With an album lasting an hour and 47 minutes, with no less than 27 songs (although the last four are actually bonus tracks in alternate versions), there is a lot to digest here … admittedly more than that. which can be properly spat out. as a reaction to Day 1. What is immediately clear is the inadequacy of the title to sum up West’s obsessions here. He returns just often enough to his beloved late mother to almost plausibly claim concept album status, but she has to share about equal space on his 2021 mantle of obsessions with Jesus, Kim Kardashian, himself and, naturally, Drake, who seems to haunt our hero more than Satan ever could. (In response to the question “What would Jesus do?” We have a pretty clear answer: he would suddenly rush to his album to beat the devil’s album.)
On a purely musical level, “Donda” is almost unassailable; all the time spent waiting for its release was wasted time. It would be hard to claim that an album that lasts nearly two hours exactly flies par, but until it gets to those last four completely redundant remixes, it’s a collection that’s never set to run out of welcome, alternating brooding and banging with a keen sense of dynamics. This goes for how the gospel keys are more subtly integrated than in “Jesus Is King”, and how it can instantly go from “24” augmented by the Sunday choir to completely mechanical “Remote Control” and others. fashionable working moments. -hop portends for all it’s worth in numbers like “Heaven and Hell” and then come up with something as joyful as his terrific collaboration with Roddy Ricch, “Pure Souls,” one of the few songs on the album who uses an organ not for a gospel effect.
“Believe What I Say” has the kind of bassline that immediately makes it a great party song, although lines like “Go and get your best avocado” and “Little baby Jesus don’t laugh, no” may not. suit anyone’s idea of club fodder. And he can come out with a pleasant genre surprise like “Jail”, a very melodic pop-alt-rock song with powerful chords and anthemic chorus lines that someone like Imagine Dragons could give their dragon eyes to teeth for. .
Let’s say here that we’re talking about the “Jail” that occurs near the beginning of the album and not the “Jail Pt. 2 ″ that comes near the end, with a remix that features Marilyn Manson and DaBaby, probably them. two most despised figures in music in 2021 so far, for the allegations and prosecutions of rape and sexual assault of the former rocker and the latter of the rapper’s less and less repentant homophobia. Conceptually it may make sense, in West’s biblically informed worldview – as well as a completely lagging worldview – to write a song that deals with original sin and regression, sort of. , then to bring in two characters who could certainly compete with the apostle Paul as “the worst of all sinners”. But conceptual pride aside … In a year where there are so many pressing hot topics that someone who would like to focus on the zeitgeist could have written, what do we say about this album that the The only moments on “Donda” that speak directly to Where We Are Now in 2021 are the verses in which DaBaby gets on the defensive about his bashing of gays and being ashamed of AIDS? “That food you took from my table / You know who feeds my daughters, eh?” DaBaby asks, angrily calling on her LGBTQ critics to take pity on her diminished income before asserting, “The only thing I did to you / Was always keep it real and true.”
But then again, the conflict between Christian humility and outright pride is recurrent on the album, although West more often than not sees pride as a characteristic, not a flaw. He is known to be a subscriber to the so-called prosperity gospel that has been rampant for decades in some circles of Pentecostalism – the spirit of Joel Osteen is not absent here – resulting in almost comical juxtapositions. Guest rapper Styles of the Lox gets to the heart of this in a nursery rhyme about the epic ‘Jesus Lord’ remix that ends the album: cut gray / Maybe the Lykan or a mansion in the Seychelles. (The expletive is removed from the album itself; all swear words, including the N word, have been removed, making the “clean” version the only version.) In “Heaven and Hell,” it’s West himself who quickly jumps from “Us on Bezos, we get wages / trips to Lagos, we connect like Lego” to “Burn fake idols, followers of Jesus” literally without having time to skip a heartbeat .
And West is certainly not looking to contact Drake to attend the Sunday service. His nemesis Canuck is never mentioned by name, of course, but he’s called in spirit quite often, ‘Stand back from my release / Why can’t losers ever lose in peace,’ West warns in ” Junya ”(if not a tribute to Junya Watanabe, the Japanese designer), and in“ Ok Ok ”, it’s“ You want to come in and play with the GOAT – bow, ”he commands. It is probably not at the Father’s throne but, as Jay-Z says in his verse on “Jail”, “the return of the Throne / Hova and Yeezus, like Moses and Jesus”. Well, you can’t spell Yahweh without YE.
