Donda: A Love Letter to Mom

Donda: A Love Letter to Mom

Arty Graham, Writer

After emerging from the Mercedes Benz stadium in Atlanta, Georgia, the hermit Kanye West released his title album Donda, which has been dedicated to his mother, Donda West, and his family. On this 28 track album, we explore a plethora of different artistic pieces, ranging from his introduction track Donda Chant, which repeats the name Donda a total of 60 times. Donda is by far one of Kanye’s most experimental albums to date. The fact that the album has no clear order nor “traditional” structure, mirrors that of the chaotic emotions that Kanye is known to express. During his initial listening party in the Mercedes Benz stadium, Kanye broke down, claiming that he was “losing” his family; this album pays homage to that severity and intensity of emotion that is evocative of grieving and or loss. Some notable tracks on the album include: Jail, Off the Grid, Hurricane, Moon and Donda. Kanye later isolated himself within the stadium, giving him an opportunity to perfect the album based on his audience’s reaction and response.

The second track on the album is “Jail”, a track featuring Jay-Z accompanied by an electric guitar. This track is one of Kanye’s more experimental pieces, it does not follow Kanye’s typical flow, and neglects to include the typical gospel themes and choir that Kanye has included on this album. Many fans of the album have claimed that Jail is one of their favorite songs and it is reminiscent of Kanye’s older work. While Kanye’s rap style has evolved and changed significantly over the years, from a once upbeat and more erratic flow, to a calmer, more mature approach. Furthermore, the title of the track “Jail” is symbolic of how Kanye has felt trapped and uses faith and spirituality as means of escape. 

On Off the Grid, Kanye claims to be “off the grid, doing this for my kids,” again reinforcing the idea that this album truly is dedicated to his family. The idea of going off the grid aligns with Kanye’s demeanor and attitude within the current era of the music industry. He has publicly acknowledged how his behavior is far from standard within the music industry. Additionally, given the fluctuating state of his mental health, this song can strike a cord with those who have undergone or endured a similar struggle.

Kanye and The Weekend swept fans off their feet with their lyrical and vocal prowess, leaving fans dazed and confused through the allure of the hit song Hurricane. This song by far was one of the best received albums thus far. Hurricane has been appreciated and recognized as the most palatable and mainstream of Donda’s tracks. The accompaniment of The Weekend’s vocals paired with Kanye’s lyricism and instrumental background makes for a musical masterpiece. 

Donda’s sixth track Moon, may be a metaphor for Kanye’s incessant need for creative exploration, and his desire to go to territories uncharted. By no means is Kanye a “traditional” 21st century artist. Kanye continues the narrative of his desire to explore and further expand his creativity. The moon is no new symbol within Kanye’s discography, Graduation, one of Kanye’s most well known albums, has allusions and imagery of the moon included. This intangible yet fathomable object illustrates the idea of something that is just slightly out of reach for the everyday person, and Kanye’s desire to “go to the moon” evokes the sentiment of needing to get to a place that is just out of reach. Perhaps, its stability or inner peace, but regardless of what it is, the desire fuels his passion.

Overall, Donda as a whole was an experimental masterpiece dedicated to Kanye’s family, particularly his late mother Donda, which explores the complexity of loss and what it means to truly use art as a medium of expression. To fully comprehend the intensity and depth of the album you must listen to it multiple times. The samples Kanye chooses to include in multiple songs could be reminiscent of Kanye’s younger years and when his mother was still with him. Samples from songs scattered throughout, could be metaphors of how amongst all of the chaos of his emotions, he has these happy memories that frequently resurface reminding him of a simpler time. Kanye’s experimentation with news beats and collaborating with new artists ultimately culminates in one of his most unique projects to date. The album, Donda, has such a unique appeal, mostly because of its abstract yet deep narrative that again explores the complex emotions that surround both fear and grief. While it may not be the traditional storytelling album, it has its own unique tale that is surrounded by nostalgia and appreciation.

Overall, Donda as a whole was an experimental masterpiece dedicated to Kanye’s family, particularly his late mother Donda, which explores the complexity of loss and what it means to truly use art as a medium of expression