Welcome to “New Music with Nick”. In this column, I will be reviewing some of the most notable album releases in various genres, with a focus on hip-hop, R&B and pop music. Join me as we explore the ever-changing landscape of the streaming age.
Kanye West: “Donda“ (August 29, 2021)
One of hip-hop’s greatest figures, Kanye West, is back with the highly anticipated “Donda”, a powerful and sentimental collection. Dedicated to Kanye’s late mother, Donda West, who died in 2007, Kanye’s tenth studio album is one of the most personal and moving endeavors of his career.
Kanye’s mother was very important to his personal development and his life as a whole, a fact that he has made public on several occasions. Donda West’s death greatly affected Kanye’s life and mental health, taking him on a journey of growth, reflection and self-discovery. “Donda” is a key part of Kanye’s journey towards accepting life without his beloved mother.
As controversial as he may be, Kanye has made amazing music and is responsible for some of the most iconic moments in hip-hop history. His impact and legendary status is undeniable, and his latest efforts help him continue to establish himself as one of the greatest musical artists of all time.
As is common with Kanye, “Donda” showcased his skills as the ultimate curator. While the album has a few flaws, such as unnecessary songs and spots of poor structuring, the good outweighs the bad. Bringing together the best possible producers and rappers, the tracklist serves as a timestamp of hip-hop news. There are a handful of truly awe-inspiring moments, and their extravagance will stand the test of time as iconic moments in his discography.
The album’s first full track, “Jail” brings the “return of the throne” and the reunion of an iconic duo – Jay-Z brings a phenomenal and emotional verse to make the song a standout hip-hop moment. The Weeknd and Lil Baby join Kanye to create “Hurricane”, another notable song from the album and from Kanye’s entire career. The song’s chorus couldn’t have been better executed, with The Weeknd’s vocals and heavenly touch setting the perfect tone. Lil Baby comes up with an amazing verse, well written and perfectly delivered, followed by a verse from Kanye which was one of the best in the whole project. There are also a few times the guest on a track steals the show – in “Praise God” Baby Keem absolutely takes over. Kanye and Travis Scott contribute to the track, but Keem’s long verse absolutely overshadows the rest of the song and becomes one of the highlights of the entire album. Energy and delivery couldn’t have been better. “Off The Grid” includes an electric and atmospheric beat, which sets the stage for an unreal Fivio Foreign feature, but on it Ye holds up with his biggest rap since “The Life of Pablo”.
Lauryn Hill’s samples will always be amazing and “Believe What I Say” completely lives up to expectations, backed by West’s powerful production skills. Kid Cudi and Don Tolliver make the perfect duo for “Moon”, a slow, peaceful and uplifting hymn in the middle of the tracklist. On “Jesus Lord,” Jay Electronica brings his A-game with his pen, complementing Kanye’s moving verse with a miraculous, ridiculously complex and lyrically complex verse. “Pure Souls” gives Roddy Ricch the chance to shine with a stellar vocal performance. Finally, “Lord I Need You” and “Come To Life” help close the tracklist with deeply moving and thoughtful efforts, allowing Kanye to authentically express his recent personal problems and triumphs.
This album is by no means perfect. “Donda” has structural elements that have very little meaning. The “second parts” of the songs were unnecessary, only one of them being better than its “part one” version (“Junya”). Another handful of tracks ranged from very bad to mediocre and added little: “Tell The Vision” (the decision to include this one on the album blows my mind – I have no idea what Kanye was thinking. here) “God Breathed”, “Ok Ok”, “New Again” and “Heaven and Hell”. Without some of these tracks, the album would have been a work of better quality and of a more appropriate duration.
Despite some of its flaws, “Donda” is a wonderful collection from an all-time musical legend. A few of the tracks truly stand out as the best of Kanye’s career. For me, “Donda” was almost the best he could have been, given the stage Kanye is at in his career as an artist and person. After the musical trough of his career on “Jesus Is King”, it was great to see him finally return to his usual levels of musical greatness. His production never went down in quality, and it was certainly amazing from start to finish on this record. His lyrical ability has never been his main strength, but he still provides impressive calligraphy at times and heartfelt deliveries throughout. The production and the emotional power, as well as the personal and moving stories help to make this album a truly formidable work and a beautiful compilation.
Favorite songs: “Hurricane”, “Off-grid”, “Prison”, “Praise be to God”, “Lord Jesus”, “Believe what I say”, “Moon”, “Junya pt. 2”, “Lord, I need from you “,” Pure Souls “,” Remote control “
Album rating: 83/100
Check out this Spotify playlist and enjoy following it along with some of my favorite songs from 2021 as the year goes on!
Editor’s Note: This article is a review and includes subjective opinions, thoughts, and reviews.