Countdown to the Album of the Year, #6-“Donda”
Continuing with the theme of veteran rappers that have shown that they still got it this year, arguably the most polarizing artist of this generation Kanye West released his tenth studio album in Donda on August 29th.
“Donda” was one of the more intriguing albums of the year. As Kanye, who in the latter half of the last decade has portrayed himself as an increasingly eccentric personality, ramped up those gimmicks in the wake of the release of his new album.
It was initially slated to be released on July 24th and got rescheduled multiple times. Kanye, who when seen in public was a masked quiet figure and rarely had a social media presence, did not give an explanation as to why it was constantly delayed.
Thus, it resulted in mass speculation from media outlets and fans. Interest sparked and peaked for a long time because Kanye’s situation was unique to any other album that underwent a relatively mondain postponement.
One of the main stories that revolved around the album was the fact that the rapper had rented out the Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta to not only finish working on the album, but to host listening parties of the unfinished versions of it.
Giving an insight of the progression of his work, including and removing high profile, and putting on shows that always had a spectacle or newsworthy scene in them only added traction to the album.
Generating that aura of the unknown and overall unpredictability of how the album was progressing, Kanye only honed even more of a fanbase invested in it.
The juxtaposition of individuals online searching for any information they could on Donda, and then videos releasing of West remarrying his ex-wife Kim Kardashian, floating into the sky to portray himself as a god, or burning himself to be reborn as ‘Ye’ all in mass produced dramatic sets during his shows drew people into discovering what was really happening.
Unlike artists such as J. Cole, Kanye relied on spectacle and grandiosity to sell his album. The new music that fans wanted was playing at those shows and yet had not reached the headlines.
In terms of the actual album, Ye is still a talented artist who can get a vast number of features solely due to his name value in order to fabricate musical masterclasses.
Songs such as “Moon” with Kid Cudi, “Hurricane” with The Weeknd, and Jay-Z on “Jail”, were some of his best works.
Jail, which was recently nominated song of the year by the Grammys had probably the most quotable part of the album.
“Take what you want
Take what you want
Take what you want”
“Guess who’s goin’ to jail tonight?
Guess who’s goin’ to jail tonight?
Guess who’s goin’ to jail tonight?
God gon’ post my bail tonight”
When Kanye opens his song with his amount of intensity, it feels like his words hold proper weight and that energy homes in the listener’s interest.
The mixture of said blooming and thunderous songs with Kanye’s slower songs, as well as his gospel showcased all of Ye’s immense repertoire, as well as his innate ability of sequencing his songs perfectly to make the entire album feel connected throughout no matter the pace or style of the song.
However, with how simplified an intro to an album it seems to be, the context behind “Donda Chant” made it the most impactful part of it.
Stating that he dedicated the album to his late mother, Donda West, the song mimicked the sound of her last heartbeats to the sound of her name. Seemingly being Kanye’s way of keeping her memory alive and introducing the inspiration of his latest work.
Kanye albums have always delved into his mind, and are masterclasses at building a seemingly bizarre world of him dealing with his mental struggles, successes, failures, and how his warped, unique brain handles them.
Similar to “Dark Fantasy” on the opening of “My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy,” Kanye commences the album by telling the listener about the current state of his life. In that case, itwas his struggles with romances, and relationships in general, preparing them for an album filled with a multitude of his experiences, trials and tribulations in that aspect of his life.
However the beauty of this comparison to “Donda Chant” is the fact that instead of an upbeat lyrical chorus, it is very subtle but sends just as powerful of a message to the listener.
Since “Donda” was announced to release early into the summer, it has been a fascinating experience for the rapper and fans. The album seemed to have great sentimental value to West, which seems to be why he resorted to such pageantry when promoting it.
He deemed it a therapeutic experience to write this album and it seemed rewarding to finish and continuously perfect it, which is the dedication that made Kanye one of the most infamous rappers of all time.
This album showed the versatility of Kanye, and also taught fans the lesson to not rush art. Ye may have lost some mainstream interest in his album after a certain period of time the promised release date was not met. However, as an artist as well-known as him, he stood his ground and knew that millions would tune in to listen to his new project whenever it dropped. Also, that the process of taking his time would result in a timeless classic, and in decades into the future no one would remember the extra two months it took to release.
Thus, opting to take his time to produce something that not only the public, but he himself could be proud of. Art is subjective, and as much as Kanye’s antics may drive people away, he is one of the best storytellers to ever be involved in the music industry and that was highlighted by all his abilities to reach out and express his thoughts in a manner he would classify as excellence.
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