Donda: a review

A Review of Kanye West’s most anticipated Album

More stories from Tommy Hunter

Photo Courtesy of OpenClipart

Photo Courtesy of OpenClipart

Kanye West, a Chicago native, started off as a producer, helping to create songs for Ludacris, Alicia Keys, and Janet Jackson, to name a few. In 2004 he released College Dropout to critical acclaim and success. In 2009, West created the Yeezy brand, which released innovative new designs that have been praised in the clothing industry. Ever since, West has been considered one of the driving forces in the musical and streetwear industries and is reported to be the one of the richest black men in America.

Kanye is no stranger to the media, however. Whether it is his polarizing visits to TMZ offices, his Twitter rants, failed presidential campaign, religious beliefs, or meetings with former president Trump, Kanye has certainly had a very public persona. Furthermore, In 2013, Kanye married reality megastar, Kim Kardashian. They have 4 children together.

Life, however, has not always been smooth sailing for West. In 2007, for example, his mother, Donda West, a professor of English, died after a routine plastic surgery operation. In 2018, conversely, West revealed he had overcome a rough battle with opioid addiction that had begun after a liposuction operation. Even more, on February 19th, 2021 Kanye West and Kardashian, divorced after 7 years of marriage. These difficult events have had perverse effects on his newest album Donda

Donda itself has undergone huge transformations since it was first announced in mid-2020. In fact, everything from the album name, producers, and cover art has been modified by West. Nonetheless, the frequent delays, rumors of featured artists, and dramatic personal events have only supercharged fan anticipation.

One of the first major changes on Donda was it’s cover art, which has changed drastically throughout the progression of the Album. West hinted at a new album which was going to be called Jesus is King Part II, the second part of West’s 2019 album Jesus is King. The cover art was set to be a supersaturated photo of the sun and three people walking in a cloudy mountain scene; however, west soon changed the album cover to an adaptation of a Louise Bourgeois drawing from her series Les têtes bleues et les femmes rouges. Eventually, Donda was released with an album cover depicting a black square.

Donda is not a perfect album. Some argue it is too long. Others assert it is too eccentric. To be fair, it is not your typical piece of music; however, I argue that’s what makes it so special. The first track, Donda Chant, for instance, is West’s mothers name repeated 52 times. Some find it weird, or uncomfortable, but some Fans claim it illustrates a deeper story – the grief West felt after his mother’s death. 

This track shows how successful West is in mixing his identity with his emotions to make truly unique music. Another example of this is the track Hurricane. West goes deep into his personal life. He reflects on his marriage, success, addiction, and recent relationships. West again integrates his personal being into his music with every innovative beat. 

Aside from the avant-garde lyrical rap that Kanye is known for, West also falls back on his grandiose style he has honed over the years in the track No Child Left Behind. The song amplifies the sounds of an organ as Kanye sings “He’s done miracles on me.”

While public opinion on Donda, and Kanye, may be mixed, it is hard not to see the revolutionary process that has placed Kanye in the spotlight. Kanye mixes his life into his music, and has left fans with a deeper meaning of who he is. Whether or not the album is “good” is subject to personal interpretation, but it’s hard to deny the magnitude of Donda and the effects it has had on the hip-hop community.


Kanye West