Donda Review


Oliver Folan, Arts and Entertainment Editor '22

Whether or not you like Kanye West’s music or him as a person, it is an undeniable fact that he is arguably the most influential and important figure in hip-hop. But even more incredible is that he still remains relevant even by today standards, and by still relevant I mean more relevant than basically any other artist. It absolutely blows my mind that he can announce a surprise listening party for Donda at the Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta and have it sell out almost immediately, and then proceed to do literally the same exact thing two more times, despite not even having dropped the album during that time. There are very few artists who can do what Kanye West does, but it’s important not to be blinded by the unparalleled amount of hype and stay levelheaded when listening to a new Kayne album.

Donda is Kanye’s 10th solo album and his 2nd album within his hardcore Jesus phase. Kanye is no stranger to making incredible gospel inspired music, as songs like “Jesus Walks” and “Ultralight Beam” are highlights in his discography. However, his new era of gospel inspired music seems less focused on the role the Lord plays in his life but instead a portrait of Kanye’s recent mental decline and his overbearing ego. Don’t get me wrong, reckless, mentally-ill Kanye can also lead to some incredible music, as seen with The Life of Pablo, but albums like Jesus is King feel considerably more dangerous than usual. Thankfully, Donda improves on Jesus is King in just about every way possible. Donda feels significantly less repetitive, which is miraculous considering the fact that it is almost an hour longer. It was smart of Kanye to jam pack this album with as many features as he could because at this point in his career, he can’t carry an album all by himself, and the features here are actually really great. Donda also has a surprising amount of genuinely breath taking moments during its runtime. Songs like “24” and “No Child Left Behind,” for example, are easily two of the best songs off the project. Both songs are so epic and inspiring. I can’t help but think back to Kanye’s second Donda listening party when he was being suspended high in the air as if he was transcending into the heavens. Obviously, I didn’t have that strong of a reaction to anything off this album, but you can see what he was going for. “Moon” is another gorgeous moment off the album, with some very pleasant guitars and arguably Donda’s best feature in the form of Don Toliver. “Jonah” is a definite highlight for me with its very somber and catchy hook from Vory, although the incessant beeping noise is a bit unnecessary. “Off The Grid” is one of the biggest bangers off the album with its killer features and Kanye’s attempt at a drill beat. “Believe What I Say” is another great track. It has this very unexpected summertime dance vibe to it and sounds really great and unlike anything off the record. Other songs I thoroughly enjoyed were “Lord I Need You” and “Pure Souls.”

Although there are a handful of tracks off Donda that I quite enjoy, this is still a deeply flawed project. First off, why does Kanye feel the need to censor the cuss words? It’s one thing to not have the words there in the first place, but Kanye straight up censored himself. It’s your album, Kanye, just don’t say the words in the first place. I also found the good majority of the production off Donda to be very unmemorable. When I relisten to Kanye’s more recent projects like The Life of Pablo and Kids See Ghost, I’m blown away by how creative the production is. For every song I enjoy on Donda there are 1 or 2 songs that are boring or repetitive, and more often than not Kanye’s verses don’t have the lyrical potency to make up for a mediocre beat. The first real song off the album, “Jail,” isn’t a bad song by any means, but the song never goes anywhere, and the Jay-Z feature felt awkward. I don’t understand why Kanye chose to put Jay-Z on this song other than the fact that Kanye clearly wanted this song to sound as hype as possible. It doesn’t sound like the type of song Jay-Z would shine on. “Hurricane” is another disappointing track off the album. I really enjoy The Weeknd’s feature and how dark and sinister the bass is, but the drums sound far too dry and the way the organ seeps into the beat is horrendously ugly. “Junya” has some energy to it, but at the same time it sounds like a bad Playboi Carti song, and even the Carti feature was a major step down from his feature on “Off The Grid.” “Tell The Vision” seems like yet another shameless cash grab capitalizing off the death of Pop Smoke. Other songs I’m not crazy about include “God Breathed” and “New Again.” “Ok Ok,” “Keep My Spirit Alive,” “Jesus Lord,” and “Come to Life” are all solid cuts off the record, but they still don’t stand out to me for one reason or another.

Overall, Donda is fine. I don’t think I’ll be listening to this project as much as Kanye’s other albums in the future, mostly because a lot of the songs here feel forgettable or expendable, and while Kanye’s religious undertones do feel more fully realized and genuine, it still feels a bit dangerous. It is reckless of Kanye to put DaBaby and Marylin Manson on “Jail pt 2” all under the muse that he is some sort of savior. Using religion as a crutch to do terrible stuff is always terrible, no matter how much we love Kanye. That being said, there are a handful of absolutely gorgeous moments, like “24,” “Moon,” and “No Child Left Behind,” that make the album worth listening to.


Best Tracks

“Off the Grid”


“Believe What I Say”



“Lord I Need You”

“Pure Souls”

“No Child Left Behind”


Worst Track

“Tell the Vision”