The pop icon says she doesn't agree with the controversial rapper's politics and was conflicted over his inclusion of DaBaby, whose inflammatory comments about HIV/AIDS she previously condemned as "hateful."
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Only one recent album is worthy of praise from the Queen Mother of pop music: Controversial rapper Ye (formerly known as Kanye West)'s long-delayed experimental opus Donda, which features vocals from DaBaby following his inflammatory comments about HIV and AIDS at Miami's Rolling Loud music festival in July.

Madonna shared her feelings on the contemporary release in an interview for V's latest cover story on her Madame X concert special for Paramount+, telling playwright Jeremy O. Harris that, in some ways, she's able to appreciate the art separate from the artist.

"I mean, the only thing that I've heard recently that has inspired me is Kanye's record Donda," she said. "I can't say that I agree with all of his politics and the way that he thinks of women, or unmarried people having sex, or the gay community. But his work is on the razor's edge, and it's inspiring and it's rare. Everybody was waiting so long for his record to come out and then finally when it came out, everybody else's record came out, too. And he still stood out."

Kanye West; Madonna; DaBaby
Madonna says Ye's album 'Donda' inspired her despite the inclusion of DaBaby.
| Credit: Kevin Mazur/WireImage; Kevin Mazur/Getty Images

When Harris probed Madonna on Ye's inclusion of DaBaby on the album — especially after the 63-year-old longtime equality activist released a statement condemning his "hateful" homophobic remarks at the Florida event — she admitted to feeling "conflicted" about it, but stressed that she wanted to "pay attention to the message, not the messenger" while consuming the album.

"Listen to the teachings. Don't get caught up in the teacher, what the teacher's doing. I mean, if you want to get down to dissect the character, look at the way Martin Luther King lived his life," she continued. "You know, he was a Christian, God-fearing man preaching about morals and values and family. And he had mistresses everywhere. And definitely, not living up to the image that he was presenting about himself, but does that take away from what he did for the world and how he sacrificed his life and how he was willing to work to failure, the ultimate failure, which is death by assassination? No."

Madonna and Ye previously collaborated on "Beat Goes On," a funky hip-pop song released on the former's 2008 album Hard Candy. Since then, Ye has steadily built up a renegade reputation thanks to his questionable attempts at entering politics in the 2020 race for the presidency, his vocal support for Donald Trump, and working with both DaBaby and Marilyn Manson on Donda after the latter was accused of abuse by over a dozen women.

Prior to Donda's release, Ye's 2020 collaboration with DaBaby, a remix of "Nah Nah Nah," was pulled from streaming services including Apple Music, Spotify, Tidal, YouTube Music, and Pandora in the wake of the Rolling Loud controversy.

During his July 25 set at the event, DaBaby seemingly praised male concertgoers for not "sucking dick in the parking lot" and for not showing "up today with HIV, AIDS, or any of them deadly sexually transmitted diseases that'll make you die in two to three weeks," among other statements. The 29-year-old offered a pseudo-apology for his remarks in his subsequent "Giving What It's Supposed to Give" music video, which included a title card reading: "Don't fight hate with hate. My apologies for being me the same way you want the freedom to be you." Still, he was dropped from numerous scheduled events, including Lollapalooza and the iHeartRadio Music Festival.

Read Madonna's full interview with Harris for V.

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