This is the 10th full-length album from Chicago rapper, singer, songwriter, producer, businessman, fashion designer & supposed politician Kanye West. What can be said now about this man that hasn’t been said already? Regardless of how you feel about his public image, you can’t deny his creativity nor the impact his discography has had on hip hop over the last 17 years. More specifically The College Dropout & My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy. The last time we heard him in secular form was back in 2018 with ye, which in my opinion doesn’t get enough appreciation for detailing his struggles with bipolar disorder even to this day. Kanye later became a born-again Christian & went into gospel rap territory for his previous album Jesus is King in which the music was fine, but the mix was absolutely horrendous. But now after a embarrassing attempt at becoming president of the United States last fall & divorcing his Hobbit ex-wife, one can only go into DONDA expecting Ye to get a lot off his chest.
After the tedious “Donda Chant” intro, the first song “Jail” is a rock-tinged kickstarter with The Throne returning saying God’s gonna post their bail with co-production from Mike Dean alongside Dem Jointz & 88-Keys whereas “God Breathed” has assisted by E*Vax some choir vocals hanging in the back encouraging the listener to put their faith in the higher power. Playboi Carti & Fivio Foreign tag along for the trap-tinged “Off the Grid” co-produced by with 30 Roc proclaiming they did everything for the crib just before the Lil Baby-assisted “Hurricane” brings in some organs & snares with co-production from DJ Khalil & Ronny J to tell God to hold them close.
Meanwhile on “Praise God”, we have Baby Keem & Travis Scott joining forces to say they’re gonna praise their way out the grave helping work in an organ & choir vocals leading into “Jonah” with Lil Durk & Vory having some hypnotizing production as well as lyrics about loneliness. “Ok Ok” is an atmospheric cut co-produced with Boi-1da linking up with Lil Yachty & Rooga to call out those who’ve betrayed them, but then Ye & Carti pay homage to Junya Watanabe on the organ-bass infused “Junya” assisted by Digital Nas.
“Believe What I Say” does a fine job at sampling the iconic Lauryn Hill joint “Doo-Wop (That Thing)” telling the listener not to let the lifestyle drag you down whereas “24” brings back in some organs to say God’s not finished. “Remote Control” with Young Thug satirizes society these days with an ambient backdrop & snares whereas “Moon” is the greatest interlude of the year hands down, with Don Toliver & KiD CuDi hitting every note perfectly as the guitars that’re wailing behind them.
The way “Heaven & Hell” samples Drum Broker’s “Arena” is really cool with Ye standing up to to the system & after the titular interlude co-produced by BoogzDaBeast, “Keep My Spirit Alive” with Hall ‘N Nash finds the trio saying “you can take it all with the Lord on my side” over a cloudy instrumental. Jay Electronica & The LOX come in for the gorgeous “Jesus Lord” co-produced by Swizz Beatz & Gesaffelstein wanting to know someone who needs God, but then “New Again” sounds like a throwback to the Graduation days production-wise talking about being born again.
Tell the Vision” from the latest posthumous Pop Smoke album Faith feels out of place given that Ye has no presence on this version, but “Lord I Need You” makes up for it with it’s pillowy beat co-produced by Wheezy as Ye asks God to wrap his arms around him whereas the Roddy Ricch-assisted “Pure Souls” fuses organs with bass & handclaps to say “The truth is only what you get away with”.
The penultimate track “Come to Life” is an luxurious ballad pondering if you’ve ever wished you had another life & finally, “No Child Left Behind” ends the album with a straight up gospel ballad saying God has done miracles on him. We are then treated to alternate versions of “Jail”, “Ok Ok”, “Junya” & “Jesus Lord” as bonus cuts.
It should really go without saying that DONDA is what Jesus is King should’ve been & it’s a respectable tribute to Ye’s mom. There are a tad bit of filler cuts running at 27 joints & nearly 2 hours, but the mix sounds so much better in comparison to the last album.