Many artists come to mind when thinking of the current hip hop mainstream. Two names in particular have had the culture in a chokehold since the beginning of their careers: Kanye West and Drake.
When it came to release dates, both artists continually pushed back the official album release date. Drake’s torn meniscus caused his album ‘Certified Lover Boy’ to get pushed back for months on end, but on Aug. 27, the Canadian artist went on SportsCenter and announced Sept. 3 as the official release of the project.
Kanye West also had a messy process leading up to the release of his new album, ‘Donda.’ However, he remained much more open about his unfinished record at the end. Throughout August, West had three listening parties for ‘Donda’ that featured visuals that fit the ambient and dark tone of the album. West announced ‘Donda’ more than a year ago and adjusted many elements of the album within that period. The album was released on Aug 29., only two days after Drake announced the official date for CLB.
Within less than a week of each other, both albums debuted at number 1 on the Billboard Hot 200 charts, with many of the songs from both projects hitting the top ten ranks following their releases.
Chart numbers do not determine everything though. Many fans are currently debating the question of how the albums stand against each other.
Starting with ‘Donda,’ the album’s name takes inspiration from Kanye West’s late mother, Donda West, who passed away shortly after the release of West’s 2007 critically acclaimed album ‘Graduation.’ The weight of Donda West’s death took a huge toll on Kanye and inspired many of his later works such as ‘808s and Heartbreak.’
West dedicated ‘Donda’ to West’s mother and touches on topics mostly related to West’s Christian faith.
Throughout the album, West incorporates chants from church choirs and intricately placed organs in order to match the sonic and lyrical content. Standout production from West and his team makes the album unique compared to not only other Kanye projects, but other rap albums.
Mike Dean, who has worked with West in the past, worked on ‘Donda’ until the very last moment, adding his signature guitar and synths to many of the tracks. Legendary producer and founder of Def Jam Records, Rick Rubin, also played a role in the production of the album. Rubin also worked with West on the 2013 album ‘Yeezus,’ which embraces loud and outlandish instrumentation. This instrumentation seems to have influenced the sound and attitude of Kanye’s work until present day.