After three Apple Music live listening events, 401 days, and thousands of angry fans, Donda, Kanye West’s tenth studio album, has been officially released to the public.
Apple Music held three listening events: the first and second were in Atlanta, Georgia, at the Mercedes-Benz Stadium, and the final one was in Chicago, Illinois. Each listening event was practically a concert. Tickets were sold for the listening events even when Donda wasn’t finished. I watched the first listening event alone in a dark room. I spent two hours just waiting for the show to start, then, it was two hours of West pacing the stadium’s floor.
As the album started to see some finishing touches and more listening events were scheduled, West’s performance skills somewhat improved, and so did the album. As a self-proclaimed Kanye West fan, I was excited, to say the least, to hear his new project and all of the new ideas he and his team have implemented.
I wasted a full four hours of my life disappointed by an album that I thought would hold the songs of the summer. However, after the delays, drama, and listening events, West executed an album better than what was heard at the listening events.
West has a history of not releasing albums on their initial release date. For instance, Late Registration was 49 days late, The College Dropout was 89, The Life of Pablo was 531, and Yandhi & Turbo Grafx was never released.
Donda was named in memory of West’s mom, Donda West. Donda meant a lot to West, and he considers her to be one of his biggest influences. With hints and lyrics here and there referring to his mom, the album is mainly based around Christianity.
To kick off a tribute to his mom, “Donda Chant” is simply a woman chanting “Donda” 58 times. It’s a boring song with no music or anything, but the symbolic meaning behind “Donda” 58 times goes far deeper than the surface layer. The 58 times represents the age Donda West was when she died and the rhythm in which “Donda” is repeated simulates her last heartbeats before her passing.
“Jail” was the best song on Donda. Its dark beat complimented the mysterious lyrics such as “Single life ain’t that bad,” and “You’re not in control of my thoughts.” What’s mysterious about these lyrics are not what they are, but who they’re speculated to be about–Kim Kardashian, West’s ex-wife. In “Jail,” there were references to “On Sight” from Yeezus and “Hell of a Life” from My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy. “On Sight” is a reference to an action West calls “an instinct,” and “Hell of a Life” is all about how he fell in love with a model and dramatically broke up. “Jail” was West’s way of communicating about his messy breakup since he hasn’t spoken too much on the topic.
“Off The Grid”
In reference to his ranch house in Wyoming, West is staying off the grid for his kids, North, Psalm, Chicago, and Saint West. In “Off The Grid,” he sings about how he’s trying to clean up his act for his kids, and for when his kids have kids. On a different note, he thanks God for saving him from the trenches and giving West the life he has now. As far as music goes, West has kept up with some great beats that continually play in my head.
In honor of Kobe Bryant, West wrote the song “24.” This was a plea to God to make everything better after the heartbreak family members and fans of Bryant endured after his tragic death on January 26, 2020. “24 hours, 24 candles” are all in reference to Bryant’s basketball jersey number, 24. Though the deeper meaning was powerful and thoughtful, the music in itself sounded like it belongs in a low-budget video game.
“Moon” was short, sweet, and simple. Its angelic autotune and dark music complimented the few words that were sung. “Don’t leave so soon,” was one lyric that was directed to the one and only, Donda West. Donda meant a lot to West, and this was another way of letting the fans know that even after 14 years, one can still grieve about the inevitable.
“Tell The Vision”
This is a song that seriously doesn’t fit in with the tone of the album. The whole song consisted of Pop Smoke rapping “We made it.” West wasn’t included, nor was any creative aspect or a strong deeper meaning. It was boring and hard to understand unlike “Moon.”
The beginning of the song featuring Playboi Carti was repetitive. Playboi Carti doesn’t impress me, and his feature on Donda doesn’t change anything. After hearing “Junya Watanabe on my wri’” an ungodly amount of times, there was a part of the song that referred to the tension West created at the 2009 VMAs between himself and Taylor Swift: “Move out the way of my release” / “Why can’t losers lose in peace?” The original release date for Donda was going to be July 24, 2020. Coincidentally, Swift’s album, Folklore, released July 24, 2020.
“Jesus Lord” and “Jesus Lord pt 2” are the perfect wrap-up songs for Donda. The beginning of the song gives off scary vibes and can be obnoxious, but it was the perfect contrary statement to society and black youth violence—an increasingly terrible problem today. And, of course, Kanye mentioned how his mom was the life of the party, and now, the party is not the same without her.
After listening to Donda, I adore the many contributions to loved ones which are tied together strongly with Chrisitan references. Once again, Kanye has blown me away with another outstanding project. Now, the next agonizing wait begins.