Album Review | Kanye West – Donda

This album was released on August 29th this year. After the disaster that was JESUS IS KING, I pretty much lost all interest in Kanye West. I can’t really say that I’m excited for this album, but I definitely don’t think it’ll be as bad as JIK. Certain rumors about this album have me intrigued. For example, according to Royce da 5’9″, Jay Electronica laid down an amazing verse for this project. I’m listening to this album to hear some dope features. I don’t really care about hearing Kanye rap these days. I still think he’s a talented producer though, so there will hopefully be some dope beats here as well. I’m pretty sure this album was originally supposed to drop on September 3rd. However, after Drake announced that his album would release on that day, Kanye probably decided to drop early just because he’s afraid of being overshadowed by his current nemesis. That’s my theory at least. I could be wrong. Anyway, I’m gonna try to go into this album with an open mind. I’m sure it’ll be decent.

As always, I’ll write about the songs I actually enjoyed before discussing what I won’t be returning to. The first song that I like is called Jail. I actually like the production a lot, and I think Kanye’s vocals sound pretty good. I mean, it does kinda sound like he recorded it on an iPhone, but I don’t mind the shitty mixing that much to be honest. As far as the lyrics go, they pretty much went in one ear and out the other. I wouldn’t say they’re trash though. I actually really love the chorus on this song too. I think the lyrics in the second verse might be him addressing his breakup with Kim Kardashian.

Guess who's getting exed?
You made a choice, that's yo' bad
Single life ain't so bad

He doesn’t really say anything super disparaging about her, which is kinda surprising to me. It probably shouldn’t be a surprise since she’s the mother of his children, but still. I wouldn’t put it past him. Anyway, I think the closing verse from Jay-Z is pretty dope.

Donda, I'm with your baby when I touch back road
Told him, "Stop all of that red cap, we goin' home"
Not me with all of these sins, casting stones
This might be the return of The Throne
Hova and Yeezus, like Moses and Jesus
You are not in control of my thesis
You already know what I think 'bout think pieces
Before you ask he already told you who he think he is
Don't try to jail my thoughts and think pre-cents
I can't be controlled with programs and presets

Overall, I think the song is pretty good. It’s definitely not a favorite of mine, but I enjoyed it. Track 5 is called Hurricane, and it features The Weeknd & Lil Baby. The hook from The Weeknd is easily the best aspect of the song to me, but I also enjoyed the verses from Lil Baby & Kanye. I wouldn’t really call myself a fan of Lil Baby, but he did his thing here.

Walkin' on the bridge, I threw my sins over the deep end
Sippin' 'til my stomach hurt, this month I done lost three friends
Early mornin' brainstormin', normally I can't sleep in
Sometimes I just wanna restart it, but it all depends
If I'ma be that same young, hungry nigga from West End
Wrote my hardest wrongs and the crazy part, I ain't have no pen

Kanye’s verse was cool too. It didn’t leave as much of an impression on me personally, but I enjoyed it to some extent. Again, the main appeal of the song for me is The Weeknd, but the production is cool too. I think it’s a pretty good song. It’s followed by Praise God, which features Travis Scott & Baby Keem. I actually think Travis sounds pretty good here. The production isn’t really anything special to be honest, but it works well as a backdrop for the three MCs on this track. Baby Keem is easily the best aspect of this song to me.

I need a new girl, my old one was mean

That line really resonated with me. I feel you, Keem. I fucking feel you. Anyway, this is another pretty good song in my opinion. I don’t love it, but I definitely like it to some extent. It’s followed by Jonah, which features Lil Durk, as well as someone named Vory, whom I’d never heard of before. I actually love his hook on this track though. That’s pretty much the main reason I like the song to be honest.

Who's here when I need a shoulder to lean on?
I hope you're here when I need the demons to be gone
And it's not fair that I had to fight 'em all on my own

I think the hook is fire. The production is also pretty nice. Vory’s actual verse was pretty cool too. I’m kind of indifferent towards the verse from Lil Durk. I didn’t really enjoy it very much, but I’d be lying if I said it was bad. I actually feel the same way about Kanye’s verse. Again, Vory is the main reason I like the song. I think the hook is awesome. This is definitely one of my favorite tracks on the album up to this point. I think it’s dope. Track 13 is entitled Moon, and it features Kid Cudi & Don Toliver. Kanye West is barely present on this track, which is probably why I like it. I think Don Toliver’s vocals sound really great on the hook, and the verse from Kid Cudi is dope. Again, the lyrics kinda go in one ear and out the other, but the vocals sound really good to me. I also think the production is pretty nice. My main gripe with the song is just how abruptly it ends. It’s really jarring to be honest. I still like the song overall though. Track 17 is called Jesus Lord, and it’s easily my favorite track on the album, and I’m not just saying that because it features Jay Electronica. Okay, that’s probably the main reason I like the song so much, but I actually think Kanye’s verse was really good too.

