Kanye West’s ‘DONDA’ is finally here


Photo courtesy of @kimkardashian on Instagram

Photo of a church at West’s ‘DONDA’ preview party.

On Aug. 29, 2021, Kanye West’s highly anticipated tenth studio album, “Donda,” was finally released by Universal Music Group. The project is dedicated to the artist’s late mother, Donda West, who passed away on Nov. 10, 2007.

Donda contains 27 tracks influenced by trap, alternative R&B and gospel elements. Included are a number of features by some of the most well-known names in modern rap, such as Lil Durk, Pop Smoke, Playboi Carti, Lil Baby and Jay- Z. Although West is notorious for his unpredictable career moves and sometimes questionable behavior, this may be his most influential and innovative album yet.

Prior to the release of Donda, West held three wildly populated listening parties. Though it’s normal for musicians to have listening parties prior to the release of the album, many were confused as to why he would have three back-to-back out of concern for music being leaked.

However, by holding these events, he’s collected millions of dollars in ticket revenue. The first listening party was on July 22 at the Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta. Fans expected the project to be released the following day, yet many were disappointed when that didn’t happen. The next listening party was held on Aug. 5 in the same arena. Again, while not formally addressing his audience, Kanye proceeded to play what sounded like an updated version of his project; with features by Vic Mensa, The Weeknd, Young Thug, Kid Cudi, Chance The Rapper and more who were not previously included.

The last listening party for the album was held on Aug. 26 at Soldier Field in Chicago. He shocked this third audience by re-creating a replica of his childhood home in the center of the arena. The event started an hour late and showcased a series of surprising elements of his performance such as lighting himself on fire, having two circles of people walking clockwise and counterclockwise around his childhood home and inviting estranged wife Kim Kardashian West to recreate their wedding.

As creative as this party was, the project has received a fair amount of negative feedback. I conducted an impromptu survey of 209 students, and 79% of them said that the album was a flop while 21% said it was a success. The live showings of “Donda” have been the subject of a number of criticisms such as saying the performance had a cult-like ambiance.

“God Breathed” is the third track from the album. The combination of gospel-like lyrics with the trap production creates a wonderful musical cocktail. “Hurricane” contains features by The Weeknd and Lil Baby. The Weeknd offers soulful silk-like vocals while Kanye and Lil Baby spit about struggles they’ve had to overcome in their personal life and music career. “Jonah” may hit home for those who have lost a loved one. Featured artists Vory and Lil Durk both get sentimental about their experiences. Vory’s verse discusses his past involvement in street life. Yet, now he is able to provide for himself without any criminal activity.

Lil Durk shares many tear-jerking stanzas as he discusses the passing of his best friend King Von. West delivers an impactful verse conveying his frustration and eagerness to end the gang violence taking place in the city of Chicago.

Overall, Kanye West remains to be a topic of discussion in the music industry and further proves the point that if he’s being talked about, he’s doing something right.