Kanye West Changed Music And Fashion. Are Sports Next?

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When Ye, better known as Kanye West, released his debut album The College Dropout on February 10th, 2004, popular music changed.

The album went 3x platinum and received several Grammy nominations, but its influence exceeded its album sales.

West took topics like education, family, faith, and fallibility and made them mainstream, a stark contrast to the bravado that blared in the early 2000s.

With his debut, he shifted the cultural lexicon. Then, four years later, he turned the sonic tide of popular music with his 808s & Heartbreak, named after the Roland TR-808.

Unlike the soulful sound of his debut, 808s was dredged in darkness, simmered in sorrow, and marinated in melancholic Auto-Tune. Ye’s recipe for the album paved the way for trap music.

Ye’s foray into fashion has been well-documented, from his days interning at Fendi, founding Yeezy, and partnering with Balenciaga, Gap GPS , and others.

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Which begs the question: what next?

All signs point to sports.

Kanye West: Building Donda Doves and Donda Sports

Kanye West has assembled a team of elite high school athletes to play for his Donda Doves basketball team as a part of his new prep school, Donda Academy, located in Simi Valley, California.

The Donda Academy is named after Ye’s late mother, Donda West, a professor for 31 years and a chairwoman at the Chicago State University.

Ye’s prep school will provide free tuition and have 60 students for its first year, according to Dometi Pongo, a correspondent with MTV News,

The inaugural class, many of whom were the best at their previous schools, including many top-ranked players from the Class of 2023, per a team profile in SLAM Magazine. 

Robert Dillingham, a native of North Carolina, is a 5-star recruit, one of the top point guards of the Class of 2023, and the No. 6 ranked player on the ESPN 60.

Meanwhile, Zion Cruz, a native of Jersey City, is the second-highest ranked shooting guard in the country, per 24/7 Sports.

And Javonte Taylor, a native of Chicago like West, is the No. 4 ranked small forward and No. 11 overall ranked player on the ESPN 60 for 2023.

Other top prospects a part of the Donda Doves team include:

  • Brandon White
  • Omarion Bodrick
  • Seven Bahati
  • Bryce Baker
  • Jalen Hooks
  • Chuck Bailey
  • Braeden Moore
  • Jacki Howard

The Doves played on February 2nd in Miami, February 5th in Chicago, and will be playing again on March 2nd in Los Angeles.

Meanwhile, earlier this month, Donda Sports announced via press release on February 1st that former NFL Pro-Bowler, Super Bowl Champion, and Tampa Bay Buccaneer Antonio Brown had joined Donda Sports.

“He will join Ye and [Justin] LaBoy to bring an athlete’s perspective to all aspects of the organization,” said the release.

According to an Instagram post made by Brown on February 7th, he will act as President of the organization. “Donda is about ownership, empowerment, and discovering the next superheroes,” he said in the post.

The last six months are an exciting change for West, who has had tremendous success in music and fashion. Only time will tell if he impacts the world of sports as he has in music and fashion. If his track record is any indication, all signs point to yes.