Kanye West's newly-released album "Donda" has been anticipated for over a year despite its delay. Although I am a music major who primarily studies and listens to jazz, I see the beauty in all genres. So when I heard that "Donda" by Kanye West was going to be released on Aug. 29, I knew I had to listen to this highly-anticipated album. Unfortunately, I know little about Kanye West's music other than the common opinion that his older music was much better. Still, regardless of my lack of knowledge of his style, I enjoyed this experience and am excited to share my observations with you! So without further ado, here is my review of "Donda," told entirely from the perspective of a person who has not listened to much of Kanye's previous music.
"Donda," at least in my eyes, is a mixed bag with many ups and downs, which may be disappointing to the fans who have waited so long for this album release. I will begin with the positives of the album. There are a few songs that I really enjoyed, from the minimalist and religious "God Breathed" to the more generic approach on "Hurricane," along with others like "Jail" (parts one and two), "Off The Grid," "Junya," and "Lord I Need You." These songs made me feel different emotions, and I got lost in the various sounds I was exposed to. It honestly felt like a spiritual journey since this was so new to me. I found myself in anticipation of what was going to happen next while listening.
While there is a lot of good in this album, it is by no means perfect, just like every album, and has a lot of questionable moments. For me, the most confusing part of this album was the "Donda Chant" intro track, which was just Kanye West's late mother, Donda West, who was the namesake of the album, repeatedly saying "Donda." I understand the significance of it being Donda herself introducing the album, but with all due respect to her passing, it was just a questionable way to introduce the album. Based on what I have seen online, a lot of other people feel the same way. My biggest problem with this album is not that it is necessarily bad, but that it's just too mediocre. There are more songs that are just "okay" rather than being unique and enjoyable, with little replay value for all but a few tracks. It honestly feels more like filler than anything, and there is just too much of it. There are a total of 27 tracks on this album, and that is just way too many. This excessive bloat was so severe that it became genuinely difficult for me to keep listening to this album following "Believe What I Say," and I could imagine many others would agree with me. Still, I pushed on to finish this review, and in general, I think it was worth it.
After everything I have covered, I am happy to give this album a seven out of ten. Although I found much of "Donda" to be average, I think it has some hidden gems that could be considered classics years from now. I am certain Kanye West sees this album as a great tribute to his mother, and because of that, I have nothing but respect for his creative vision. Most importantly, like any art form or musical genre, what makes this album good or bad is entirely up to one's own interpretation and not just mine. I am simply a music major who has never been in-depth in the large, expansive, ever-changing world of hip-hop, so do not take my review as fact. Instead, listen to the album yourself and see what you think.
All in all, I enjoyed this experience, and although I did not think it was that great, I was very intrigued and engaged through it, and I might have to look into more hip-hop albums in the future. Perhaps this type of album review will be the first of many, and I will be on the lookout for new or recently-released albums from other significant rappers and pop musicians. As I explore the vast world of contemporary pop music, I am excited to share my future observations with you all.