Kanye West has built a studio in a Ugandan safari lodge to finish his album

Will it sound different in Uganda.
Will it sound different in Uganda.
Image: Reuters/Mario Anzuoni
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Kanye West believes that Uganda will help him finish, and perfect, his long-awaited album. The publicity may be good for Uganda, but the trip could be dismissed as the latest stunt in months of disconcerting public appearances for the Grammy-winning rapper.

West arrived with his wife Kim Kardashian West and their eldest daughter North at Entebbe International Airport on Friday Oct. 12. The Wests and their entourage are staying at the Chobe Safari Lodge in Murchison Falls National Park on the banks of the Nile River.

The rapper, whose avid support of president Donald Trump’s “Make America Great Again” polices has alienated much of his fan base, took over the Ugandan lodge for the duration of their stay until Oct. 19. A video on TMZ shows West sitting on the reception counter before swinging his daughter around what looks like the luxury lodge’s entrance hall.

Guests who were booked in were fully refunded, with an extra 200% refund bonus, according to Uganda’s The Monitor newspaper. Ugandan media reports are hoping West’s stay will boost tourism in a country that has failed to capitalize on its natural attractions. West and his wife also met with president Yoweri Museveni, and gifted him a pair of sneakers. Museveni hopes having the high-profile couple in the country will help promote tourism and the arts. At home, Museveni has not been as friendly to artistes entering politics, after rapper turned lawmaker Bobi Wine was detained and beaten by military police.

West hopes the sounds of Uganda will help him complete his much-anticipated ninth album Yandhi. The album was due at the end of September but West postponed it, saying the album, which was already good, needed an energy that he could only find in Africa.

“I felt this energy when I was in Chicago, I felt the roots so we have to go to what is known as Africa,” West told TMZ two weeks before his trip. “I just need to go and find out what it’s really called to grab the soil and be.”

West’ team set up a pop-up studio on the resort and are already working on the music. In an over 11-minutes long Periscope video, West is draped in a Ugandan flag, and seen rapping over what will probably be tracks on the upcoming album. He moves around, leaving the studio, carrying the mic into the open air, likely to record the natural sounds he promised TMZ the album would contain. .

West also told TMZ the new album would be a reflection of West as “fully himself,” off his medication and incorporating sounds never heard before. The album, now due on Nov. 23, is West’s attempt to better the albums that catapulted his career but also introduce this new persona Yé to fans.

On the weekend, Nigerian producer and performer Mystro posted a video of himself from inside the dome studio, with West listening his new track “Immediately.” There’s no official word yet on whether West will be featuring any African artists.

While Uganda tourism officials and African music producers may be excited about West’s trip, his visit to the continent comes with growing concerns over West’s increasingly erratic behavior. His trip to Africa may draw parallels with Dave Chappelle’s 2005 escape to the coastal city of Durban in South Africa after the comedian abruptly quit his hit TV show. While Chappelle’s trip was largely private, West’s social media team has posted regular updates of West working on his album, making it clear that this is a business trip.