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Breaking down the Album ‘Donda’ by ‘Kanye West’

Released: 2021

Label: Getting Out Our Dreams II, LLC / Def Jam Recordings

Featuring: André 3000

Flashing lights, Jesus walks, and through the wire we go, diving headfirst into the sonic landscape of ‘Donda.’ Named as a tender tribute to his mother, Kanye West’s tenth studio album is nothing short of a hip-hop symphony. Released on August 29th, 2021 by Getting Out Our Dreams II, LLC / Def Jam Recordings, the album stitches together fragments of Kanye’s life, his dreams, fears, and faith into a tapestry of tracks that push the boundaries of music.

The album opens with the ‘Donda Chant’, a spiritual invocation of Donda West’s presence, setting a soul-stirring tone for an album that grapples with loss, faith, and redemption. Songs like ‘Hurricane’ and ‘Moon’ allow listeners to wade deeper into Kanye’s mind, unearthing profound narratives on finding peace amidst chaos and the human quest for connection. ‘Life Of The Party,’ a track featuring the vocal brilliance of André 3000, serves as a heartfelt letter to Donda West, revealing vulnerabilities and confessions that are both poignant and relatable.

Songs like ‘Off The Grid’ and ‘Jail’ offer narratives of breaking free from societal norms and an exploration of fame, faith, and accountability. Through ‘Praise God,’ we encounter a narrative of facing darkness head-on, armed with faith as the catalyst for transformation. Meanwhile, tracks like ‘Come to Life’ and ‘Believe What I Say’ provide candid confessions and a plea for divine intervention, merging introspection with a gospel-tinged appeal.

Songs like ‘No Child Left Behind’ and ‘Up From The Ashes’ serve as testaments to West’s journey through grief and a reliance on a higher power for survival. With ‘Remote Control Pt 2,’ ‘God Breathed,’ and ‘Lord I Need You,’ we get a sense of Kanye’s eclectic approach to music-making, highlighting the intricate balance between personal agency, self-reliance, and faith.

’24’ serves as a testament to his journey through grief, struggles, and ultimately, finding solace in divine assurance. Through tracks like ‘Junya,’ ‘Never Abandon Your Family,’ and ‘Donda,’ Kanye pays homage to his

1 Donda Chant

This repetitious chant embodies more than just words; it’s an invocation, a spiritual summoning of Donda West’s essence, setting the tone for an album that grapples with loss, faith, and redemption. There’s no standout line here—instead, the power lies in the cumulative effect of hearing “Donda” repeated, each utterance layering meaning and emotion, a wave of tribute to the unbreakable bond between mother and son.

2 Hurricane

In a standout line, Kanye reflects on the cost of his actions and the impacts of fame: “I was up for sale, But I couldn’t tell. God made it rain, the devil made it hell.” This lyric starkly juxtaposes divine intervention with the hellish consequences of his decisions, highlighting a central theme of seeking salvation amidst chaos. It’s a profound narrative on the fight to find peace and righteousness in a storm of one’s own making, underpinned by the hopeful refrain, “I know you won’t let me drown,” signifying a reliance on a higher power for guidance and protection.

3 Moon

It’s a sonnet to isolation and the human quest for connection, where Kanye contemplates the vast emotional landscape stretched out beneath the night sky. “Never forget all the memories / Sitting, I sip out my cup / Thinking I should be a better me” stands as a poignant confession in a sea of introspection, encapsulating the struggle between reminiscence and the pursuit of growth. This track, with its minimalist approach, invites listeners into a reflective state, pondering over their personal moons they yearn to reach, making it a universal soliloquy on the human condition.

4 Life Of The Party

Features: André 3000

André’s verse is a heartfelt letter to Kanye’s late mother, Donda West, revealing his vulnerability and confessions in a way that’s both poignant and relatable. A standout line that hits hard is, “I’m startin’ to believe ain’t no such thing as Heaven’s trumpets, No after-over, this is it, done.” This line embodies the essence of the song—navigating the intricacies of life, death, and everything in between, underpinned by a longing for connection and understanding beyond the veil.

5 Off The Grid

Kanye, alongside Playboi Carti and Fivio Foreign, reflects on breaking free from societal norms to carve out a future for their offspring, emphasizing self-sufficiency and spiritual grounding. The track stands out for its raw energy and bold declarations of breaking away from the past to forge a distinct path for future generations. A standout line that encapsulates its essence is, “Everything we did for the crib, everything we did, how we live, all this smoke got a scent, all that smoke, heaven sent.” This line not only highlights the struggle and hustle but also acknowledges divine guidance in their journey off the grid.

