Kanye West raises his sound on ‘Donda’
After months of teasers and fake album announcements, Kanye West released his 10th studio album on Sunday, “Donda,” titled after his mother.
There has been fan speculation as to who actually released “Donda”. West shared a Instagram post Sunday that said: “UNIVERSAL HAS PUT MY ALBUM WITHOUT MY APPROVAL AND THEY BLOCKED PRISON 2 FROM BEING ON THE ALBUM.” While some fans believe the West Universal Records label released this album without their approval, others believe it was just another marketing stunt from West himself.
Many fans also believe that “Donda” could have a similar rollout to her album “The Life Of Pablo”, where songs were added or remixed in the weeks following the initial release. “Donda”, at the time of publication, was released as a clean project, censoring any explicit language throughout the album.
Regardless of what goes on behind the scenes, it’s clear that “Donda” is a masterpiece. This album contains 27 songs and lasts 1 hour and 48 minutes. A project of this length is bound to have a few hiccups, but when the album hits its peak, it hits them hard.
Following the intro, “Donda Chant”, comes a catchy and long-awaited collaboration with Jay-Z, “Jail”. This song, like many others that follow it, is moving. It features a simple instrument with an electric guitar riff, letting the vocals of West and Jay-Z uplift the track.
After “God Breathed” and the awkward “Off The Grid” comes “Hurricane”, with The Weeknd and Lil Baby. The Weeknd’s angelic voice along with Lil Baby’s fiery verse makes it the perfect introduction to West’s revealing verse.
Two songs later, one of the most moving and beautiful tracks of the project appears: “Jonah”. This song begins with a witty-sounding chorus and verse from Vory and effectively progresses to a passionate verse from Lil Durk, where it evokes the loss of his brother.
While “Jonah” is an extremely moving track, the next three tracks show how difficult it is to make a 27 song album without dull moments. While none of these songs necessarily take away the positives from the project, they offer nothing conceptually new or unique.
“Moon” was a track that had garnered attention prior to the album’s release as leaks were made on social media, and it didn’t disappoint. This track is ethereal and from another world, with celestial voices from Don Toliver and Kid Cudi. While this song doesn’t sound grand or anthemic on the surface, it does create a feeling of thrill with every listen.
After “Donda” and “Keep My Spirit Alive” comes the project’s most heartfelt and revealing track, “Jesus Lord”. West’s verse is vulnerable and raw, speaking of the struggles within his family and telling a beautiful and heart-wrenching story in the process. His verse is followed by a phenomenal verse by Jay Electronica and a touching outro by Larry Hoover Jr.
The most out of place and disappointing track on the project, especially considering how closely it follows West’s best song on the album, is “Tell The Vision.” This song features a monotonous piano instrument and a distorted, calm verse from the end of Pop Smoke that wouldn’t have found its place elsewhere on the album.
Later in the project, West and Roddy Ricch collaborate on an uplifting track with familiar gospel instrumentals and a moving Shenseea outro on “Pure Souls”. “Come to Life” is another powerful track that presents West in its most revealing aspect, touching on his relationship with ex-wife Kim Kardashian-West and his hopes for a better future.
“No Child Left Behind”, with Vory, was another highly anticipated track before the release of “Donda”, and it exceeded expectations. It serves as the perfect ending to the album, celebrating the moving project before heading to some of the remix tracks.
The last four tracks serve as a remix of songs previously heard on the project. None of them remove the originals, but they certainly don’t improve the project in any way. “Jail pt 2” features a verse from DaBaby instead of Jay-Z, and “Jesus Lord pt 2” adds verses from Sheek Louch, Jadakiss and Styles P. Their respective verses serve their purpose, but they do not arrive to do it. match the energy of West and Jay Electronica.
“Donda”, although long and heavy, might just be the most needed project of the year. West’s spirituality and vulnerability shines through this project from start to finish, both through him and the feature films. This project consists of touching and heartbreaking pieces, with more than its fair share of uplifting and precious moments.
It’s fair to say that there is hardly any circumstance where you can enjoy every song on a 27-track album, but “Donda” is perhaps the closest to ever having done. It’s a project that gets better with every listening. The sincerity throughout the project surpasses almost any weak spot it can have from a country mile.
Rating: 4.5 / 5