If I talk to Christ, can I bring my mother back to life?
And if I die tonight, will I see her in the afterlife?
But back to reality, where everything's a tragedy
You better have a strategy or you could be a statistic
Little boy dies, he's just one of the mystic
And mama steady crying 'cause she really the victim
And she's getting high and she's getting addicted
And her older boy just stuck with the picture, painted vivid

It’s easily Kanye’s best performance on the album in my opinion. Jay Electronica is really the star of the show here though. He fucking killed this track.

It's Jay Elec-entendre-nica comin' through your monitor
Back from the great beyond like the Son of Man or the Son of Donda
I never rolled the GSXR or the R6 or the Honda
But I flew my Ducati through North America like Wakanda
Earthquakes will strike this nation for what Bush did to Rwanda
What the Clintons did to Haiti and Downing Street did to Ghana
In Tenochtitlan, they call me Terremoto, El Negro Loco
I shake the tectonic plates of the game if I lay one vocal

His verse is probably my favorite moment on the whole album. He snapped. I don’t really think the production is anything special, and same goes for the hook, but the actual rapping is fire, and I appreciate that. I could’ve done without that speech from Larry Hoover Jr. at the end of the song. This track really didn’t need to be 9 minutes long. However, I still think it’s pretty dope overall. That’s the last song on the album that I actually like, so now I’ll talk about the tracks that I won’t be returning to. The opening track is entitled Donda Chant, and I think it’s pretty fucking stupid to be honest. It’s literally just Syleena Johnson saying “DoNdA dOnDa DoNdA” over and over again for about 52 seconds. It sounds dumb. It made me laugh to be honest. Track 3 is called God Breathed, and I don’t think it’s a bad track at all. It’s just not something that I’d return to. The one aspect of the song that I really like is the production, which kinda sounds like something from Yeezus. As the title indicates, Kanye’s just rapping about how god breathed on this song. The hook is simplistic, but I think it works well. The song has another feature from Vory; I think he did a pretty good job. To me he sounds like Sampha mixed with Young Thug here. The actual verse from Kanye was okay. I don’t really get why he mentioned Dustin Hoffman at one point because it doesn’t seem to connect to any of the other messages in any way. I feel like he just needed something to fit the rhyme scheme.

Dustin, he a Hoffman
Don't fall what they offerin'
Fall far too often, yeah, call God, but don't call enough
Fall down, but don't fall in love, I know God is all in us

I’m not gonna pretend to be super bothered by it; I just found it kinda silly. Anyway, I think it’s a decent track overall. Same goes for the following track, Off the Grid. I wasn’t as impressed by the production here, but it’s not bad at all. The song features Playboi Carti & Fivio Foreign, who both had solid performances in my opinion. I mean, I wouldn’t argue with anyone who told me that Carti’s verse was trash, but I didn’t mind him too much. I appreciated his expressive delivery. The lyrics of course aren’t very interesting at all, but none of them stood out in an especially bad way. Fivio Foreign’s verse was pretty good in my opinion, and Kanye’s verse was also pretty nice.

Don't try to test me, I keep it clean, but it can get messy
I talk to God everyday, that's my bestie
They playin' soccer in my backyard, I think I see Messi
And this money could never neglect me
I pray that my family they never resent me
And she fell in love with me as soon she met me
We both got it bad mama, bag is more heavy
We have to start countin', it's gettin' too petty
You not a real stepper, you can't overstep me
Just sit back and listen and watch how He bless me
He wait 'til I fall and then pull up and catch me
Your check is too small, you can't run up and check me

The lyrics aren’t amazing or anything, but he was rhyming well, and he had a nice flow. Overall, I think it’s a pretty cool track. It’s just not something that I see myself returning to. It’s definitely not bad though. Track 8 is called Ok Ok, and it’s pretty uninteresting to me. I think the production is really flat, and none of the verses really impressed me that much. Kanye was cool on the first verse, and Lil Yachty sounded surprisingly competent on the second verse. I’m not familiar with the artist on the final verse, who’s named Rooga. He definitely had my least favorite verse but I wouldn’t say it was trash. It sounded like something Lil Durk would do. I’m just really not into that style at all, so I can’t say I enjoyed it. It was fine though. Overall, the song is just kinda bland to me. Nothing about it stands out in a good or bad way. It’s just some midpack. It’s followed by Junya, which is the first song that I would say is legitimately bad. The production on this song is trash to me, and it sounds like Kanye was trying to do what Playboi Carti does. This song features him, but he doesn’t really do anything that Kanye didn’t do or couldn’t have done himself. I just find the song to be incredibly annoying. When music is this repetitive it just irritates me. I think the song is terrible to be honest. It’s followed by Believe What I Say, which is a lot better. I think the production is pretty dope. That Lauryn Hill sample is really cool to me. I also think the sung hook from Kanye sounds pretty good. Unfortunately, Kanye’s actual verses did nothing for me. I think if this song had a good feature it would’ve been a lot more interesting. It’s not a bad track at all. I don’t mind listening to it. It’s just not something that I’d return to. Track 11 is called 24, and it features the Sunday Service Choir.

