Kanye West’s highly anticipated 10th studio album “Donda” finally arrived after months of delays, teasers and four live performances, but perhaps the project could have benefited from a little more time.
After nearly two years of waiting from the initial announcement of a new album, fans were finally rewarded for their patience on Aug. 29.
The album mixes “the old Kanye’s” early hip-hop pop sounds like those featured in “808s and Heartbreak”, with Christian gospel influences heavily utilized in West’s last project “JESUS IS KING”. The result is a new sound that lays on the tamer side of West’s discography, but still provides enough to keep listeners engaged.
The hearty one-hour and 48-minute runtime of 27 tracks features a smorgasbord of star-studded features such as Jay-Z, Travis Scott, The Weeknd, Kid Cudi, Playboi Carti, Lil Baby and Young Thug.
The album has both highs and lows, which can be expected out of an average album.
But the constantly recurring delays on the project, the leaked features list and the recent antics of West created an out-of-control hype storm raising expectations well past those of any average album.
At times, featuring artists help provide an entertaining listening experience in “Donda.”
In the melodic “Remote Control”, Kanye sings about having control over his own life, his wealth and his social status before passing the spotlight off to Young Thug, whose sound both compliments and adds endless replayability to the track.
In “Jail”, Kanye energetically partners with old friend Jay-Z to create a powerful stadium-esque anthem track that captures a feeling of nostalgia for the duo’s “Watch the Throne” album.
However, the featured artist who made the most out of their time on the album was the relatively unknown Houston rapper, singer and songwriter Vory, whose powerful and uplifting vocals on tracks “Jonah” and “No Child Left Behind” provide a fresh change of pace to the overall project.
Other features make the album feel like a school project hastily done the night before, (or like an album rashly produced weeks ago inside of Mercedes-Benz Stadium).
Highly recognizable names like Travis Scott and Lil Baby are used as clickbaity selling-points to draw listeners in without providing anything new or exciting.
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In “Hurricane”, The Weeknd takes his time floating through a chorus before Lil Baby interrupts with a 40 second verse that doesn’t seem to click with the rest of the song.
In “Praise God” Travis Scott utilizes a high-pitched shriek vocal, before giving way to Baby Keem, who raps “let’s get right” eight times in a row, using an even higher-pitched autotune shriek.
“Ok Ok” features a verse from Lil Yachty, whose monotone and out-of-sync voice derails the track.
Overall, it’s a solid effort from Kanye. There’s a little bit of something for everyone if you spend close to its two hour run-time looking for it, but you can’t help but feel like it could have been something more.
Donda’s chaotic release on Aug. 29 saw West take to Instagram to announce that Universal apparently put the album out without Kanye’s final approval. Listening to the final project, it maybe could have benefited from some minor tweaks and touch-ups that a week or so’s time could have provided.
Whatever the verdict, millions of listeners still aren’t ready to move on from Kanye no matter how tumultuous his releases come. As of Sept. 1, all 27 tracks on Donda were featured in Spotify’s Top 50 - USA charts, with 22 tracks placed within the top 30.
Rating: 6.8 / 10