His newest album as a tribute to his late mother


Dimitrios Kambouris, Getty Images

Kanye West performs during Kanye West Yeezy Season 3 on February 11, 2016 in New York City.

Kanye West dropped his tenth studio album, Donda on August 29, 2021. It is named after his late mother Donda West.

The album dropped overnight. Fans were happy to see the 27- track, 1-hour 44-minute album released. Many fans, however, including myself, were disappointed to see that there was no album cover–it was just a black screen. 

Kanye also held multiple listening parties, where he previewed some of the songs in front of crowds of fans. In Chicago, he even reconstructed his childhood home. When he missed his self-imposed release date of August 6, he remained in the stadium finishing the album.

 One of the 27 tracks entitled “Jail 2” was visible on Spotify but was unable to be streamed. That track did not even appear on Apple Music. Later that same day, “Jail 2” was able to be streamed.

The first track, “Donda Chant” features Syleena Johnson, who West previously collaborated with on their 2004 hit “All Falls Down” repeatedly saying “Donda, Donda, Donda.” Although unconfirmed, it is believed to mimic the rhythm of Donda West’s heartbeat before her departure in 2007 due to surgical complications. Fans have been very critical of the track because it was an odd start and it set a weird tone. 

Fans were quick to hate one other “song” in particular: “Tell The Vision.”  The track was originally released on Pop Smoke’s posthumous album Faith. It featured Kanye West and Pusha T. It discussed their assent to the top and their changing lifestyles. However, on Kanye’s “alternative” version of Donda, there are very few audible words, and instead of a beat, there are piano chords playing in an attempt to mimic the original beat. While many fans despised the track, some saw it differently. Jade Fritzeninger ‘24 added, “I actually thought it was very interesting because it is something nobody had done before. While it is not my favorite song, there are definitely worse Kanye songs out there”

Some fan favorites include “Jail’, “Off The Grid”, “Hurricane”, “Praise G-d”, “Pure Souls”, and “No Child Left Behind”.

Some notable features include JAY-Z on “Jail”, Playboi Carti on “Off The Grid”, The Weeknd and Lil Baby on “Hurricane”, Baby Keem and Travis Scott on “Praise G-d”, Don Toliver & Kid Cudi on “Moon”, Roddy Rich on “Pure Souls”, Pop Smoke (kind of) on “Tell The Vision”, the Sunday Service Choir on “No Child Left Behind”, and DaBaby and Marilyn Manson on “Jail pt 2”. 

Fans were happy to see longtime Kanye friend and collaborator JAY-Z be featured on the album. The is their first collaboration since 2016 on Drake’s “Pop Style” in 2016, where JAY-Z only had 2 lines. Despite being the second track on the album, it serves as the first real song.

“Off The Grid” featuring Fivio Foreign and Playboi Carti peaked at number 7 on Billboard’s Hot 100. It immediately became a fan favorite due to the combination of the drill beat, Carti’s vocals and adlibs, the chemistry between the three artists as well as Fivio’s mention of God.

Donda’s fifth track “Hurricane” peaked at number 6 on Billboard’s Hot 100 and debuted in the first spot on Rolling STone’s Top 100 Songs Chart. It features both Lil Baby and the Weeknd which helped set the stage for the song’s success. If you are only going to listen to one song on Donda, it should be “Hurricane.”

“Praise God” featuring Baby Keem and Travis Scott peaked at #17 on Billboard’s Hot 100. It begins with Donda West giving a speech at the 17th Gwendolyn Brooks Writers’ Conference speaking less than one month before her death in 2007.  She wrote, ‘”Speech to the Young: Speech to the Progress-Toward’ Say to them, say to the down-keepers, the sun-slappers the self-soilers, the harmony-hushers. Even if you are not ready for the day, it cannot always be night.” The song is the trio praising God, thanking him, and bringing awareness towards his cause. 

Moon featuring Kid Cudi and Don Toliver is another fan favorite. It marks the first collaboration between Don Toliver and Kanye. It has a tranquil tone, like most collaborations between Kanye and Kid Cudi. Sophomores Zack Stein, Ashton Talebreza, Silvio Oliva Junior all agree that Kid Cudi’s feature was the best. 

Pure Souls with Roddy Rich was one of the most highly anticipated songs on Donda. It marks the first collaboration between Roddy Rich and Kanye. It has an upbeat religious/Christian undertone and is characterized by its utilization of an organ. 

The famous Sunday Service Choir that went on tour with Kanye during his “Sunday Service Tour” also made an appearance on “No Child Left Behind”. While definitely a fan favorite, it was met with criticism for having so few words and no clear meaning. Natalia Nikkhoo ‘23 commented that” No Child Left Behind is an amazing song but I wish it was longer and had more versatile lyrics instead of repeating the same few phrases.” Despite being 2 minutes and 56 seconds, the song only used 31 different words.

Kanye’s decision to include two “canceled” artists, DaBaby for alleged homophobic statements at the Rolling Loud Festival and Marilyn Manson for multiple sexual assault accusations, on “Jail pt 2” just shows his disregard for public thought, especially those in the “cancel culture” crowd. 

Overall, most fans appreciate the album, but it is almost universally agreed upon that the album did not live up to the hype.