Kanye West drops long-awaited “Donda” album

West’s magnum opus is filled with some of his highest highs and mediocre lows.

Chris Charpentier, Staff Writer

The “Donda” album released Sunday at 5 a.m. on Aug. 29 — marking a surreal moment for Kanye’s listeners. The lead-up itself was anything but ordinary, from three unique listening parties that stirred drama, to multiple release date announcements featuring different album covers. With no reliable communication from West himself, it was reasonable to believe that “Donda” would not come out for a long time, if at all.

BRIDGING THE GAP BETWEEN CHRISTIAN AND SECULAR

One of the most fascinating aspects of “Donda” is the collaboration, which lacked on his previous album, “Jesus Is King.” Guest artists ranged from established legends like Jay-Z and The Weeknd to newcomers like Vory and KayCyy, making each song feel fresh. 

Hurricane” is an instant hit, with The Weeknd’s unique vocal tone singing the highly-teased chorus. Both The Weeknd and Lil Baby find themselves establishing the song’s overall theme of rising above the ashes as a result of God’s power. This speaks to West’s ability to gather secular artists who speak into Christian themes through their life experiences.

From West’s personal trauma to a voicemail outro from a man named Larry Hoover Jr. detailing his experience of having an incarcerated father, “Jesus Lord” acts as the true emotional core of the album. Above all, it is a musical statement of West’s intentions to deal with obstacles within his life in a Christ-like manner. Like many of the other truly breathtaking tracks on the album such as “Believe What I Say” and “No Child Left Behind,” he showcases a progression from the ignorant, almost child-like Christian he embodied on “Jesus Is King” to a matured spirit who has faced severe hardships, specifically the death of his mother.

This potent emotion reaches its peak at “Moon.” Simply put, it is one of the most beautiful songs West has ever written. The musical trio of Don Toliver, Kid Cudi and Kanye West crooning over a spacious guitar melody is a rare moment of listener to artist connection. The simple lyricism centered around fading memories and the bittersweet feeling of trying to hold onto them as long as possible is something that will undoubtedly resonate with anyone who has lost a loved one.

1 HOUR 49 MINUTES

As much as the album’s high points make “Donda” a worthy entry within West’s discography, the almost 2 hour runtime makes it excruciatingly hard to relisten to. Many of West’s classic albums like “The College Dropout” and “My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy” are important cultural touchstones because of their brevity and repeatability. On “Donda” however, there is a good chunk of songs that can easily be taken out in order to prioritize the concision of the album’s main themes.

Jail, Pt. 2,” while not a part of the main tracklist, stands as an uncomfortable remix of one of the album’s first tracks, where an added verse by controversial artist DaBaby finds him defending the homophobic remarks he made at Rolling Loud back in late July. Amid this continuing controversy, it is sad to see West, a newfound Christian, give him a platform in which he can remain ignorant to the harm his remarks caused.

FLAWED EPIC

No matter what criticisms are thrown toward Kanye, especially as of recent, there is no denying the prowess and genius that his creativity produces. Even though “Donda” has flaws that are hard to overlook, it is also West’s best project since “The Life of Pablo.” Both albums have West dealing with the balance of hardships in life and the beautiful moments that can come after them. However, in “Donda,” it seems like West is getting closer to overcoming those hardships, which is an achievement in its own right.

While “Donda” might end up being divisive among pop culture at large for years to come, it is a worthwhile listen regardless.

 

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