Why Kanye’s DONDA Has Inspired Such Mixed Reactions

Kanye West’s long-awaited and highly-anticipated album DONDA finally dropped on August 29.

Photo Credit: The Guardian

Kanye has been teasing his 10th album for over a year. The album is named after and dedicated to Kanye’s late mother, Donda West. Deemed as one of the most influential and experimental artists of all time, the anticipation has had fans all over the place.

But after months of true Yeezy-style listening showcases, social media craze, and new moves in a longtime beef with Drake, it’s finally here. The album was released on 29 August.

And it’s already breaking records. 

The Release

In the US alone, DONDA pulled in over 60 million streams on Apple Music in the first 24 hours. It’s also broken Apple Music records, with 19 songs in the top 20 chart. And it sits at the top of Apple Music’s Top Albums chart in 152 countries.

Kanye also posted on Instagram that his label Universal released the album without his approval. And initially, the song “Jail 2” was not included. Some believe this is because it featured DaBaby and Marilyn Manson who are both at the centre of current controversy. However, it is now in the released album.

The Album

Photo Credit: Dazed

The wait for DONDA has been surreal. After waiting over a year, no one knew what was coming.

Leading up to its release, Kanye performed at three incredibly curated listening sessions — two at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta and one at Soldier Field in Chicago. At each of the events, he played some of the songs on the album. He also played various versions of them.

And in classic Kanye fashion, he went all in. From recreating his childhood home, to lighting himself on fire, and then re-enacting his wedding with Kim Kardashian sporting a Balenciaga gown and veil, Kanye is a master of creating hype.

The album has 27 tracks. It centres around his mother, and Kanye’s relationship with God. He continued his gospel style, building on what we heard from his previous albums like Ye and JESUS IS KING as well as the 44-year-old rapper’s Sunday Service.

Also, featured on the album are high-profile names including Kid Cudi, Roddy Rich, Playboi Carti and Ty Dolla $ign. Don Toliver and Travis Scott also appear and the song “Hurricane” alone features The Weeknd and Lil Baby alongside Ye. Even Ariana Grande’s vocals can be heard on “Donda”. In fact, the only songs Kanye goes solo on are “Believe What I Say”, “Heaven and Hell”, “Come to Life”, and “Jesus Lord, Pt. 2.”
But this is nothing new. Kanye has always taken on a directorial role on his albums featuring a plethora of names on his tracklists and also giving attention to smaller names.

Mixed Reactions

Photo Credit: The New York Times

Kanye always keeps us guessing. There was already so much global attention and speculation in the lead up to DONDA’s release. So as expected, listeners immediately reacted.

Some believe the long release over-hyped an album that was average. Among criticism was word from Soulja Boy and Chris Brown who weren’t too happy that their verses were left out of the release. Critics have even found the lyrics underwhelming, while others find them altruistic and real. Some refuse to listen to it because of their opinions of Kanye, while others don’t think it is as good as his previous work.

On the other hand, millions have also claimed “Kanye is back” playing Donda on repeat ever since its release. Even people who aren’t fans of Kanye have shown praise for the artistic nature of the work. Some fans have recalled being brought to tears. And there’s plenty calling West a genius capable of creating exciting theatre projects. One tweet even said that they felt “the atheism leave their body while listening to Donda.”

The Era of Kanye

Photo Credit: Vulture

The album and its year of mystery and hype was a successful testament to West’s mother, whose death he has blamed himself for. And this made something unique about the album that differed from the rest of his work.

And naturally, there have been opinions on everything: The DONDA Wedding, the inclusion of Manson and DaBaby, the feud with Drake, the actual composition, Kanye himself and more. So criticisms, hate, complements, love, memes and jokes have been expected.

But most in the music business have agreed there are “gems” among the album. Kanye’s refined his version of hip hop again, this time with a spiritual focus and glimpses into struggles with mental health.

So it seems people either love it or hate it. But either way, there’s no doubt that the album has been the talk of the town.

And all in all, whether you’re a fan or not, the whole DONDA era has reminded us that there’s no one quite like Ye.

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