Kanye Returns: A Donda review Kanye Returns: A Donda review
BY ADDISON ROBERTS In “Donda,” Kanye West comes back with full force.  “Donda” is Kanye’s first full-length album since 2016’s “The Life of Pablo”... Kanye Returns: A Donda review


In “Donda,” Kanye West comes back with full force. 

“Donda” is Kanye’s first full-length album since 2016’s “The Life of Pablo” and a lot has happened to the artist in the meantime, including a separation from his wife Kim Kardashian and a rebirth in his identity as a Christian. The album is named after his late mother and carries a lot of personal reverence for one of hip-hop’s most infamous names. 

His previous two releases, “Ye” and “Jesus is King”, explored his mental state and his strengthened faith. Kanye left it unclear what was next for him with several ditched projects and a hectic rollout for Donda. But now that the album is here, it has big expectations to live up to.

“Donda” blends many elements of Kanye’s previous music to good effect. Each sound fits together well creating a good sonic balance. Bass-heavy and glitchy tracks such as “God Breathed” and “Remote Control” recall the intense, manic style of ”Yeezus” and the more melodic songs like “Pure Souls” and “Come to Life” fit in line with the “Graduation” era. Kanye continues delivering his spiritual message as he did on “Jesus is King,” but the songs on ”Donda” are far more developed and varied making these themes much more resonant in delivery. 

“Donda” features an ensemble of rap’s biggest names and best performers, giving their all on almost every track. This gives the album a sense of being a group project. Kanye really lets his guest artists breathe and often tailors his own voice and flow to blend better with the other artists on the track. The features include superstar artists like Travis Scott and Playboy Carti once again collaborating with West. Most notable perhaps is his mentor Jay-Z, who after beefing with West for several years returns with perhaps the best guest verse on the album in “Jail.” 

A standout song is “Hurricane,” which has been stuck in developmental purgatory since it was leaked in 2019. The Weeknd provides the earworm chorus with an ephemeral clarity and Lil Baby and Kanye both deliver impactful verses. Elements of the original song are also adapted into “Moon” with Kid Cudi sounding angelic over atmospheric production.

With West’s previous releases stretching only 20 or 30 minutes, “Donda” is almost quadruple that in length. In fact, it’s his longest album ever and his longest since his debut “The College Dropout.” A two-hour album almost always feels its length and “Donda” isn’t an exception. Although there are good songs throughout and they flow decently well, there are no switches in pace and the album teeters on overstaying its welcome. On West’s previous lengthy albums, skits and interludes have provided this break but those are absent from “Donda.” Certain moments such as the outro on “God Breathed” and the two minute voicemail at the end of “Jesus Lord” stick out particularly. 

Oddly included at the end of the record are “Part 2” tracks which are repeats of earlier songs with different or more features that despite a few exceptions only serve to draw out each song, and the album, out. Some of these features are especially questionable including Marilyn Manson, the subject of several recent abuse allegations. DaBaby as well, who came under fire for his spontaneous homphobic comments, breathlessly complaining about losing some money over the controversy. With Chris Brown’s feature being cut it’s unclear why these artists weren’t let go as well. With them appearing on bonus tracks it feels like their appearances are more a cheap publicity stunt than some thematic message. 

Overall, “Donda” is a solid outing by Kanye and proves he hasn’t lost what it takes to make a quality and engaging full-length album. Time will tell if West’s fans are due for another disappearing act or if we can expect more from him soon.

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