Kanye West’s “Donda” sets Internet in flames

This story was originally published in the first edition of The Lion’s Tale (October 7th, 2021).

Donda was unique. The loss of a loved one is tragic, and Kanye West tried his hardest to reflect this in his latest album. He didn’t know how much his life would change in November 2007 when his mother, Donda West, passed away due to heart failure. Kanye would be challenged to write an album that could live up not only to his name but his mother’s. Fourteen years after her passing, Kanye would finally release his 10th studio album, Donda, arguably one of his most challenging and experimental pieces. However, the delivery of this album wasn’t smooth sailing, and it’s no secret the trouble it went through to be produced.

First news of Donda came from Dr. Dre in November 2019, just a month after Kanye’s previous album, Jesus is King, dropped. Dr. Dre stated that he had begun work on a project that was known at the time as “Jesus is King pt. II.” This started a trend of featured artists on the project dropping hints on what Kanye was doing, and made the hype around this art piece grow exponentially; however, a lot of controversy surrounding the album started emerging. Kanye is notorious for always putting on
big shows, and his showing parties were no exception. The biggest one was, of course, his third and fi nal showing for Donda. The set for the showing was at Soldier Field, Chicago, the city Kanye grew up in. The set consisted of a replica of his old house in Chicago, with DaBaby and Marilyn Manson invited. This caused an out-roar due to the controversy surrounding these artists, with DaBaby making homophobic remarks at a recent concert and Manson having several charges of sexual misconduct. In this showing Kanye was, quite literally, on fire for his performance, for what seemed to be no reason.

Kanye also bounced around from three separate studios, ending at the Mercedes-Benz stadium in Atlanta. Later on, a release date was finally announced, August 6, along with pre-orders Many conflicts occurred during the release, postponing it to August 29. After being released, Kanye put out an official statement on his Instagram, explaining that his parent label company – Universal Music Group – had released the album against his own will, and even cut certain songs from the album. The most known of these songs was “Jail, Pt. 2,” a continuation to an earlier song in the album. What’s the big deal about this album, and why was it so shifty in the making?

With Donda being such a landmark, he needed to make sure that this album would be like nothing else, which wouldn’t be easy. As stated as before, the album Donda is meant to captivate the feeling of loss, but more especially what loved ones will do in response to someone passing. Kanye took the unique sense of grief and put it through a kaleidoscope to reveal several perspectives of loss, each special but equally important. There will never be a true definitive way to tell someone just how important Kanye’s mom was to him, there will never be a chance for Kanye to see his family after passing.

The trouble this album went through to be released ironically reflects Kanye’s troubles in expressing his emotions about his mother. What rings louder than Donda’s burning controversy is the message this album attempts to display: the complexity of loss.