After confirming his plan to run for president in 2024, asking the court to legally change his name and getting a divorce, a lot has happened to Kanye West since his last album, “JESUS IS KING” was released in 2019. Recently, Kanye debuted his album, “Donda,” named after his late mother, giving fans a glimpse into the mind of Kanye over the past three years. The 27-track album paints a deeper picture of his life: the pain, regret and guilt. Kanye shows us the real Kanye, and why we all keep coming back.
West is no stranger to the spotlight and not always necessarily for his music. He does what he wants when he wants, and dropping “Donda” never seemed to be written bold on his schedule, teasing fans with drop date after drop date. After the initial release was deferred on July 23, fans turned their heads and began to question when the album would drop. But that was not enough. Holding three listening shows in three cities, Kanye showcased extravagant theatrics: a life-sized representation of his childhood home, him parading calmly around stage on fire and his now ex-wife Kim Kardashian appearing in a wedding dress. Kanye stirred the anticipation in his fans he craved, sending them to the edge of their seats and to Twitter waiting for the “album of a lifetime” to hit.
When Donda finally came out, it was a lot on paper. Although 27 songs and a one hour and 48 minute album is more than a little excessive, Kanye holds the listener’s attention with different lyrical styles and modern featured artists, such as Playboi Carti, Lil Baby, Travis Scott, Roddy Ricch and the controversial DaBaby and Marilyn Manson. The featured artists’ sounds seamlessly combine, even with Kanye’s distinct style, to make music worth listening to. Inevitably, with close to two hours worth of listening, there are some songs that are skip worthy.
The album begins with chanting Kanye’s late mother’s name, Donda, over and over, like a heartbeat. It then kicks into the classical rock bass of “Jail,” showing the artist dealing with his feelings over his recent divorce. Lines like, “Guess who’s getting ‘exed? You made a choice that’s your bad, single life ain’t so bad,” pointing fingers at Kim Kardashian. The catchy words of the chorus, however, overshadow the words and echo through the speakers, making the song what it is. “Guess who’s going to jail tonight,” is the perfect verse to scream at the top of your lungs with your friends late at night.
In the fan favorite, “Hurricane,” featuring Lil Baby and The Weeknd, Kanye opens up about his struggles with life, death and love. The Weeknd’s melodic voice combined with Lil Baby’s range of vocals gives the album the first slower paced song it needs. Kanye comes clean, saying, “Here I go actin’ too rich, here I go with a new chick… still playin’ after two kids.”
“No Child Left Behind,” would have been the perfect way to end this album. Played during Kanye’s infamous ascension into the sky during one of his teaser shows, the beginning of the song sounds like what would be playing at the gates of heaven. We see in this song, like many others, Kanye’s strong connection to his faith. The soothing chords are exactly what would’ve closed out the album in a normal elaborate Kanye fashion.
With other commendable songs such as “Pure Souls,” “New Again,” “24,” and “Heaven and Hell,” we see a vulnerable, enlightened Kanye coming to terms with his past. We see all sides of him: faith, family and love. He is throwing in the flag and surrendering all of his feelings into one recording.
Now, is the album good? Yes. Is it great? Maybe. Is it the album of a lifetime? No. “Donda” is for a specific group of listeners. It’s not like the normal faster paced rap albums you hear. You either love it, or you hate it. The album is Kanye: it’s unforgettable, egotistical, insane, yet genius Kanye. It’s why his music keeps selling and it’s why we all keep coming back. If you don’t like it, it doesn’t matter because Kanye is going to keep doing Kanye, and he doesn’t care what you think.
Certified Lover Boy
On Sept. 2, 2021, Drake released his sixth studio album, “Certified Lover Boy.” Drake hoped to drop CLB to add to the ongoing conflict between him and Kanye West. Following the release of Kanye West’s album, “Donda,” Drake released CLB five days later. Three days after its release, CLB sold more than Donda, selling more than 613,000 copies in the first week. However, just because it has a high number of sales, does not mean that the album is by any means good.
Certified Lover Boy reflects Drake’s unwillingness to commit to a long-term relationship, considering how he must maintain his rap career while dealing with an unplanned pregnancy and fatherhood. Drake is also expressive of his ego with his established name and popularity within rap. There are occasional high points in the album that are enjoyable to listen to, but the majority of this album consists of an overused amount of filler and repetition, making the listening experience of CLB extremely tedious.
CLB is an hour and 26-minute album that consists of 21 songs; most of which are very dull. There are many lengthy, similar-sounding R&B songs scattered throughout the album with a few songs that are more thrilling. CLB has the feel of another typical Drake album, with nothing new or different added. The album contains numerous mediocre songs. Even one of Drake’s biggest fans, DJ Akademiks, fell asleep on a live stream listening to the album.
There are a few instances where Drake manages to slide some odd lyricism in the album. The most notable being the third track of the album, “Girls Want Girls,” where Drake may have spit one of the worst lines in rap history: “Yeah, say that you a lesbian, girl, me too.’’ There was a repeating theme of other artists carrying Drake on his own track. Features such as Future on “Way 2 Sexy” and Travis Scott on “Fair Trade” overlook the mediocrity of the rest of Drake’s part of the track. The album feels like a repeat of his previous albums, Views and Scorpion. But with CLB, there aren’t any standout songs that make the album any more unique to his others. Because there aren’t many very memorable songs on this album, CLB is not going to hold any longevity for the future.
Certified Lover Boy is not a standout album compared to the rest of Drake’s discography.
The album as a whole is quite bland and lacks excitement. Drake compacted the album with filler content targeted toward marketing in response to Kanye’s release, rather than creating a well-put-together project.