Review: Donda by Kanye West

37 days after the initial release date, Kanye West dropped his 10th studio album Donda – in what can only be described as true Kanye fashion. 

The hype surrounding not only Kanye as a person but the music he has blessed his fans with over the years, has been utterly breath-taking. Kanye announced that his new project would drop on July 24th, 2021 as a follow up to his listening event held in the Mercedes-Benz Arena, yet fans were sceptical as to whether this would actually be the case. Like many Kanye West albums, the drop date was delayed multiple times before the official project was released. The Chicago born rapper kept his fans guessing through cryptic Instagram posts and livestreams, up until the official release.

Many people will have been aware of the build-up to this album, and some would say the driving force behind that was TikTok. Like any new release over the past year, TikTok creators have used unreleased snippets of certain songs which then reach huge audiences, and in turn creates an excited atmosphere for the release. This has been especially clear for the track ‘No Child Left Behind’ which became a very popular sound for all sorts of ‘TikTokers’. 

Donda, simply put, is one of Kanye’s most ambitious projects. He has experimented far beyond anything he has ever released and has especially highlighted his production technique and skill growth. As I initially sat down to listen to the album, 24 minutes after its release, I felt like I was let down by Kanye. Perhaps the hype wasn’t worth it. However, as I began to properly listen, and really take in the story being told I found myself enjoying it more and more. The lyricism and music have been perfectly blended into overall, a very well-balanced album. The song transitions are seamless making the album feel like a story. I couldn’t help but listen to every word being told, suggesting how tight of a grip Kanye’s production has on his fans. There is also an evident split message throughout the album, with the first half taking us to his darker rap side of life compared to the latter which takes us on a gospel journey through his religion. This is a clear attempt at emulating his personality throughout his music and the way he thinks. 

To be honest, I have one word which I think can accurately sum up the feature selection. Flawless. There may have been a few verses that were underwhelming but overall, I thought that each and every artist provided a verse which diversified and strengthened the album. For me, Vory was one of the best of the best. His voice fit perfectly with the beats he was on and with Kanye’s production he sounded even better. The same could be said for a lot of artists including Fivio Foreign and Lil Yachty, to name a few. It was great to see Kanye working with Jay-Z again and hopefully we might see another project from these two. 

For me, Donda is definitely one of Kanye’s better albums. He has broken boundaries that we didn’t even know existed and stepped up his game immensely from ‘JESUS IS KING’ in 2019. Was it worth the wait? I would have definitely preferred to have had this album a bit earlier, but I understand that Kanye is a perfectionist and likes to have everything as good as it can be, and this is evident in his work. It is definitely a contender for album of the year, and I think it will cement itself as one of the standouts in his discography. 

Overall, I would give this album a 9/10

Written by Joe Bell

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