This is easily the most traditional-sounding Gospel song on the album up to this point. It sounds like a more complete version of something that could’ve appeared on JESUS IS KING. Just like with most of the other tracks, I don’t think it’s bad, but it’s just not something that I’d ever listen to again. The production did nothing for me, and I’ve never been a fan of Gospel music. The song didn’t leave much of an impression on me at all. I think it’s mediocre. It’s followed by Remote Control, which I think is a little better. The production is pretty good. I especially like the whistling that comes in during the hook. That shit sounds really good to be honest. Again, the lyrics kinda went in one ear and out the other, but the melody of Kanye’s performance sounds okay. To be honest, Young Thug didn’t really impress me very much on the second verse. I don’t think his verse was bad, but it just didn’t really stand out to me. Overall, I think the song is okay. I just won’t be listening to it again. Same goes for track 14, Heaven & Hell. I think Kanye’s verse on this track is actually pretty good. There’s just not much else to dig into aside from the verse itself. The beat is cool, but there’s no hook or bridge or anything. Kanye just shows up to rap and then does some goofy scatting on the outro. I think the verse is well-written, but I’m not crazy about Kanye’s flow.

Pray for new life, pray for new breath
Hey, Lord, make sure it's safe for who's left
Know you can't find a place to rest
Know the Lord my bulletproof vest
When we survive, know that we blessed
Save my people through the music

I imagine I’d dig the song more if the religious content resonated with me, but since I’m an atheist I don’t really care about what Kanye has to say here. I think it’s well-executed though. He rhymed well. The song is okay. The title track is mostly occupied by speech from Donda West herself, and it’s just not really interesting to listen to. I don’t think the production is very entertaining, but Kanye’s vocals do sound good in my opinion. There’s just not really anything interesting happening in this track. I’d never listen to the song again, but I’m not gonna pretend it’s bad because it’s not. I just find it to be mediocre. Keep My Spirit Alive is another decent track. It actually features Hall n’ Nash, which caught me by surprise. The opening verse from Westside Gunn is okay. I probably would’ve liked it more if he didn’t go so hard on the ad-libs. The ad-libs annoyed the shit outta me honestly. Conway‘s verse was pretty awesome, but it was way too short. He only spit like 8 bars. Kanye definitely had my least favorite verse on the song, but I wouldn’t say it was bad. It was just mediocre to me. However, it was kinda cool how he rhymed “Kan’, duh” with “Wakanda.” The song also features vocals from an artist named KayCyy, whom I’d never heard of before. She didn’t really stand out to me at all to be honest. She sounded pretty generic. The song is okay to me overall, but it’s not something that I’m gonna be returning to. Track 18 is entitled New Again, and it’s some more midpack. The only thing I like about this song is the production. I think the beat is pretty cool. However, the rapping from Kanye didn’t leave much of an impression on me, and I definitely could’ve done without that Chris Brown feature. Aside from the production, nothing about the track really stands out to me. It’s mediocre overall. It’s followed by Tell the Vision, which is easily the worst song on the album. The piano-driven beat is insultingly simplistic, and the posthumous Pop Smoke vocals here sound awful. Don’t get it twisted; I’m not saying that Pop Smoke did anything wrong. Whoever was in charge of mixing his vocals over this beat did him a huge disservice. The whole song is just a fucking mess. I feel like if I was a friend of Pop Smoke I would be pissed about this. They’re fucking with a dead man’s art. That’s fucked up. Anyway, I think the song is wack af. It has zero redeeming qualities in my opinion. The following track is entitled Lord I Need You. I don’t like it. I think the lyricism from Kanye about Kim was kind of interesting, but aside from that this song did nothing for me.

