The “Donda” Update that Keeps Our Spirits Alive

Kanye West updated his tenth studio album, “Donda,” the ode to his mother who passed. “Donda” represents the seventh and final stage of grief: acceptance.


The Easton Foundation and Xavier Hufkens

The alternate album cover for “Donda,” the tenth studio album. West later scrapped this for a blank and black square; however, West hasn’t revealed the real reason for changing it.

Jackson Mitchell, Staff Writer

“Donda, Donda, Donda, Donda.” The first words of Kanye West’s tenth studio album — a long awaited masterpiece with its soothing songs — is a tribute to his mother, Donda West, who unfortunately died while undergoing surgery at just 58 years old

Donda West’s age and final heartbeats are what inspired the first track on the album, “Donda Chant.” Her name repeated 58 times to the rhythm of her final moments, a beautiful intro to the musical universe of “Donda.” Staying true to his mother’s wishes, you won’t find a single explicit song on this 32 song track. It’s a view into the mind of what we thought would be a forever grieving Kanye.

Instead of the incredibly heart-wrenching “808’s and Heartbreaks,” Kanye’s first album dedicated to his mom (released in 2008), this seems more of an acceptance album, the final stage of grief. Fans believe that following “808’s and Heartbreaks,” each album represents a new stage of grief after losing his mother. 

“808’s” fills the gap of stage one: shock. As one of the most influential rap albums of our generation, it dealt with the feelings of losing a loved one. The album hits even harder with the knowledge that his mother was his biggest supporter through everything he’s done in his career.

The next album, “My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy,” is stage two: denial. Throughout the album, you hear him rap about more of a high-roller lifestyle where he fully sunk into the Hollywood persona. His 2013 release, “Yeezus,” reveals an obvious representation of the stage anger. He used that album as a safe space to vent his feelings into an abstract album that came out hatefully beautiful.

“The Life of Pablo” was released at the peak of his controversy regarding the leaked phone call with Taylor Swift, where West  was asking for permission to use her name on his song “Famous.” If you listen to the song, you can see he chose a different path. You can see him discussing the bargaining of the new Christian life he started to adapt, along with the sick and twisted life of a Hollywood star. A perfect representation of stage four: bargaining. 

“Ye,” the 2018 window into the darkest thoughts of depression and bipolar disorder. “Ye” represents stage five: depression. Following “Ye,” West is able to start his comeback with stage 5: testing in “Jesus is King.” He’s testing the gospel lifestyle he’s taken on, and fully connected to Jesus to find guidance through his magnificent life and career.

Finally, we reach “Donda” and stage seven: acceptance. “Donda” is all about Jesus offering assistance. On the song “Jail,” West is locked in a jail and Jesus offers bail to help him get out and prosper. “Things I cried at I find laughable,” West sings, showing that West has matured from his past and is improving as a person.

The album is about moving forward, but that doesnt mean West has fully forgotten his past. On “The Life of The Party,” he partnered with Andre 3000, another beloved hip-hop artist from West’s beginnings in the rap industry. In this song, both of them are singing to a parent who has passed — Kanye to his Mom and Andre to his Dad. At the end of the song, you can hear the audio of the late rapper DMX and his daughter riding the slingshot ride. This further shows the blissful moving forward while keeping his past close to him with just a more positive outlook on it.

There are more subtle nods to him moving forward in his life that are only made obvious with time. For example, on “Jail, Pt. 2,” the glaringly obvious lyric, “Single life ain’t so bad, but we ain’t finna go there.” The first time we all heard the lyric, we didn’t know what it was supposed to mean, but now it’s obviously talking about him and Kim Kardashian’s divorce. 

The album represents West accepting all of the aspects of his life that have not been the strongest and his perseverance regardless of setbacks. On “Jail, Pt. 2,” he features Dababy, and this song  is an instrumental that’s nothing like we’ve ever seen before from him. He strayed away from his bass heavy repetitive beats to a beat made by West.

The album is innovative, risky, and exactly the album you could expect from West. Releasing another Christian-focused album after the backlash on “Jesus Is King” was a move almost nobody was expecting. He took what he had done wrong in “Jesus is King” and transformed it to make a more perfect album. A deserving 58/10.