The most ‘Kanye’ album of all time
Charlie Brock
21:40 29th August 2021

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Kanye West, or Ye as he may soon be known, has finally put an end to the DONDA album speculation by dropping it. After weeks and months of hype, memes and classic Kanye shenanigans, DONDA is finally here!

The album opens with 'Donda Chant', a spoken word offering, repeating the album’s title (and Kanye’s monther’s name). We get our first impressions of Ye on 'Jail', a track that has vibes of Yeezus in its epic production, as well as glimpses of the choral elements on Jesus is King and a superb feature from Jay Z. Jay’s verse is as epic and foreboding as the album itself, although there are early inklings that Kanye’s DONDA is akin to Be Here Now—grandiose and epic in moments, but overproduced and self-indulgent at times. 

We hear Kanye’s flow for the first time on 'God Breathed', where Kanye and Vory deliver their lyrics over a bed of choral low notes, which continue long after the verses and beat end. 'Off The Grid' walks the path of each track before it: strong features and verses from rappers who sound excellent, but each intro and outro—as well as some of the instrumental tracks—are far too long and bloated (although the Messi bar is a prime example of Kanye casting often his cutting wit on modern culture).

The Weeknd’s vocals are lended to 'Hurricane', and he sounds on top form: his voice is without doubt one of the best in modern pop. Kanye raps about his house, his ex-wife and more in a verse that clearly touches on personal issues that Ye is still working through. 'Praise God' and 'Jonah' are two more perfectly serviceable Ye cuts that follow the cookie cutter pattern of interesting features and Yeezy rapping about his relationship with God. 

'Believe What I Say' is again a great cut, and '24' is a fun interlude—the latter would be right at home on Jesus is King and the gospel choir is great to listen to, if not a little unorthodox for a rap album. 

'Heaven and Hell' is a real standout, with Kanye musing on Bezos, vinyl and modern culture as a whole. The track evokes memories of the more rebellious Kanye; the outspoken forked tongued realist, who would never be seen dead near someone like Trump. 'Donda' includes Ariana Grande, who harmonises with aplomb.

DONDA ebbs and flows, often melancholic and subversive, often outlandish and snarling. Kanye manages to capture elements of his illustrious career throughout DONDA, which really makes the album a fun listen. Kanye shows the less popular elements of himself too though. A lacklustre feature from proven prick Chris Brown and an appearance from the homophobe DaBaby leave a sour taste in the mouth...not to mention Kanye bringing out Marilyn Manson at a DONDA live event last week. 

'Come To Life' and 'Jail Pt.2' are some of the filler that bloats an otherwise strong DONDA, but 'Ok Ok pt 2' and 'Junya pt 2' are both peak Kanye. 

I get the sense that no one has said 'no' to Kanye at any point in the production of DONDA, but it is the most ‘Kanye’ album of all time. Absurdly out of touch at times, with references to his presidential run, DONDA can also be shockingly relevant, highlighting the reality of American life. Although the album could do with going on some sort of crash diet, it's a strong and fascinating addition to the Kanye discography.

DONDA is out now. 

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