Rhys Pearson holding DONDA Album at his in-home hair salon

Released: August 29, 2021
Genre: Hip-Hop/Gospel Trap
Run Time: 1 hour 48 minutes

By Rhys Pearson

As a person I don’t care too much for Kanye West, however I cannot deny his prowess as a producer and rapper, becoming one of the most innovative and progressive artists of the 2000s. The DONDA record was held back with multiple release dates cancelled as well as three big stadium listening parties, each listening party showcasing new edits and songs that all eventually made it onto the record. The photo uses the July 2020 cover, the first initial cover for the album, which is visually more pleasing than the plain black one.

Where does DONDA leave us? It took me a handful of listens to really understand and appreciate where Kanye was heading, this album possesses more gospel themes in production and lyrics than 2019’s “Jesus is King” record. DONDA becomes drowned in heavy bass, loud drums but appropriately sprinkled with gorgeous organs, with some records having soulful and peaceful vocals to beautifully contrast with the dark instrumentals.

With vocal features including The Weeknd, Vory, Don Toliver and of course the gospel elements wouldn’t be complete without his Sunday Service Choir. However, the entire record is chock-full with features including Jay-Z, Lil Durk, and a fantastic verse from Lil Yachty. In saying that though, a lot of the tracks leave more to be desired from West. Majority of the songs feel like they are made purely for the featured artist to shine, whilst Kanye pitches in as a last-ditch effort. Though I said in the introduction I wasn’t the biggest fan of Kanye as a rapper/singer, I can confidently say his singing vocals have been the best they have ever been.

DONDA isn’t without flaws though, with all the glorious and cinematic instrumentals, there are times where songs fall short. Whether it’s the shocking chorus on Remote Control or having his verse or other features not fitting certain songs. The run time is also an aspect that demerits the enjoyment of the record, with nearly two hours long, it is the equivalent of a Marvel movie, but arguably more enjoyable. Is it my favourite Kanye West project? Definitely not, but I will for sure revisit this album to chant “I KNOW GOD BREATHED ON THIS”.

Score: Strong 7


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