of 68,000 people; Thursday’s event will only be admitting 38,000 audience members. West has held two other listening shows within the last month—one in July and one in early August. Neither show required proof of a negative test or vaccine, either; however, Rolling Stone reports Mercedes-Benz Stadium offered Pfizer shots from the “moment doors opened to the beginning of the scheduled set time,” during the second show.
Chicago Soldier Stadium has not made an announcement about following in Atlanta’s footsteps.
Chicago Park District Spokeswoman Michelle Lemons spoke to the Chicago Tribune, stating: “We have worked with Soldier Field on Covid-19 safety protocols, as we have other venues including Wrigley and Guaranteed Rate Fields, and feel this event can be safely held with the proper mitigation efforts in place,” (h/t NY Post).
In July 2020, West is reported to have called the then-pending COVID-19 vaccines “the mark of the beasts” in a Forbes article that ran as he announced his “Birthday Party” platform and 2020 presidential candidacy. He has yet to make another statement about vaccines and his stance on them. However, per Rolling Stone, the Atlanta vaccination site was set up by a community organizing effort rather than West’s team.
In 2018, West posted a Tweet about wanting to change his name, so clearly, this has been on his mind for quite some time, but two days before the Donda listening party in Chicago, West officially filed to legally change his name—to “Ye,” with absolutely no other surname attached. West cited personal reasons and “provides no further explanation,” for as motivation, according to People.
Perhaps the explanation was already given by West during a 2018 interview with radio host Big Boy. Speaking about his eighth studio album Ye, the rapper-producer expressed, “I believe ‘ye’ is the most commonly used word in the Bible, and in the Bible, it means ‘you,’ so I’m you, I’m us, it’s us. It went from Kanye, which means ‘the only one,’ to just Ye—just being a reflection of our good, our bad, our confused, everything,” per The Guardian.
West, whose case is now in the hands of the California judicial system, filed the claim on Tuesday, August 24. The claim could take up to three months to process—which could mean we also have to wait another three months for Donda to officially release.
Updated: Wednesday, 8/25/21 at 1:53 p.m., ET: Now wait a damn minute...Ye done switched up on us real quick. The “All of the Lights” rapper is now offering free vaccines to those attending his Chicago Donda listening party on Thursday night. No, he’s still not requiring people to show proof of vaccination or proof of a negative COVID test, but there will be over 1,500 doses on-site that fans will have access to. TMZ reports the decision to administer the vaccines doesn’t come from Kanye’s team, but from Soldier Field management, which “worked with the City of Chicago to make this happen.”
The doses are split between the one-dose Johnson and Johnson vaccine and the two-dose Pfizer vaccine and officials will be on-site to assist in scheduling second doses for those who need them.
Will all 38,000 people be waiting in line to get the vaccine before going in and listening to a man—who doesn’t even require them upon admission—wax poetic on a set of his childhood home?