6 Jail

The track is a potent mix of defiance and vulnerability, underscored by the standout line, “God in my cell, that’s my celly / Made in the image of God, that’s a selfie,” blurring the lines between divinity and humanity. With Jay-Z’s verse hinting at a potential Watch the Throne reunion, the song becomes an arena of reflection on fame, faith, and accountability, encapsulated by the recurring, haunting query, “Guess who’s going to jail tonight?”

7 Praise God

It weaves the narrative of facing darkness head-on, armed with faith as the catalyst for transformation. “We gon’ praise our way out the grave, dawg / Living, speaking, praise God /Walking out the graveyard back to life,” stands as a hard-hitting testament to resiliency. This line isn’t just a verse; it’s a declaration of West’s unyielding resolve to transcend trials through the power of praise and belief. It prompts a reflection on the journey from darkness to light, amplifying the notion that amidst life’s tumult, there’s a divine plan unfolding, driven by faith and unwavering determination.

8 Come to Life

Kanye reflects on personal lows and the longing for a higher state of being, merging his trials with a gospel-tinged plea for divine intervention. The interplay of personal strife and spiritual aspiration makes the track a vulnerable, yet uplifting piece. A standout line that hits hard is, “Night is always darkest ‘fore the dawn / Gotta make my mark ‘fore I’m gone,” encapsulating the hope that springs from despair and the desire to leave a lasting legacy.

9 Believe What I Say

Through a vibrant blend of earnest lyricism and compelling soundscape, Kanye contemplates the balance between vulnerability and strength. With lines like, “Don’t let, don’t let the lifestyle drag you down,” he sends a powerful message about staying grounded amidst chaos. The track stands out as a candid reflection, urging listeners to preserve their essence and not lose sight of love, despite the distractions of fame and public life. Kanye’s narrative is as much a self-reminder as a universal call to resilience and authenticity.

10 No Child Left Behind

The repetition of “No child left behind” serves as both a mantra and a promise, emphasizing the potential within every individual, regardless of their struggles. The standout line, “He’s done miracles on me,” echoes throughout the song as a powerful affirmation of personal transformation and divine intervention. West’s lyrics underscore a journey of self-reliance, spiritual reliance, and the miracles that can occur when one’s back is against the wall yet chooses to “always count on God.”

11 Up From The Ashes

With lines like “Found a Redeemer, how I survive,” Kanye reflects on his personal transformation and reliance on a higher power for survival. The song encapsulates a narrative of healing and victory, underscored by the acknowledgment of human frailty and the embrace of divine guidance. It’s a powerful narrative that champions the triumph of spirit over adversity, resonating with anyone seeking light in dark times.

12 Remote Control pt 2

The track is peppered with references to pop culture, luxury, and a touch of whimsy, showcasing West’s eclectic approach to music-making. A standout line, “Got it on remote control, like a CEO, I thought you should know,” encapsulates the duality of having command over one’s destiny while acknowledging a greater force at play. The inclusion of the bizarre Glob-glo-gab-galab verse adds a surreal layer, emphasizing the unpredictable nature of Kanye’s artistic vision.

13 God Breathed

West asserts his divine inspiration and guidance through repetitious affirmations like “I know God breathed on this,” melding his personal revelations with a universal plea for recognition of a higher power’s influence. The track’s gravity is underscored by lines that explore themes of trust, divine intervention, and the eternal struggle between worldly temptations and spiritual fulfillment. A standout line, “Devil on my shoulders, I can’t let him breathe,” encapsulates the dichotomy of human existence and the pursuit of righteousness amidst trials.

14 Lord I Need You

The lyrics navigate through marriage, the struggles of maintaining a relationship under the public eye, and ultimately a plea for spiritual guidance and reconciliation. A hard-hitting line, “Would you shut up? I can’t hear myself drink,” vividly captures the chaotic nature of his private life, juxtaposed with a longing for peace and understanding from both his partner and a higher power. In true Kanye fashion, the song merges personal confession with cultural references, crafting a narrative that’s as much about him as it is about the collective experience of seeking solace and redemption.

