Music Review: Kanye West’s ‘Donda’


Clara Johnson, Journalist

On August 29, 2021, Kanye West finally released his album, Donda, as a tribute to his mother, Donda West, who died unexpectedly in 2007 due to plastic surgery complications. At the time, she was only 58 years old and had retired to become the rapper’s “momager,” or “mom manager.”

The loss hit West hard. The album brings up heavy topics in the lyrics, such as his close relationship with his mother, divorce from Kim Kardashian, and life with his daughter, North West. 

The first track on the album is entitled “Donda Chant” and features the continuous chanting of the name “Donda” almost religiously. The song makes one feel like you are about to embark on a spiritual anthem. Yet, suddenly, the next track entitled “Jail” completely changes the album’s feel.

In many tracks, such as “Praise God” and “Keep My Spirit Alive,” listeners can hear intertwined lyrics that honor his mother. In fact, the whole album treats listeners to insights into Kanye’s relationship with religion and his late mother. This is where Kanye is at his strongest.

Unfortunately, these tracks are too few.

In many of West’s past albums, we can hear him mention his mother, and in “Donda,” she is ever more present in his music. Although the rapper did not have a strong relationship with his father, he is still present in his music.

The long-anticipated album came out with critics holding their breath and fans jumping to attend the August 6 listening party in Atlanta, Georgia.

West is known for his collaboration with other artists and is accredited for producing the best results when he is doing just that. However, West’s choice of collaborators within this album, including The Weeknd and Travis Scott, feels like a hurt-more-than-help situation.

Many fans felt disappointed after the album came out, calling it “overhyped” and “underwhelming.” The songs standing on their own are well written. However, when all put together, it feels as if they were not well thought out, exacerbated by its chaotic production.