Album review: donda
Review by: Sean Spiedel
Artist: Kanye West
Easily the most anticipated album of the year, Kanye West’s Donda did not disappoint.
West was first rumored to release Donda, named after West’s late mother, following a live listening party in Atlanta on June 22; however, West left his fans disappointed and delayed the album release. West then hosted another release party in Atlanta on August fifth, advertising that the album would drop on the sixth. His fans were again left wondering if the album would ever drop. West then moved to Soldier Field in Chicago for another listening party on Thursday the 26th. By this time, fans had essentially given up and did not expect the album to drop. They were correct: on Friday morning, the album still was not available on streaming services. West then surprised all by releasing the album Sunday the 29th and it was definitely worth the wait.
West somewhat abandoned his usual producing method of chipmunk soul, a producing style where the author takes an old soul sample, loops it and pitches it up, hence the name chipmunk. He instead went with more 808s (drum like beats), much like his 2008 album 808s and Heartbreak. West did, however, include some samples, most famous: a sample from Ms. Lauryn Hill’s 1998 hit “Doo Wop” on the song “Believe what I say”.
With this album, West continues to almost have his own unique genre of music. No other modern artist creates music quite like he does. West somehow combines Hip-hop, Rap, R&B, and Worship music into Donda. Featuring The Weeknd and Lil Baby, the song “Hurricane” truly encapsulates the combination of these four genres. The Weeknd’s lines flawlessly combine the R&B and Worship genres and the song seamlessly transitions to Hip-hop verses with West and Lil Baby which makes “Hurricane” a truly unique song that only Kanye West could pull off.
This album wasn’t the typical rap album that many people expected, but I think that makes it so much better. West really tells a story with his songs “Jesus Lord” and “Jesus Lord pt 2.” Combined, they are 20 minutes and 30 seconds of masterful storytelling and insight into West’s inner struggle that we have only seen snippets of before. The lyric “cause if that come to life, then I might not be right here, Been in the dark so long, don’t know if the light here” shows West’s use of metaphors to really make his lyrics come to life and show his brokenness in a way that we truly have not yet seen in this much detail. West wrote this album in a way that the lyrics truly resonate with the listener unlike anything else I’ve heard.
Ultimately, Donda has been a massive success, but Kanye would never leave his fans fully satisfied. The version of Donda that released Sunday morning is only the clean version, so listeners will have to wait even longer for the full experience, which, knowing Kanye, could take a while.