15 24

This track serves as a testament to West’s journey through grief, struggles, and ultimately, finding solace in divine assurance. With the standout line, “God’s not finished, God’s not finished,” repeated like a mantra, West emphasizes an ongoing process of healing and redemption. It’s a powerful reminder that, in the face of adversity, renewal and hope are always within reach. This line encapsulates the song’s essence of perpetual faith and the belief that it’s never too late for a turnaround.

16 Junya

Through its repetitive mantra, Kanye celebrates his successes and lifestyle, marked by designer brands and achievements, while also dropping nods to his roots and resilience. Among the hard-hitting lines, “Better find God ‘fore He find me” stands out, encapsulating Kanye’s journey of self-discovery, faith, and the constant battle between worldly desires and spiritual fulfillment. This line, like much of the song, reflects Kanye’s complex relationship with fame, success, and spirituality.

17 Never Abandon Your Family

This emotional exodus highlights how choices fueled by ‘twisted fantasy’ can lead to one’s alienation from their loved ones, echoing the anguish of not just the artist but of those left in the wake of his decisions. The repeated mantra, “no matter what, you never abandon your family,” juxtaposed with the visceral imagery of a child’s plea – “Daddy, how could you leave? Daddy, how could you leave?” – frames a narrative of regret and a call for redemption, reverberating the consequences of broken promises and the void they leave behind.

18 Donda

The track, a clear nod to his late mother, Donda West, transmutes pain into a celebration of legacy and spiritual fortitude. Anchored by Donda’s own voice, the song oscillates between vulnerability and strength, encapsulating Kanye’s journey through grief and his continued quest for understanding within the specter of fame. A standout line, “And why Kanye ain’t scared?” encapsulates the defiance and resilience inherited from his mother, presenting a narrative that’s both intimate and expansive, underscoring Kanye’s reverence for his roots and his relentless pursuit of greatness.

19 Keep My Spirit Alive

The track resonates with themes of redemption and divine protection, as Kanye and featured artists weave tales of personal trials, tribulations, and triumphs. A standout line, “No weapon formed against me ’cause I’m covered in the blood,” encapsulates the song’s essence, highlighting a deep reliance on faith to navigate life’s battles. Here, West doesn’t just rap; he preaches, laying down a narrative of overcoming adversity with the Lord by his side and a spirit that refuses to be extinguished.

20 Jesus Lord pt 2

Kanye West, alongside the lyrical genius of Jay Electronica and a heartfelt message from Larry Hoover Jr., dives deep into the harsh realities faced by many, touching on themes of loss, addiction, and the systemic issues entangling communities. A standout line, “Man, it’s hard to be an angel when you surrounded by demons,” encapsulates the song’s essence, offering a glimpse into the internal battles and external pressures that shape our experiences. This track serves as a profound reflection on faith, forgiveness, and the human condition, making it a poignant addition to the ‘Donda’ album and Kanye’s discography.

21 Heaven and Hell

Its gripping narrative highlights societal inequalities — children growing, men working or stealing, a universal scramble for sustenance. Meanwhile, West critiques the facade of fame and materialism, advocating for spiritual redemption and a return to authentic values. His assertive proclamation, “This that level, make devils pray, now,” embodies a powerful defiance against evil, emphasizing a collective yearning for divine intervention in tumultuous times. Through poignant lyricism, Kanye delivers a sermon on resilience, faith, and the potential for salvation amidst chaos.

22 Remote Control

West’s lyrics traverse through themes of fame, control, and divine intervention, encapsulated in the refrain “Got it on remote control, like a CEO, I thought you should know.” It’s here where Ye compares his influence and command over his life and career to that of a chief executive, while also acknowledging a higher power at play, suggesting an intricate balance between personal agency and faith. The standout line, “God just grabbed my hand, had a bigger plan,” poignantly ties the personal to the spiritual, offering a glimpse into West’s often complex view of destiny and control.

23 Tell The Vision

The repetition of “N-, we made it” serves as both a declaration and a celebration, acknowledging the collective effort and personal sacrifice. The stark transition from “50-cent cake” to “Philippe’s for the steak” not only highlights the financial ascent but also underlines a drastic shift in lifestyle and mindset. The lyrics, “Thank God that I made it” resonates deeply, emphasizing gratitude amidst triumph. It’s a raw narrative of triumph over adversity, imbued with the spirit of resilience and gratitude.

