Delay after delay, Kanye West’s tenth studio album, “Donda,” was finally released to streaming services on Aug. 29.
"Donda" is packed in quantity as the album clocks in at one hour and 47 minutes with 27 tracks for listeners to indulge in.
One of the most notable aspects about Donda is the cover art- or lack thereof.
The black void that is the album cover leaves viewers in the dark as West doesn’t give any hints about what the album has to offer in the cover art or the tracklist as no features are shown.
The first track, “Donda chant,” performed by Syleena Johnson, is a hypnotizing 52 seconds of the name "Donda" being repeated over and over with different vocal inflections. Johnson’s repetition of the word being spoken into the void is strikingly reminiscent of a lost child trying to find his mother. Throughout the album, West seems to be in the position of this child as he attempts to navigate his way through trials and tribulations in religion and music.
On the alt-rock influenced track “Jail,” Jay-Z pays homage to West’s and Jay’s collaborative project “Watch the Throne,” released in 2011, through the lines, “This might be the return of The Throne / Hova and Yeezus, like Moses and Jesus.”
The fourth track, “Off the Grid,” is filled with a plethora of heavy drill-like 808 slides with Fivio Foreign and West mercilessly delivering bar for bar.
“Hurricane,” featuring the Weeknd and Lil Baby, is one of the best tracks on the album as the Weeknd’s angelic voice makes the chorus sound psychedelic and heavenly, contrasting spectacularly with Lil Baby’s infamously quick hard-hitting rhyme schemes.
West struggles to cope with his shaky relationship with Kim Kardashian on the track “Lord I Need You.”
He states, “Member you used to come around and serenade me, woah / But I guess it’s gone a different direction lately / Tryna do the right thing with the freedom you gave me.”
West seems to be apologizing, but it can be hard for the listeners to believe with these lines making West appear self-centered.
Several times throughout the album, West’s features end up taking over the song and making it their own while West is sidelined. The track “Pure Souls” is a prime example of this as Roddy Ricch and Shenseea’s dominating contributions to the track overshadow West’s verse.
“Moon” is another track that West is put in the background of as the song highlights Don Toliver and Kid Cudi’s euphonic and resonant voices, as their use of autotune supported by the smooth electric guitar in the instrumental conveys a sense of delicacy and stillness in the vacuum of space.
Though the album is good, it is unnecessarily long as the beginning half of the album is near flawless and the back half seems uninspired in comparison.
As with West, maximalist production is expected and delivered as West’s ear for sonic melodies exceeds expectations in Donda while reinventing his sound with each project.