“Donda”: Masterpiece or Overstuffed Song Dump?

Miles Clark, Staff Writer

In my eyes, Kanye West is the greatest hip-hop artist to ever live. If I made a list of my top 100 favorite songs of all time, 50 of them would be Kanye West songs. Despite my obvious favoritism towards Kanye West, his latest album “Donda” was not his best. Don’t get me wrong: it is not a bad album, just not as amazing as everyone hoped.

Leading up to the release of “Donda,” there was an unprecedented amount of hype. The original release date was July 26, 2021, set during his listening party/concert for the album at Mercedes Benz Stadium in Atlanta. To the world’s surprise, the album didn’t release that night. Now this isn’t the first time Kanye has passed his original release date, but with all the hype surrounding this album, nobody really expected it to happen again. Oddly enough, it was rumored (and then confirmed) that Kanye was living in Mercedes Benz Stadium and finishing his album in isolation below the stadium. Kanye had another listening party, also at Mercedes Benz, weeks later on August 9th, and people expected the album to be released then, but, once again, the album was not put out. Finally, on August 29th, after another listening party on Soldier Field in Chicago, “Donda” was released.

Donda released at 12:00 on August 29th with 27 songs. The album opens up in a really weird way with the track titled “Donda Chant.” “Donda Chant” is literally just a minute of this lady saying the name “Donda.” What I later learned was that every time Donda was said in that song, it was mimicking Kanye’s mother’s final heartbeats. Although it isn’t really a song, it is a very meaningful and fitting start to the album.

Now don’t get me wrong, this is still a good album, but there are a couple of songs I really don’t like. One song specifically would be “Tell the Vision.” This song includes a feature from the late Pop Smoke. This song came out as a single before the release of “Donda,” and it was not meant to be in an album. This song doesn’t fit the tone or message of the album, and was only put on the album because of Pop Smoke’s feature. Another song I’m not very high on is “Junya.” Out of all of the songs on this album, I’ve listened to this song the least. I don’t really like the rhythm of this song, and it doesn’t really fit well with the rest of the songs on the album. Those two songs are probably the only two that I really don’t like, but there are a few others that are just super mediocre.

There are a couple of really good songs on this album though, including “Jail pt. 2,” “Off the Grid,” “Believe What I Say,” “Moon,” “Heaven and Hell,” “Keep My Spirit Alive,” “New Again,” and “No Child Left Behind.” I know that sounds like a lot of great songs for an album that I described as “not as amazing as everyone hoped,” but compared to the hype it received, we expected even more. Despite not living up to the hype, these are all perfect songs in my eyes. “Believe What I Say” is a super upbeat and chill song that is perfect for putting yourself in a better mood. “Heaven and Hell” is a more serious, yet awe-inspiring song that is perfect to hype yourself up. The same goes for “No Child Left Behind”. “Keep My Spirit Alive” is hard to describe in one word, but it would be a really good song to listen to when doing lowkey stuff like homework or playing video games. The best song on this album in my opinion is “Jail pt 2”. It features Dababy in a way that I’ve never heard him before. Instead of trying to make some hype song that will be on TikTok for the next month, he actually had a super great feature that describes his upbringing, and it fits very well with the story of the song. Of course, Kanye’s chorus in this song is great as well.

Although it doesn’t quite compare to previous Kanye albums like “Yeezus,” “Graduation,” or “My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy,” “Donda” is a really good album. At the end of the day, Kanye West is a true legend, but even legends aren’t perfect.