“Donda” is Kanye West’s most ambitious record in years

The album, released on August 29, is a tribute to his mother and his faith.

Samuel Colmar

The albums simple cover–a black square.

Kanye West’s “Donda,” his tenth and newest album, is an expansive tribute to his late mother that is filled to the brim with new ideas, experimentation, and Christian themes.

The record has a plethora of features, with artists such as Playboi Carti, The Weeknd, Jay-Z, Shenseea, Kid Cudi, Jay Electronica, Westside Gunn, and Fivio Foreign shining as some of the best.

Kanye embraces his spirituality to the fullest on “Donda,” exclaiming his love for God or mentioning some aspect of his Christianity on just about every song–even to the nonreligious, Kanye’s complete devotion to his faith is inspiring. 

Aside from the first track, “Donda Chant,” which is pretty much an interlude, the album starts off strong with three consecutive bangers: “Jail,” “God Breathed,” and “Off the Grid.”

“Moon,” featuring Don Toliver and Kid Cudi, is one of the more ethereal tracks on the project; Toliver’s pitched vocals, along with Cudi’s somber, deep voice makes for a fantastic listening experience. The song is tied perfectly together with Kanye’s backing vocals and a harmonizing electric guitar.

“Come to Life,” one of the last tracks on the latter half of the album, is absolutely stunning with synths, piano, and melodic singing by Kanye. Additionally, Kanye’s compelling lyricism makes the song one of the most memorable on Donda.

While the album has incredible highs, its shortcomings cannot be ignored.

“Tell the Vision,” a tribute to the late rapper Pop Smoke, is maybe the most forgettable track on the album; it’s poorly mixed vocals and lack of substance make it one of a few songs that feel skippable on the record. 

The album’s enormous length–totalling at 27 songs and a whopping runtime of 1 hour and 49 minutes–ultimately serves as another one of it’s few faults. The overall cohesion of the record is jeopardized as a handful of tracks feel unfinished and multiple songs have second parts to them.

Despite this, however, many Kanye fans see “Donda” as a huge improvement to West’s last album, “Jesus Is King”—a record that, as the title suggests, is a testimony to Kanye’s faith. 

“Jesus Is King”, released in October of 2019, was relatively short, running at a length of 27 minutes long. While there were a few standout tracks on the project like “Follow God” and “Use This Gospel,” for the most part, “Jesus Is King”consisted of a handful of fairly mediocre, forgettable tracks that feel unimportant in the context of Kanye’s discography. 

Like “Jesus Is King,” “Donda” is entirely non-explicit, a fact that has little impact on the record–in fact, this may actually serve as a pleasant surprise to some fans who oftentimes resort to the “clean” versions of his albums. 

Kanye is expected to continue updating the tracks on “Donda” within the coming months, taking advantage of the accessibility and impermanence that the current age of music streaming services provide. He began this trend with the release of his 2016 LP “The Life of Pablo,” a record that has received many major changes since its initial release.