Album review: ‘Donda’ by Kanye West

Album to follow up “Jesus is King” fails to hit the mark because of artists featured

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COURTESY OF KANYE WEST

West changed the name of the album a few times before deciding to name it after his mother.

COLE QUINN, Evergreen photo editor

Kanye West is a man who needs no introduction. West is arguably the most influential rap artist to come out of the 21st century. Ever since the release of “The College Dropout” in 2004, West has proven himself as a leader in the music industry.

For almost 15 years, West has dropped highly-praised albums. After taking a more Christian route with his recent albums, West continues on his path to salvation on his newest release, “Donda,” which was released under Def Jam Records on Aug. 29, 2021.

West has been working on the album ever since the release of “Jesus is King” and originally planned on releasing it as “Jesus is King Part II.” West changed the name again to “God’s Country” before naming it after his mother, Donda West.

West hyped the album into oblivion around mid-July. West held three listening events for his project — two at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta and one at Soldier Field in Chicago. He also held a livestream on Aug. 5 to accompany its release, before delaying it again to the end of that month.

With the amount of hype West generated, one would only expect to see an album greater than “My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy.”

There are some tracks on “Donda” that stand out more than the rest. Some of the tracks are arguably better than some tracks on MBDTF. The track “Jail,” coupled with “Donda Chant” before it, is the perfect opening for the album.

The inclusion of West’s friend, Jay-Z, also adds another layer of majesty. The melodies in the song are just as emotional as “Runaway,” and the lyrics regarding West’s downward spiral after his separation with Kim Kardashian fit the track.

“You made a choice that’s your bad, single life ain’t so bad

But we ain’t finna go there

Something’s off, I’ll tell you why

Guess who’s goin’ to jail tonight?”

The tracks “Come to Life” and “No Child Left Behind” are also highlights of the album. The tracks feel like a majestic tour through the soul of an enlightened individual. The tracks are the perfect resolution to a good album.

Not only does West supply the album with emotional tracks, but he also supplies the album with bangers. The track “Off the Grid” has a beat that will make any listener bob their head. The flows of West and Fivio Foreign, a rapper featured on the album, carry the track while Playboi Carti, another rapper, adds a flair of aggression mixed with fun.

Speaking of Playboi Carti, he appears later in “Junya” too, making it a real banger.

However, when it comes to examining the entirety of the album, some tracks fail to hit the mark or add nothing to the album.

One reason why some of these tracks fail to hit the mark is because of the artists featured. On “Hurricane,” West destroys the track by bringing in Lil Baby. While mumble rappers like Playboi Carti can make their voices sound unique and fun, Lil Baby sounds dull on pretty much every track he is on. He raps as if he is moaning into an autotuner.

Sometimes it is the production that ruins the song. In the track “Tell the Vision,” Pop Smoke vocals are thrown over a nice piano lick. However, Pop Smoke’s vocals sound like they are muffled by post-production to silence the sound of snare drums in the background.

The muffling of the drums sounds as if a middle school student loaded up the program Audacity on his mom’s computer and watched a one-minute tutorial on how to combine two songs into one.

Even though the album has moments of artistic merit, it fails to hold up to the massive amount of hype it generated. If an album is hyped to such a level as “Donda,” it should be a masterpiece that will stand the test of time. The disappointment is not enough to hinder the album of its moments, though. The album still supplies an ample amount of songs listeners can enjoy.

Score: 7.2/10