24 Jonah

It’s a poignant reminder of the battles fought in solitude, with lines that hit like “I hope you’re here when I need the demons to be gone,” reflecting a universal plea for support in dark times. The song’s lyrical journey through personal loss, the quest for peace amidst chaos, and the unspoken bond of shared grief resonates deeply, underscoring the complexity of human connections and the solace found in music. The mention of losing a brother while being millionaires highlights the stark reality that success and wealth cannot shield one from the pain of loss, making “Jonah” a soul-stirring anthem for anyone grappling with their own battles.

25 Pure Souls

Reflecting a raw and introspective Kanye, the song dissects the allure of fame against the sanctity of one’s soul, intertwining with Roddy Ricch’s reflections on his ascent. A standout line, “Personal worth is not what a person is worth,” encapsulates the song’s essence, challenging the materialistic measurements of success and advocating for a deeper, more spiritual fulfillment. This track weaves together the threads of human experiences with the divine, urging listeners to see beyond the superficial.

26 Ok Ok

With lines like “It’s been plenty times you closed the door on me / That s- really show me how much you say you a bro to me,” Kanye dissects the facade of loyalty, revealing the pain of being backstabbed by those he considered close. The raw honesty in his lyrics, especially when he declares, “Most of these n- ain’t real, they don’t wanna see me winnin’,” strikes a chord, resonating with anyone who’s felt the sting of fake friendships and unearned hatred. Kanye’s mix of vulnerability and defiance serves as a rallying cry for staying true in a world that often rewards the opposite.

27 New Again

The track oscillates between candid confessions of past indulgences and a fervent plea for redemption, encapsulated by the repeated mantra, “Make me new again.” A standout line, “Never let nobody curve me that don’t deserve me,” speaks to a regained sense of self-worth and the determination to rise above past transgressions and misjudgments. Through this narrative, Kanye portrays a journey of self-reflection, forgiveness, and the quest for spiritual solace amidst the chaos of fame and personal struggles.

28 Jesus Lord

Kanye’s raw, confessional bars couple with a poignant narrative from Larry Hoover Jr., painting a vivid picture of struggle, loss, and the quest for redemption. A standout line that encapsulates the essence of the track is, “Suicidal thoughts got you wonderin’ what’s up there,” unraveling the complexity of despair and the yearning for a semblance of hope or escape. The song doesn’t shy away from addressing systemic issues, making it a haunting reminder of the interplay between personal demons and external injustices. Through “Jesus Lord,” Kanye ventures into a spiritual dialogue, seeking solace and understanding in a world rife with pain.

29 Ok Ok pt 2

He throws down lines about backstabbing and the superficial nature of relationships in the limelight, all while asserting his untouchable status in the game. A standout line, “You wanna come in and play with the G.O.A.T. (baow),” captures the essence of Kanye’s defiance and self-assured dominance. The track oscillates between reflective dissections of disloyalty and asserting Kanye’s place atop the hip-hop hierarchy, merging raw emotion with his trademark braggadocio. The guest verses echo this sentiment, amplifying the song’s narrative of trust, betrayal, and ultimate self-reliance in the face of adversity.

30 Junya pt 2

This track, oscillating between boasting about material achievements and pondering their significance, underlines Kanye’s complex relationship with fame and success. “I was created in the image of God” stands out, encapsulating Kanye’s self-perception, his divine purpose, and perhaps, his struggles with ego and humility amidst the trappings of fame.

31 Jail pt 2

Vocalizing the struggles of being misunderstood and vilified, Kanye opens up about the societal and personal challenges that lead to cycles of incarceration. A standout moment, “Guess who’s goin’ to jail tonight? God gon’ post my bail tonight,” epitomizes the song’s blend of vulnerability and unwavering faith. Through echoing chants and introspective verses, the track navigates the complexities of navigating life’s hardships while holding onto a belief in divine intervention and self-reclamation.

32 Keep My Spirit Alive pt 2

Kanye West, alongside his collaborators, weaves a narrative of overcoming trials through divine intervention and sheer willpower. A standout line, “You can take it all, but the Lord on my side, The spirit won’t die,” encapsulates the song’s essence—no matter the obstacles, with faith, the spirit remains unbroken. It’s a declaration of spiritual invincibility, emphasizing that life’s battles are won through faith and strategy rather than succumbing to despair.

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