You know the drill by now. Ever since 2018, it has been a time-honored tradition to review a Kanye West album and the results have been…mixed, to say the least. Just when we feel things are getting ready to calm down for a minute, we learn that Kanye and Kim Kardashian are getting a divorce. Amongst all of that, Ye and Drake squash their…”disagreements”. Pulling many heel turns on his friends and past collaborators, dates a Becky, then a Kim clone…then Pete Davidson.
Now, I’m sure I’m missing a lot of events and everything I mentioned is out of order, but amongst everything I said, how does any of this relate to his music?
Which is why the announcement of a sequel to DONDA was not only surprising but perplexing. To release an album in such a short amount of time and just only a few months after DONDA, had to indicate that either these were songs that were already being worked on straight after its release or this was going to be another rushed, half-baked social experiment, disguised as an album and that we are all going to be disappointed either by the lack of quality in music or by the fact that it took all of this drama to get here. Not to mention, the album is not officially released. Its current iteration is on a Stem Player, that Ye is charging for $200. So you’re telling me, in the midst of a pandemic, where people can barely afford rent much less a Stem Player, you’re telling me to evaluate my life decisions just for a Stem Player for an album you are never going to officially release? I agree with Corey Taylor, you can go fuck yourself.
Luckily, I have friends in nappy places and I am able to get my hands on this album (or at least this version). Now, mind you. This isn’t going to be a review in the conventional sense, because we don’t even know if this is the real version, but we can at least treat it as such and decipher whether or not the drama was worth the wait. So let’s go through Divorce: The Album a.k.a. DONDA 2.
1. TRUE LOVE
Featuring XXXTENTACION; Produced by John Cunningham, Kanye West, & Ojivolta
The song starts off with an XXXTentacion sample that sounds like it was ripped straight off of an Instagram Live session when XXX was demoing songs for whatever he was working on before his passing. You know, at first you can empathize with Ye, with the troubles that divorce and separation bring by being away from his kids and not being able to see them every day. Soon after that, Ye fucks it up with something as minuscule as what brand of shoes his kids are wearing.
Wait, who got the kids in those “What are those?”
Wait, why they can’t wear Yeezys with the cargos?
Y’all know Nike don’t like me, y’all take it too far, though
At least have ’em in some Mike’s, he played for Chicago
And then after the chorus comes in again, the song just…ends…okay then.
Ya know, that is what makes this so confusing. Because if this is going to be Divorce: The Album, I want you to dive deeper into the pain you’re feeling. Not “whoop Pete Davidson’s ass” deep, but at least let me empathize with you or at least the character you are portraying. But the song ends before it can even get anywhere. Get used to having that feeling.
2. BROKEN ROAD
Featuring Don Toliver; Produced by Theophilus London & Kanye West
Man, that hook.
Don Toliver comes through in the clutch again with another amazing vocal performance and while I wish this could just be him crooning throughout, here comes Kanye. This time, there is at least some good lines in here that makes up for how short this song is.
What if the surgeon really the serpent?
Which there is clearly a shot at the surgeon who botched his mother’s surgery in which the complications from it, led to her untimely death.
Once again, before the song can get better, it just stops. Did Ye just run out of things to talk about here?
3. GET LOST
Produced by Kanye West & Ojivolta
I hate this. Every time he does the Daft Punk voice thing on songs, it just completely ruins it. He ruined “Runaway” with it, he ruined “Blood on the Leaves” with it. Like it is just a waste of space on a record that doesn’t have an actual runtime.
Outside of all that, this seems like a futuristic love letter to Kim, asking him if he still crosses her mind. Well obviously not if she is getting dicked down and getting every bit of skete from Pete.
4. TOO EASY
Produced by Kanye West & Dem Jointz
Did Ye just forget how to write songs? This song just does not go anywhere except for Kanye jerking himself off for three minutes and going off about how he only loves himself and how you need to love him too. It’s like I’m watching Roman Reigns tell a crowd to “acknowledge him”. This level of ego and grandeur we’ve come to expect from Ye over the course of three decades. I just didn’t think it would be this dull this time around.
