REVIEW: Kanye West finally releases “Donda,” and it doesn’t disappoint


Photo courtesy of Apple Music

At a Chicago listening party in August, Kanye stands inside of a house while it burns down. The event, which helped publicize his latest album “Donda,” also featured a fake wedding with ex Kim Kardashian.

Miles Johnson, Staff Writer

After four listening parties and two missed release dates, Kanye’s highly anticipated album “Donda,” named after his late mother, was released at 8 am on Sunday, August 29. The wait for this album has been very long as it was originally set to release on July 24, 2020. 

“Donda” is Kanye’s longest album with 27 songs and standing at 1 hour and 49 minutes. The average song length is around four minutes, and with an album this lengthy it’s hard to keep the listeners’ attention.

Some songs drag on for too long and take away from the overall listening experience and unless you want to sit down for two hours, it’s hard to fully process the album. 

Despite its unnecessary length, the production on this album is some of the best I have heard in a long time. Kanye took influence from the Atlanta trap sound and the New York drill sound with tracks like “Off the Grid,” “Junyah,” and “Ok Ok.” 

additionally, the album is definitely one of Kanye’s best vocal performances. His singing on tracks like “Believe What I Say” and “Come to Life” show the improvements he has made, as his voice fits like a puzzle piece into the respective songs.

His lyricism has also taken a step up as he delivers some of his best, most catchy, verses. In only the fourth song off the album, “Off the Grid,” he says one of his most memorable hooks, “I talk to God every day, that’s my bestie. They playin’ soccer in my backyard, I think I see Messi.”

The featured artists also brought their best for the album, including Playboi Carti and Fivio Foreign. The duo teamed up on “Off the Grid,” my favorite song on the album, with a bass line that made my jaw drop.

Kid Cudi and Don Tolliver came together for something magical on the song “Moon,” where Don Tolliver showed some of his unique vocal talents. Roddy Ricch on “Pure Souls” once again shows why he’s one of the best trap artists in the world with one of the best hooks on the song.

The latter half of this project uses more of a gospel sound to bring home one of the central ideas of the album, finding God. The use of the organ and Kanye’s Sunday Service choir meshes the gospel of “Jesus is King” and the rap elements of “Life of Pablo” as he perfected that sound.

Everyone has an opinion on Kanye, good or bad, and he has never been one to shy from controversy. At his last listening party on August 27 in Chicago, controversial figures DaBaby and Marylin Manson made a surprise appearance as part of the performance.

The same two are featured on the song “Jail pt 2”. I was not a fan of Kanye putting either of these two on the album, and the only reason I could get through the song was Manson singing, “Guess who’s going to jail tonight,” which was quite ironic considering his ongoing legal issues.

This album is dedicated to his late mother Dr. Donda West, who was an English professor and raised him alone. She gave Kanye the tools to become the great musician he would grow up to be. Kanye loved his mother for all she did and dedicated the song “Hey Mama” to her.

When she died in 2007 from complications after a liposuction and breast reduction surgery, Kanye was devastated. Soon after, he broke up with his long time fiance Alexis Phifer, resulting in the groundbreaking album “808’s and Heartbreaks,” where on the last track he blames himself for losing her. Kanye’s mental health and public image were never the same, especially after the Taylor Swift incident at the VMAs in 2009. Since then, Kanye says he’s found God, and he seems to finally be at some sort of peace. All of that leads to this album.

Giving any album a number rating is hard because bias, context, popularity can alter the perception of it. Though it may be held back by the lengthy songs, I’m giving this album a solid 8 out of 10. With production this amazing and a great show from the features and Kanye himself, I would encourage giving this album a listen. Although it’s a long listen, the good massively outshines the bad. I will definitely be coming back to this project, and it might even be my album of the year.