Kanye West Donda Review

After a disappointing 2019 project “Jesus is King,” three public listening parties, and months of speculation, Chicago rapper, producer, singer, songwriter, fashion designer and 2020 presidential candidate Kanye West dropped his thirteenth studio album “Donda.”  

It is also important to note that since his last project Kanye has since separated from Kim Kardashian and has refueled his feud with Toronto rapper Drake. He leaked his address on social media and Drake responded by dissing Kanye on a verse which was featured on the song “Betrayal” off of Ohio Rapper Trippie Redd’s new project “Trip at Knight.”

The album begins with the 53 second intro track “Donda chant,” the track without context sounds like a women repeating the word Donda for an entire track, but the track holds a deeper meaning in that the chant is performed by Syleena Johnson who was the feature on Kanye’s first No. 1 hit “All falls down” of his 2004 debut album “The College Dropout.” The cadence of the track is also the same as his mother (Donda West) heartbeat when she was in the hospital. 

The next track “Jail” is another flash to the past for Kanye as the song features well known Brooklyn Rapper Jay-Z. Jay-Z delivers an excellent verse over a well produced rock-style beat with a notable lyric “this might be the return of the throne” referencing him and Kanye’s 2011 collaborative project “Watch the Throne.” The feature and the line seem to say that Kanye and Jay-Z are no longer feuding and have reunited to take back the throne of the rap game.

  “Off the grid” is one of two songs featuring artist Playboi Carti. The song also features an over two minute verse from up and coming rapper Fivio Foreign. Carti and Kanye show excellent chemistry alternating lines over a traditional “drill” beat which is a common rap style in the United Kingdom. Foreign then delivers probably his best ever verse which keeps the momentum that Kanye and Carti developed on the first part of the track.

The next highlight is the track “Hurricane” featuring singer and R&B artist The Weeknd as well as rapper Lil Baby. The Weeknd delivers a vocal masterpiece singing about finding God and being free. Lil Baby delivers a solid verse keeping with similar themes as The Weeknd. Kanye then delivers his verse rapping about how his life has gone downhill over the last few years. 

The track “Believe what I say” features a sample beat from Lauren Hills 1998 hit track “That Thing,” The sample adds an appealing layer and makes the chill club song one of the best on the album. 

The song “Moon” has vocal features from rappers Don toliver and long time collaborator and friend Kid Cudi The song is heavenly in its delivery and makes the listener feel as if they are leaving Earth. You can tell that one of the things Kanye has been working on since his last album is his singing as in the songs “24” and “Come to life.” His vocals are very strong and even have listeners asking themselves if they are really listening to Kanye, who has been known throughout most of his career as a mediocre singer at best. 

Overall “Donda” is a return to Kanye’s normal excellence but not without a few flaws, the 27 song tracklist is much too long and makes the album feel bloated at times. Another thing that’s seen as a negative to some is the role the features play. “Donda” has features from over 30 artists and some see it as more of a collaborative project than a Kanye project. 

Some of the positives of “Donda” is the production. All of the beats and mixes are clear and the album sounds very appealing to the ear. Another positive is the diversity in tracks. This album truly has something for everyone as the album features many different styles including traditional rap, trap, drill, melodic, psychedelic and even rock. 

I give this album an 8 out of 10. My favorite tracks are “Jail,” “Off the Grid,” “Hurricane,” “Believe What I Say,” “Moon,” “Jesus Lord,” “Pure Souls,” and “Come to Life.”