Reflector Reviews: “Donda” by Kanye West

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After multiple listenings and weeks of waiting, Kanye West’s 10th studio album, Donda is finally here. The inspiration behind the album is his late mother, who died of coronary heart disease in 2007. The album includes 27 tracks, with over 10 features from other rappers, making the playing time almost two hours. , which is a long length of time for any album.

Donda comes after West’s ninth album and debut gospel project, Jesus is king, an album that was considered a dud by many critics and artists in the rap community, even though it was not even a rap album at all. While Jesus is king was a true gospel, Donda incorporates more genres that Kanye fans are used to, like rap and R&B. West’s latest album seems to mix the sound of a few of his previous works. It has these wonderfully sinister rhythms under gospel lyrics. Donda is Yeezus meets you meets Jesus is king.

Listening to Donda, the lyrics to many tracks, such as “No Child Left Behind” sound angelic and are filled with faith. Meanwhile, the rhythms and chord progressions have heavy hard rock and rap notes. What looks like a recipe for disaster actually mixed up quite easily. Hard drums and heavy guitar sounds pair well with vocals from West, The Weeknd, Kid Cudi and more.

The first track on the album is “Donda Chant,” which is the word “Donda” recited over and over again, apparently in West’s mother’s last heartbeat before her death. The vocals set the tone for the album; as any loyal Kanye fan knows how much the Chicago artist loved and appreciated his mother.

Once Donda Chant’s intro is finished, the album takes on a “Jail” twist. On this track, West is accompanied by none other than New Yorker Jay-Z. This collaboration was long overdue, as the couple’s history goes way back, with their critically acclaimed creation of Look at the throne. “Jail” didn’t disappoint, because that’s all a Jay-Z and Kanye West collaboration should be. It’s funny. The lyrics are catchy. The album couldn’t have a better first song, respectfully.

The blows don’t stop there. It just starts there. The dark tones of the album continue – and boy, it holds. “Hurricane” with The Weeknd sounds so moving and adds to the epitome of the album’s gospel. “Moon” with Kid Cudi, completed by backing vocals from Don Toliver, is very reminiscent of Children see ghosts, West and Kid Cudi’s collaborative album.

While several tracks on the album are outstanding, the length of the album becomes redundant, as there are two to multiple song parts of the album, “Jail”, “Ok Ok”, “Junya” and “Jesus Lord “. These additional tracks take away from the production quality of Donda. Although the album has 27 songs, these two parts make the album feel unfinished and feels like an indecisive move on West’s part.

While the production itself is fantastic, it’s the management decisions and the original marketing tactics that take away some of the album’s beauty and superiority. What (at first) seems to be destined for greatness, fails as the album continues.

Overall, the album is a solid addition to West’s discography. It is below My beautiful twisted dark fantasy, but rather seems to fall into place somewhere in between Yeezus and Jesus is king.

Overall I would give it a 7/10. It’s definitely an album I’m going to include in my listening rotation for now (along with Drake’s Boy in love certified and Kacey Musgraves damn – album reviews coming soon).


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