During an intimate album listening party in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, on Thursday evening, the rapper, 40, revealed the seven new tracks off the EP entitled simply YE. The album is now available on all streaming services.
A group of handpicked stars including Chris Rock, Jonah Hill, Big Sean and Pusha T, as well as media and industry heavyweights gathered around bonfires to listen to the album with the Rocky Mountains in the background just after 10 p.m. local time.
The short seven tracks — featuring Kid Cudi, Ty Dolla $ign, John Legend and a surprise feature by Nicki Minaj – addressed everything from his mental health and drug addiction to Tristan Thompson‘s cheating scandal and wife Kim Kardashian West‘s reaction to his infamous declaration that slavery was a choice.
The rapper revealed how Kardashian West reacted after his comments about slavery on “Wouldn’t Leave.”
“They say, “Build your own,” I said, “How, Sway?/I said, “Slavery a choice,” they say, “How, Ye?”/Just imagine if they caught me on a wild day/Now I’m on fifty blogs gettin’ fifty calls/Wife calling screaming saying we’re about to lose it all I had to calm her down ‘cos she couldn’t breathe/I told her she could leave me now but she wouldn’t leave,” he rapped. “This is what they mean for better or for worse huh?”
On “I Thought About Killing You,” West raps about premeditated murder — though fans are divided on if he’s referring to Kardashian West or his own “shadow self.”
The most beautiful thoughts are always besides the darkest/Today, I seriously thought about killing you/I contemplated, premeditated murder/And I think about killing myself/And I love myself way more than I love you, so…/Today, I thought about killing you, premeditated murder/You’d only care enough to kill somebody you love/The most beautiful thoughts are always inside the darkest
Addressing Thompson’s cheating on sister-in-law Khloé Kardashian, West rapped, “All these thots on Christian Mingle/That’s what almost got Tristan single.”
The Yeezy designer also name-checked Stormy Daniels, his mother-in-law Kris Jenner’s boyfriend Corey Gamble and Russell Simmons, who has recently been accused of sexual misconduct and has said West is “unraveling in public.”
“Russell Simmons want to pray for me too/ I pray for him because he got Me Too’d,” he rapped. West did not, perhaps surprisingly, mention President Donald Trump.
West also spoke about his struggles with drug addiction and his mental health on “Yikes,” confirming he is bipolar and calling it his “superpower” declaring “ain’t no disability, I’m a superhero.”
The cover, which Kardashian West tweeted was shot on the way to the listening party, features an image of the mountains with a lime green text overlay reading, “I hate being bipolar it’s awesome.”
“Kanye seemed to be really at peace with himself,” a source in attendance at the listening party tells PEOPLE. “When they played the record everyone was standing around a bonfire and dancing. The whole event was so well organized and chill and cool.”
Kardashian West was supportive of her husband and just as laidback, the onlooker reveals.
“Kim was there next to Kanye the whole time and looked to be having a lot of fun. She looked amazing! Earlier she was hanging out in the barn where they were serving food and drinks, just chilling, talking to people like 2Chainz,” the source says. “Everyone was taking pics but she didn’t care at all.”
West rapped about the couple’s daughters North and Chicago on the track “Violent Crimes,” featuring Minaj.
“Father forgive me, I’m scared of the karma/’Cause now I see women as somethin’ to nurture/Not somethin’ to conquer/No daddy don’t play, not when it come to they daughters/Don’t do no yoga, don’t do pilates/Just play piano and stick to karate/I pray your body’s draped more like mine and not like your mommy’s.”
West did not talk before debuting the album but walked into the crowd arm-in-arm with Kardashian West, followed closely by his former manager Scooter Braun.
It was left to comedian Rock to introduce the rapper.
“Welcome to the world premiere of the latest opus from the one and only Kanye West entitled YE,” Rock announced.
“Remember this rap music, hip-hop music, is the first art form created by free black men. And no black man has taken more advantage of his freedom than Kanye West,” adding, “Listen without prejudice.”
After West publicly announced his album in a series of tweets in April — writing “my album is 7 songs” — the father of three released two songs, “Ye Vs. The People” featuring T.I. and “Lift Yourself.” Neither made it on the album.
That same month, West teased the artwork for the album when he tweeted a text conversation between him and his friend Wes. “This is my album cover. This is plastic surgeon Jan Adams. The person who performed my mom’s final surgery. Do you have any title ideas?” West wrote along with a photo of the California doctor who operated on his late mother Donda before her sudden death in November 2007.
Wes also suggested that West call the album Love Everyone to which the rapper enthusiastically responded with “I love that.” (He since had a change of heart.)
West received major backlash for suggesting slavery is “a choice” during a TMZ interview, which aired the same day he told Charlamagne tha God in a sit-down that he suffered from an opioid addiction after becoming dependent on the pain medications following a liposuction procedure in 2016.
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Shortly before West’s media attention, sources told PEOPLE that he cut off contact with multiple people in his inner circle and confirmed that he stopped working with a manager and lawyer. (Braun, who helped launch Justin Bieber to fame and also works with Ariana Grande, was on West’s team for the over two years. However, Braun was by his side Thursday night. West also split with his longtime manager Izvor “Izzy” Zivkovic.)
An insider previously told PEOPLE that West was so excited about his latest projects that he sometimes forgot to respect other people’s boundaries.
“He’s all over the place. Excited. Loud. He’s sleeping very little, texting at all hours of the day or night. Coming up with ideas, sending them to people and instructing everyone to drop everything and collaborate. He truly feels like it’s the most exciting stuff in the world,” the insider said during the production of the album.
“He’ll get something in his mind – a lyric or even a phrase, and he’s so excited that he’ll send 23 texts about it at 2:30 in the morning,” the friend continues. “It’s like he has discovered a cure for cancer.”
Another friend of West reiterated similar sentiments at the time: “The way he says things with such affirmation, he genuinely believes he’s God and a genius and that he can do everything on his own.”
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The latest album is over two years in the making as ‘Ye told fans in February 2016, “My next album is titled ‘Turbo Grafx 16’ as of now.” (The Turbo Grafx 16 was a popular game console in the ’80s.)
But West is known to change the creative direction of albums in the 11th-hour: He recently changed Pusha T’s cover art for his new album DAYTONA by paying $85,000 to license a photo of Whitney Houston‘s drug-covered bathroom.
Back in early 2015, The Life of Pablo went through several name changes from So Help Me God to SWISH before its official release in February 2016.
West will also be releasing his joint project with Kid Cudi, titled Kids See Ghosts, on June 8 before Nas’ album, his first since Life Is Good in 2012, on June 15 and Teyana Taylor’s sophomore album on June 22, both of which West is producing as part of G.O.O.D Music.