We used to do the freak like seven days a week
It's the best collab since Taco Bell and KFC
Talk to me nicely, don't come at me loud
You had a Benz at sixteen, I could barely afford a Audi
How you gon' try to say sometimes it's not about me?
Man, I don't know what I would do without me
Billionaire sport, step up to the court
They rented a room, we bought the resort

The production was pretty uninteresting, and I don’t really think the hook is that great. The song is mediocre to me. At this point on the album I kinda started to check out just because so much of it is middling to me. Also, this shit is long as fuck. I was ready for this thing to be over once I got to track 18. Anyway, track 21 is called Pure Souls, and it features Roddy Ricch & Shenseea. It’s not a bad song at all. It’s just not something I’m gonna be returning to. I think the production is solid, and I actually like Roddy Ricch’s performance on this track. His verse was cool, and the hook is great. Kanye’s performance didn’t really impress me at all, but it was fine. Shenseea also sounded pretty good singing on the outro. The song really didn’t need to be as long as it is, but that’s just a nitpick. I think it’s decent overall. It’s followed by Come to Life, which is another track that sounds more like something from JESUS IS KING.

It’s way better than anything from that album though. I actually think the production is kind of beautiful, and Kanye’s singing sounds very passionate. The actual melody just isn’t that entertaining to me. This song sounds like it came from the heart though. Same goes for the following track, No Child Left Behind. This one has another feature from Vory, who sounds pretty great in my opinion. The production is also pretty nice. There isn’t very much to dig into lyrically; it’s just more of the same religious stuff. I feel like I would like this song if I was really into Gospel music. Nothing about the track stood out to me in a bad way. I think it’s an alright track. It’s definitely not a bad way to end the project. There are four bonus tracks, all of which are remixes. The first one is for Jail, and it features DaBaby & Marilyn Manson. Honestly, fuck Kanye for that. DaBaby is a homophobe and Marilyn Manson is a sexual abuser. I’d probably be able to look past it if they at least had good performances on this track, but that’s not the case. Marilyn Manson sounds goofy as hell on the hook, and DaBaby continuously misses the point in regards to why he was dropped from Austin City Limits and other music festivals.

I said one thing they ain't like, threw me out like they ain't care for me
Threw me out like I'm garbage, huh?
And that food that y'all took off my table
You know that feed my daughters, huh?
But I ain't really mad, 'cause when I look at it
I'm getting them snakes up out my grass and, nigga, that's a good habit

The original version is far superior to this remix. Track 25 is a remix to Ok Ok, and this version features a verse from Shenseea. I actually think this version is superior to the original. Shenseea sounds pretty good on her verse in my opinion. I definitely like this version more, so I’d say it was a success. It’s still not something that I’d return to though. The penultimate track is a remix to Junya, featuring an additional verse from Ty$. He definitely can’t save this track. The song is still really bad. However, if someone put a gun to my head and told me to choose one, I’d definitely go with this remix. I hate the beat, and the repetitive vocals are annoying as shit. Ty$ is easily the best aspect of the song though. It’s still wack to me, but I’d say it’s better than the original. The closing track is an ELEVEN MINUTE long remix of Jesus Lord. This one features The LOX, which really caught me by surprise. Sheek Louch‘s verse is solid I guess. Jadakiss actually killed that fourth verse though.

Viral pictures, Bible scriptures
One thing 'bout the devil, he's liable to get you
Long as my good days outweigh my bad days
I don't count the money, I just know how much the bag weighs

Styles P did his thing too. I just feel like The LOX sound really out of place on this track. Who wanted to hear them do Christian Hip Hop? I certainly didn’t ask for that. Their verses weren’t bad though. With that said, I don’t care for this remix. The length is not justified. I’m not sitting through 11 minutes of this.

This shit is not good. However, I wouldn’t say that it’s bad at all. There are only a handful of tracks that I would say are legitimately wack. I’m glad I listened to this project because I got a few enjoyable songs. This shit is incredibly flawed though. In all honesty, this album is kind of a mess. I was more excited for the features than for Kanye on pretty much every track. There are 6 songs that I liked, but none that I loved. I have to say that I’m really disappointed in the production. Barely any of the beats stood out to me in a good way. A lot of the beats sounded surprisingly generic to me. That’s probably the most disappointing facet of the album. This shit is way too long by the way. It’s an hour and 48 minutes long. I feel like this should’ve been 15 songs at most. 27 tracks is just fucking overkill, especially when so many of them aren’t good. Obviously Kanye’s stans are gonna gobble this shit up like some coochie, but I think most of his fans will probably enjoy it to some extent as well. I don’t really consider myself a fan of Kanye West anymore. I do think this is a massive improvement over JESUS IS KING though. This is what that album should’ve been. This is pretty well done Christian Hip Hop in my opinion. Personally, I can’t say I liked this album, but I am glad that I listened to it because I got a few good songs out of it. It’s mediocre to me overall though.

Favorite Song: Jesus Lord
Least Favorite Song: Tell the Vision


Watch the videos below for more thoughts on this album.

Grade: D+



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