The New Kanye

Donda: album of the year

Kanye West at the listening party for his new album Donda, earlier this year, in Atlanta. Kevin Mazur/Getty Images for Universal Music Group

If there is one thing that this pandemic can’t take away from us- it is music and the pleasure it brings to us all. Music as the power of living forever, when everything else around us disappears. Talented musicians produce good music, period; ain’t no doubt about that.

As we close another chapter of our lives, with the new year around the corner, I wanted to write about an album that touched me, my favourite one from 2021.

While a lot of people are talking about Certified Lover Boy or 30, Donda deserves more praises from the industry and critics. I am not saying that the project was swept under the carpet, but that this Kanye West album should be classified as one of his best so far. Previously, I thought that 808s & Heartbreak was the best thing he ever came up with (just because of its R&B swag to it). This 2021 album marks a new era in the artist’s career, which has been through lots of ups and downs these past years. Donda is more soulful than his other rap projects, partly because of the role that religion plays in his life. This year, we were blessed with a new Kanye, but one that still carries a presence that is out of this world.

Contrary to others, I doubt that Kanye does all of this (with an inflated ego) because he thinks he is better than everyone, but because he wants to empower others to follow their dreams and achieve the same success he was able to accomplish.

Kanye’s album is a true honour to his late mom. It also addresses the topics of mental health, hardship and getting back up after setbacks. Just like JESUS IS KING (2019), this new album finds comfort in well-assembled tracks, from slow jams to pop hits. We can definitely use a couple of these tracks to lift each other up, like Jail (where he talks about single life and thinking by oneself, with the help of his friend Jay-Z), New Again and Believe What I Say.

We were going through hard times this year, with grueling heat waves and the never-ending pandemic. This album is what we all needed to make us feel better.

The famous rapper was himself coping with losses. Among other things, the multi-platinum artist and the entertainer and Kim Kardashian separated in February 2021. After years of marriage, Kardashian filled for divorce, leaving Kanye along with his thoughts and fears. It is definitely a theme that comes more than once throughout the project.

We can also say that he had lost his way when he decided to support Trump awhile back, going as far as wearing a Trump MAGA hat everywhere he went, including on the set of Saturday Night Live when he was rambling about falsehood and nonsense. He had said some controversial stuff during this time. We all remember the scattering words he said while visiting the TMZ newsroom in 2018. He was then telling Harvin Levin that “400 years of slavery was a choice” (referencing to the African American US history). That was a dumb comment by someone who wasn’t at his best. Whatever what people say, Kanye West has always been an ally for demands from members of the black community. He showed it throughout his career and with multiple projects, as represented in some of his songs like Black Skinhead and Jesus Walks.

If you haven’t yet listened to Donda, do so during your holiday’s downtime. Sit back, relax and immerse yourself in a utopian world while listening to the album. It has everything needed in order to bounce back from setbacks and sufferings that COVID-19 brought to us. Like Kanye said it in 24, “we gonna be okay.” Because when everything seems to be crumbling and you are losing your way, you can only go up.

Like now, it is okay to not be okay and ask for help. We weren’t ready for these uncertainties, these pains that we have been going through for almost two years, but the human race is strong. Let’s remind ourselves that “we gonna be okay”, simply because it always gets better. Now go and listen to music, a blanket for hope and joy.

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Olivier Pilon

Graduated with a masters degree in politics from the University of Quebec in Montreal. Human rights, LGBT issues, sports and music. Twitter: @OlivierPilon