Suffice it to say that even though “Jesus Is King” won an award from the Gospel Music Association, “Donda”, for all of his frequent divine concerns, probably won’t be, even though his belief system may indeed. still overlap that of his evangelical brethren. Part of it has to do with the artists featured, who aren’t quite as adherent to the faith as West continues to be. Take Lil Yachty, whose “Ok Ok” rap boasts, “Just took her up the mountain with my finger,” a nice addition to the sneaky reference to oral sex in “Believe What I Say”. Anyone who feared, as Drake recently did with his tongue seemingly to his cheek, that West would never return to ‘secular’ music can rest here – he did, although the 25-plus guests of the album sometimes go a little further than the star. West is into something like Bob Dylan was, perhaps, when he followed two strictly evangelical albums with the more divided concerns of the “Shot of Love” transition. On “Donda,” West isn’t afraid to take a lot of irreverent shots.
But some of the guests certainly agree with the mission, like the former Weeknd who wasn’t too sacred, who brings out an unknown gospel side on “Hurricane” with a chorus as ineffable as any of it. his albums’ which states, “Finally free, I found the God in me / And I want you to see, I can walk on water. (A statement of religious devotion, or a preview of the upcoming production issue of The Weeknd’s VMAs?) Also of note, West isn’t so tied to a specifically Christian belief that he doesn’t want to give references the same amount of time. Islamic and others that come from the album of the album. two Jays: Jay-Z (who suggests “pray five times a day” on “Jail”) and, much longer, from Jay Electronica (“My bars are like the pyramid temples of Pacal Votan / As safe as the DOJ’s confirmed The Wheel of Ezekiel / I could change the world like Yacub with two pieces of steel ”- well, of course).
At the risk of sacrilege, “Kim Is King” could be a subtitle for parts of the album that tease our understanding of what their fractured relationship was, is and can be… in front of millions of viewers streaming Thursday night in Chicago. “Lord I Need You” starts out as a gospel song, then quickly becomes a confessional on his marriage… possibly written earlier, when it wasn’t yet to the point of happy legal deposit for me lately, my darling ”, he sings, a little belatedly), or perhaps in the hope of a current reconciliation, based either on reality or on us intrigues. “But you came here to show that you’re still in love with me,” he says, in a line torn from the Friday morning headlines, apparently.
“Lord I Need You” isn’t the only ADHD song on the album that starts off as a devotional hymn and then goes in a whole different direction. The same goes for “Jesus Lord,” which begins with a Christian debut with West, then goes into a different kind of mystique with Jay Electronica, and ultimately ends, movingly but incongruously, with a coda spoken by the son. by Larry Hoover, one of the jailed characters West went to plead with then-President Trump in 2018. These are three perfectly good songs in one – but the kind of subject-changing thing that sometimes gets “Donda” feels like it includes 81 songs, not 27.
West stays focused for at least a full song, though, and that’s possibly the best thing he’s ever done – it’s definitely the most beautiful: “Come to Life,” which completely lets down the pride – yes it can – with a focus on depression and humility, accompanied by cascading, layering pianos and guitar chords straight out of a pure pop album… a big one. West will probably never sing a less proud verse in her life than, “Brought Northie a gift, all she wants is Nikes / It’s not about me, God is still alive so I’m free. When the world’s most famous Adidas guy can sing that, you can believe in a holy transformation.
On “God Breathed”, one of the best songs, the album’s guest MYP, singer Vory, replaces West when he sings: “They hearts are filled with greed / Okay, now they want the old me. The point is, for the worse and (mostly) the best, we have the old west on “Donda”. Sunday service is present and accommodated, but we are at Friday night service when it comes down to self-glorifying couplets that sin on the side of silliness, if not sin, like, “Not Wakanda but Wakanda is kinda like what we’re fighting to do / and who’s gonna do it? Kan ‘, duh. It’s kind of comfort food, really, to have her so firmly in your bragging zone… and that doesn’t necessarily negate the hosts.