Review: Kanye West’s Tenth Studio Album, “Donda”

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Photo Courtesy of Axel Antas-Bergkvist

Singer Kayne West is seen performing. https://unsplash.com/photos/XUdIi04ohps

After being delayed for over a year, three listening parties, and an uncountable number of changes and controversies, Kanye West’s 10th solo studio album, Donda, is finally here. I’ve listened to the album from beginning to end six times, and on shuffle numerous more; so, I’m ready to give y’all my honest thoughts.
The twenty-seven tracks and 109 minutes that make up Donda are full of variety, to say the least. The album contains features from Playboi Carti, Jay-Z, Kid Cudi, Marilyn Manson, and numerous other artists. Donda, named after West’s late mother, features nothing but a black screen as its album art, which some speculate might be a placeholder, although after seeing the apparel that West is releasing with the album, it appears as though this is the final album art.
The album starts with Donda Chant, a 52 second “song” that consists of the name “Donda” being repeated by a woman. While to most listeners, this seems very strange and unnecessary, the pace at which “Donda” is said lines up with West’s mothers’s last heartbeats. “Donda” is said 58 times to allude to her age when she passed, 58.
After this, we hear the rock-like beats of Jail begin to play, which features one of West’s former frequent collaborators, Jay-Z. Jay-Z and West hadn’t collaborated since 2016, as Jay-Z made clear he did not agree with West’s support of former President Trump. Jay-Z raps “This might be the return of the throne,” a reference to West’s and Jay-Z’s 2011 collab album, Watch the Throne. This could, hopefully, mean a future Kanye Jay-Z collaboration album is near.
After Jail and God Breathed, Off the Grid begins playing, which features appearances from Playboi Carti and Fivio Foreign, and in my opinion, the best Kanye West verse since Saint Pablo in 2016 on The Life of Pablo. West’s flow seems to show that his prime is still in front of us, even if it is slowly fading.
On the twelfth track, Remote Control, West ends the song with a sample of the popular 2016 meme, Globglogabgalab. Yes, it’s as weird as it sounds. This caused West to face backlash, as during the second listening party, Kid Cudi was featured on the song, although it appears West scratched his appearance to make room for the Globglogabgalab.
In New Again, the eighteenth track on Donda, West features singer Chris Brown, who has had a history of controversy. In 2009, Brown plead guilty to a felony assault charge for assaulting his former girlfriend, singer Rihanna. It seems as though West doesn’t care to shy himself away from controversy either.
Then directly after New Again, Tell the Vision plays. This weird, distorted, and censored cut from late rapper Pop Smoke’s album, Faith, sounds like it doesn’t belong on the album, and chances are, it doesn’t. Most are speculating that West did this as a sort of memorial for Pop Smoke, and that way his family can make revenue from Donda sales and streams.
After a few more tracks, listeners will see that songs that have already played are playing again, although now with a “pt 2” after them. These songs seem to be an alternate version of the original tracks, just with different features.
After giving Donda many listens and listening to Kanye West’s other albums numerous times, I believe that Donda is what West intended on Jesus is King actually becoming. While Donda certainly highlights themes of religion, it’s not the sole focus unlike how it was in Jesus is King. I feel as though Donda is a very long album and I would like for it to be a bit shorter and more concise, as I feel like some songs weren’t necessary to the album, and some ran on for an unnecessary amount of time. But, this doesn’t take away too much from the appeal of Donda, for me personally. I believe that West did a great job of tying multiple themes and styles together into one album, and it seems to get better each listen.

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