After well over a year after its announcement and countless album cover variations (I liked the second one, not gonna lie), Kanye West's tenth solo studio album, DONDA, is finally here...or is it? Just a few moments ago, as I was literally halfway through listening to this album, West took to Instagram to post this:
As of 2:00 pm PST on Sunday, August 29th, the album remains on streaming services as well as "Jail pt 2." Let me also take a second here to state that I do not support the addition of DaBaby or Marilyn Manson on this album. I understand why Kanye did it, but I personally can't get on board with it.
Three completely different listening events have happened this summer with the anticipation of the album drop immediately after, but after fooling us twice it looked like the third time was the charm. Though seemingly against West's wishes, his entire fan base is finally eating and eating well. With an ample 27 tracks, this is his longest project to date, but sometimes more doesn't always mean it's better.
Some songs start to get lost and forgotten after a while, especially toward the end, but there are standout moments on that bring you back in. Some of these moments include a much-needed verse from Jay-Z on "Jail" ("This might be the return of The Throne"), a great sample stylization of Ms. Lauryn Hill's "Doo Wop (That Thing)" ("Believe What I Say"), West's utilization of 2020/2021 breakouts Baby Keem, Don Toliver, Lil Baby, and it's not a complete Kanye project without a little bit of Kid Cudi ("Moon"). I would also be remiss if I didn't give a special nod to Jay Electronica's verse on "Jesus Lord." He absolutely crushed it and may have the best guest verse on the entire album.
DONDA is a decent album, but is it a Top 5 Kanye record? No, and it's not even close. At this very moment, I'd rank it ninth in his entire discography. I think we were all rooting for it, especially with an absolutely stacked features list, but at times it feels rushed and very obviously put together at the last minute. Some tracks definitely rave replayability, but it's giving off more compilation vibes than a complete album. I think part of it has to do with the multiple listening parties that were held, so we already kind of knew what to expect and there was no longer a surprise factor (except for maybe "Jesus Lord pt 2").
At the end of the day, this was an album created in honor of his late mother, Dr. Donda West, and I feel as if she'd be very proud of what he's done here, especially with the omission of all profanity. After reading her memoir, Raising Kanye, she's always been his number one supporter and I'm certain she was rocking with the rest of us from above at each one of his listening parties and will be at the ones that are to come. ★★★½
Key Tracks: "Jail" / "Jesus Lord"
★★★★★ Classic | ★★★★ Excellent | ★★★ Good | ★★ Fair | ★ Poor
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