Named after his late mother, this one-hour and 48 minute long album has tracks whose themes cover Kanye’s marital problems, his political endeavours, and even samples from Donda West herself.
Originally slated for release in the summer of 2020, “Donda” — in usual Kanye fashion — has had around five separate release dates, only increasing the anticipation for what some were expecting to be his magnum opus. However, the album has created a divide.
As any Kanye fan would expect, the album has already endured its fair share of controversy. The 24th track on the album, “Jail pt. 2,” featuring rapper DaBaby and Marilyn Manson, was initially not released by UMG with the rest of the project because of its controversial artist collaborations. Considering DaBaby’s recent “anti-gay” comments and current abuse allegations against Marilyn Manson, West has made it obvious that he is, now especially, not concerned with being politically correct.
In addition, almost every track from “Jesus Lord’’ to “Ok Ok” has some contentious debate attached to it, most notably, his aggressive declaration of faith. Kanye’s original fan base from the early 2000s sees his new religious persona as fake and corny, whereas his relatively new Christian following views the album as not religious enough and irreverent. And still other fans couldn’t care less what Kanye is saying as long as the beat is good.
Some of the most popular tracks from “Donda” include “Hurricane” featuring The Weeknd, “Jail” featuring Jay‑Z, a longtime friend of West’s, and “No Child Left Behind” which includes background vocals from the Sunday Service Choir.
Along with famous artist features, “Donda” showcases Kanye’s talent for sampling. He masterfully samples a classic R&B beat into “Believe What I Say,” giving it one of the best grooves in the whole project. However, he uses “The Globglogabgalab” — a cartoon song made popular by a 2018 meme — at the end of “Remote Control” for no good reason.
Setting aside any presuppositions from the drama surrounding it, the quality of “Donda” is debatable. To the die-hard Kanye fan, “Donda” has enough good tracks. ”Moon,” “Jail,” and “Heaven and Hell” deem it defensible. But an honest listener will recognize that the ratio of good to bad songs is evenly split, making it an average album by most standards.
It makes sense that not every song would be a certified bop considering there are 27, but it has to be asked why so many people, including myself, are willing to defend it.
The answer is simple: it’s Kanye. Half of Kanye’s career at this point depends on the undying loyalty of his fans, and, to be frank, that is a pretty solid bet on his part.
Even after a closer inspection of his recent album, most loyal fans would defend it, and if asked why, would likely respond with “because it’s Kanye.” It sounds awful, but that’s the hold Kanye has on a fair portion of this generation. And to longtime listeners, Kanye has more than earned that place.
In conclusion, Kanye got what Kanye wanted out of this album: he made a scene.