Kanye West returns to the music scene with his much-anticipated album Donda

Griffith Pugh, staff writer

Rapper, singer, designer, poet, and artist, Kanye West, released his tenth studio album Donda late last August. The album is named after Kanye’s late mother, Donda West, who died in 2007. West has been outspoken about the pain her death caused him, but Donda is the first time he has addressed it in the conceptual form of an album. 

Although West has been teasing the album for over a year now, the official rollout didn’t begin until mid-July.  Multiple release date changes would lead fans to question whether the album would even drop at all. In the weeks leading up to the August 29 release, Kanye held four separate listening parties, each with different visuals and tracklists as he was still in the creative process of constructing the album. As well as being streamed on Apple Music, three of the four parties were held in massive stadiums, with general admission open to the public. 

The album starts off with “Jail,” an anthemic rock song driven by a screaming electric guitar. Jay-Z and Kanye notably squash their beef as they reunite on this song. As per usual, Jay’s feature is full of incredible wordplay and punch lines. He even went a step farther than I thought he would by taking a dig at Kanye in saying, “Stop all of that red cap we goin’ home,” in reference to Kanye’s support of former president Donald Trump and his signature MAGA hats. 

The highly anticipated track “Hurricane” also fails to disappoint. It features The Weeknd, who delivers an airy angelic hook, and Lil Baby, whose voice sounds warm, vibrant and golden. Kanye’s verse walks a tough line sounding hungry and ambitious while being open and vulnerable with bars like, “Dropped out of school, but I’m that one at Yale,” and, “Made the best tracks and still went off the rail.”  

Kanye shows off his godly storytelling ability in the deeply personal “Jesus Lord,” making it one of my favorite cuts from the EP. In the song, Kanye touches on losing his friends, contemplating suicide, and filling the void caused by his mother’s death with pills and drugs. 

One of the only problems with Donda is its slightly bloated tracklist. Although infrequent, there are a handful of tracks that shouldn’t have made the cut, namely “Tell the Vision.” Between the generic piano beat and the weirdly distorted Pop Smoke sample, the track is an easy skip and lacks any thematic value. However, these flaws are few and far between, which is why Donda is a top-five Kanye album and some of his best work since The Life of Pablo back in 2016.

  Overall, I appreciate how open and aware Kanye is about his mental health struggles on Donda. With a recent divorce from his ex-wife Kim Kardashian and naming the album after his mother, I think it would feel weird if he didn’t discuss these topics. My biggest takeaway from Donda is Kanye’s ability to illustrate how God is his saving grace in times of death, or heartbreak. God provides Kanye with something to believe in, something that provides comfort, strength, and hope through the highs and lows of life.  He sums up this concept perfectly in the song “Come to Life,” where Kanye sings, “Floating on a silver lining, God is still alive, so I’m free.”


Favorite tracks: Lord I Need You, Keep My Spirit Alive, 24, Jail, Hurricane, Pure Souls

Least favorite tracks: Tell The Vision, Ok Ok