By Christian Kariuki | Guest Contributor
“Donda, Donda, Donda, Donda, Donda …”The 52 seconds of opening words of arguably the most anticipated hip-hop album of all time serve as a somber reminder about what 21-time Grammy Award-winning artist, Kanye West, made this project for in the first place: a eulogy for his late mother.
In November 2007, the death of professor Donda West changed West from a cheerful, shutter shade-wearing rapper to the hurt and troubled fashion icon we all know today.
Before the album was open for the public to hear, we already knew that this project would be unlike anything else from West. By far his longest album, in terms of tracklist and runtime, there is so much that has happened to West since the release of his 2019 gospel album, “Jesus is King.” West has gone through mental institutions, becoming hip-hop’s second billionaire and most notably, his divorce from Kim Kardashian.
Through 26 songs we hear the heartaches, the celebrations, the joy and the pain as if West is asking his late mother for help during these troubling times in his life.
Musically, this album is still very unique compared to other West albums. West has never been a stranger to setting himself apart with genius production, but the list of features that he collected for this album seems to be a high point for most listeners, bringing in a mix of new school sounding artists such as Playboi Carti, Fivio Foreign, Roddy Rich and seasoned Gen X lyricists such as Griselda and Jay Electronica.
As West speaks on his struggles within his family, the mourning of his late mother and his faith, it is nice to hear the guest artists be equally vulnerable, which is something we don’t normally get to hear from them.
As for the buildup of the album, this is where “Donda” sets itself apart from any other project in music history. Over three years of speculation on this album, West did not do any advertising for the album outside of his own Instagram page and listening parties. The listening parties were unlike anything seen before. As mentioned before, West is a new billionaire, which allowed him to use the Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta for his first two pre-album release listening parties.
After the initial event, fans assumed that West was set to drop the album that night, but anyone who has been listening to West for years can tell you to never expect a Kanye album to be released until it’s already downloaded on your phone.
After moving into the Mercedes-Benz Stadium and reportedly paying a hefty rental fee of $150,000 per day for weeks, West held the second listening party. The album again did not drop until after the third listening event in his hometown of Chicago.
Overall, I dare say this album is a masterpiece. From heart-warming tracks such as “Moon,” bittersweet melodies like “24” and aggressive rants such as “Off the Grid,” West again has shown us why he is the man he is today, despite what is said about him.