Donda drops

Kanye West finally releases his newest album


Photo courtesy Kanye West

This was the original album cover for Donda, resembling a woman, most likely his late mom. The cover was scrapped to a black square. The album is very secretive, as he does not include who is featured on the album.

Logan Moseley, Striv Co-Executive Producer, Business Manager


It’s been a while since we’ve seen Kanye West in the music scene, as he has been working on his latest album for quite some time. Donda, named after his mother who passed away in November 2007, has been hyped up for a while being delayed multiple times, and even was dropped earlier than expected, as it was supposed to come out the same day as Drake’s album, Certified Lover Boy.

The first thing before you even listen to the album is you can see it is loaded with a lot of features. Rappers like Jay-Z, DaBaby, Travis Scott and Playboi Carti all found their way on the project, and Pop Smoke, who died in February 2020, had a prerecorded feature that West found a way to use. 

The first track is “Donda Chant”, which is 51 seconds of a high, female-like tone saying “Donda” over and over again. To me this really feels like one of the lone songs that you can skip, but the rest I quickly fell in love with (there are a few songs that have a part two, which is a different version with another artist on the track). 

The first real song is “Jail” which instantly transports the listener into a concert-like feel that maintains for the rest of the album. West is able to do something that I feel like is never talked about enough in this album, and that is find a fine line between a song with a great feature on it and one that is tied together by all artists. This also ties into the next eight tracks, creating a seamless blend of Ye, another artist on there, and the music playing in the background. These songs all are great at engaging the audience, and some of them even make people get excited to see who appears on what track. “Hurricane” is one of those songs with The Weeknd and Lil Baby all featured and having a lasting impact. “Praise God” is also a song that embodies all of the great qualities in this album. It has a great blend of features like Travis Scott and Baby Keem, and at some points not even knowing whose singing. The overall instrumentals to it also are pleasant to the ears and have memorable lines like, “I opened my life, Im subject to memes”.

The album is 27 tracks long, so it does take a chunk of time out of your day, especially when multiple songs are near or over the five minute mark. 

One of my favorites, “Off the Grid,” is one of those songs to exceed the mark. It is very aggressive and shows what Kanye is trying to do with this album. It does seem like he is trying to make this a concert, which he executed to perfection. The effects used in the studio added to this with high intensity songs, a choir, and how during the first few songs his voice was distorted a bit to make it sound like he was holding a microphone.  It also gives off a vibe of something you would see off of a Pop Smoke song, leading me to believe he was supposed to be in this song before his untimely death. 

There is a point where the quality of the songs drops off but they are also great songs but don’t live up to the ones that they are following. I feel as if this starts off with “24.” I will give the song credit for showing more of a personal side of West that we rarely see. The church organ in the background makes it seem like he is confessing his sins from past actions. 

The longest song on the track is “Jesus Lord pt 2” at 11:30 in length. The other songs that include a “pt 2” are “Jail,” “Ok Ok” and “Junya”, so in a technical sense this is only a 23 song album, but still many of the songs go around the four minute mark, and the total run time is 108:59, so set time aside if you want to listen to it in its entirety.

There was some controversy from this album for some reasons that were a bit obvious, and others that make you laugh. The ones that were serious were how Chris Brown was on “New Again” even after the allegations of him beating his girlfriends in the past. “Jail pt 2”includes Dababy, who has made homophobic remarks on stage at a concert, and Marilyn Manson, who has also had allegations of rape and abuse. These were not received well by some, and it led to one of Manson’s accusers giving Manson the bird while he was on stage. 

The more lighthearted controversies was how long the album took, and also how he had done some crazy stunts while having his listening parties at both Mercedes Benz Stadium in Atlanta, Georgia and Soldier Field in Chicago, Illinois. Those stunts included taking wires and raising himself to the top of Mercedes Benz Stadium (which has an eye like top that can dilate), lighting himself on fire, fake remarrying his ex, Kim Kardashian-West, and rebuilding a fully functioning version of his childhood home at the 50 yard line.

I found the album had lived up to the insane expectations it had. The songs blended well together, the features were exceptional and West was able to make an album that gave the feel that you were live at the concert. While this was very condensed, as there is a lot in and out of the album, I found that this project is what the modern rap, hip-hop and R&B genres are right now. It was also interesting to see how it was the only album released as of September 1, 2021 and it is only a clean version out. I’d give this a 4/5, as it is not perfect. I feel like the hype is a reason behind it, and the length made it seem like it was never going to end. We are seeing a new version of Kanye West, and I am looking forward to it.