After numerous delays, Kanye West's tenth studio album, Donda, arrives through GOOD Music and is distributed by Def Jam Recordings. The album is named after West's late mother, Donda West. This latest album features 26 songs and clocks in at a massive 1 hour and 48 minutes. Not to mention, the album has more than twenty guest appearances as well. They are all a mixture of musicians, including R&B singers such as Syleena Johnson, The Weekend, and The World Famous Tony Williams.
Naturally, Kanye finds time to include artists on his label as Kid Cudi, Pusha T, and even the Sunday Service Choir make an appearance. While Kanye's contemporaries, Jay-Z, The Lox, and Jay Electronica also show up. The most surprising artist on the project for me though, was Marilyn Manson, in addition to all of the newer artists, whom I can't name any song by, that make an appearance. These artists include Francis and the Lights, Don Toliver, Lil Baby, Rooga, Baby Keem, Lil Yachty, Playboi Carti, Lil Durk, Vory, Five Foreign, Young Thug, 070 Shake, Roddy Ricch, Conway the Machine, KayCyy, Westside Gunn and the late Pop Smoke.
Donda opens with "Donda Chant" (featuring Syleena Johnson). It's a nice setup for the album, and any time I can hear the voice of Mrs. Johnson, I'm happy. We then move into "Jail" (featuring Francis & the Lights and Jay-Z) which features a decent verse from the Jigga man. From there, Donda becomes a mixed bag of Kanyeisms. Some of the results are good such as "24" (featuring Sunday Service Choir), "Donda" (featuring Ariana Grande and Tony Williams), and "Jesus Lord" (featuring Jay Electronica and Swizz Beatz).
Quite honestly, the main issue I had with the album is that many of the songs started to sound the same, with the production and the content. Other songs such as "Junya," "New Again," "Jonah," and "Remote Control" just didn't hit the mark for me. Now, I will give Kanye credit for attempting to guide these younger artists in a more positive direction. I also commend Kanye for sharing his conversation with the son of Larry Hoover.
Donda only features four songs without a guest appearance, and perhaps the wise move for YE would've been to release his latest as a separate EP. One EP focusing on YE as a solo artist, an EP with the younger artists, and one with the industry veterans. Going that route may have made the project easier to digest for the masses. Listening to Donda in one sitting was a huge chore.
An album with this many songs and this massive size guest list is an enormous undertaking for any artist. However, this is Kanye Omari West, and if anyone can make this work for his diehard fans, it's Mr. West. In my opinion, the album isn't a classic, nor is it a return to form for YE nor a total failure. Instead, what I took from Donda is that Kanye, the man, is finally coming to terms with his mother's passing and releasing all of the pain he had in his heart through music.
Regardless of my review, Kanye has a loyal fan base that will make Donda a streaming success.
Final Grade: C-
Donda is available now on all streaming plaftorms