Produced by Kanye West, Digital Nas, & Ojivolta
I like the xylophone making up most of the instrumental’s foundation, but outside of the beat, the content is basically “Whatever You Like” 2022. You can tell this is for the Julia Fox types or whoever that Kim clone Ye is fucking with at this moment. The type of woman that brags about being an investment would eat this half-baked commentary up.
Produced by Digital Nas, Kanye West
No, you can’t be on my mama album!
Well, Cudi going to be mad again.
At what point will Pete Davidson become concerned about the perceived threats that he is making non-stop? Painting an image of him in the house on some Ving Rhames shit and demanding Kim (or Pete) keep the picture on the fridge and come and give him a kiss. Is this not abusive? The overall song is just Ye rambling over this noise. I don’t know what to make of this song and I’m not going to even try.
7. WE DID IT KID
Featuring Migos & Baby Keem; Produced by Tom Levesque, Ojivolta, FNZ, Jahaan Sweet, Scott Bridgeway, Kanye West, & Digital Nas
Baby Keem begins with a bouncy melodic flow that leads right into Migos sounding more energized than they have the last five years. I will say out of the tracks so far, this is the most tolerable out of them all and doesn’t remind me that this was a rush job to put an album out and cheat people out of $200 for a Tamagotchi that plays music.
Featuring Future & Travis Scott; Produced by FNZ, ATL Jacob, & Kanye West
I forgot until now that Future supposedly executive produced this album. Does that even matter? Does Future even know that he executive produced this? Anyways, it was advertised that Travis Scott was supposed to be on this. Where?
I don’t really get anything from this outside this would be cool to play in a club or party setting but that is all it is. Background noise. No more, no less.
9. LOUIE BAGS
Featuring Jack Harlow; Produced by Gavin Hadley, JW Lucas, Digital Nas, Kanye West, & Kid Krono
This is what ticks me, wouldn’t this sample of Kamala Harris work more on “We Did It Kid”??? So, this is a loose homage to the late Virgil Abloh, but with the excruciatingly distorted 808 in the instrumental and the repetitive jibberish Ye is saying, I’m checking out. Then comes Jack Harlow. Now, Ye for some reason blurted out that Jack Harlow was top 5 right now in Hip–Hop. Don’t know exactly how he sees that, but his verse on this song is merely passable. I don’t know what the hype is but he is merely in my opinion, the 2022 G-Eazy.
Featuring Future; Produced by Kanye West & Wheezy
As insane as this Wheezy beat is, it is mind-boggling how it sounds like Future put more effort into trying to turn this into something. Ye screaming out “Do I look happy to you?” as much as he is, it probably makes you ask yourself as the listener, is Ye being satirical? Or is the soundtrack of a man that is having a musical mental breakdown???
11. SCI FI
Featuring Sean Leon; Produced by Leo Dessi, Ojivolta, Sean Leon, LUCA, Kanye West, Aaron Paris, & CVRE
Finally, a song that I can sink into here. Kim “narrating” over a dystopian type of backdrop and Ye is going back and forth over either himself or the people choosing to either be at peace or to stay attached to the drama they see on the Internet. The issue with that dilemma is that Ye often puts himself in the center of that drama and because he cannot go a minute without vomiting his every thought, we as fans or non-fans or inquiring minds are stuck clinging to every bit of it. What makes it worse is that he has little to no shame doing it. With all that aside, this is the first song I genuinely like and can overlook the flaws.
Featuring XXXTENTACION; Produced by Ojivolta, XXXTENTACION, Kanye West, & John Cunningham
Well, when you start off with a sample from Empire…you know this is going to be something.
Or in this case, nothing.
Outside of Ye once again graverobbing XXXTentacion, we have Ye spouting off his justifications for why we are only seeing this album out on a Stem Player and not accessible to the public. Because he finally read Industry Rule #4080. Let that marinate. NEXT!
13. LORD LIFT ME UP
Featuring Vory; Produced by Kanye West
I am a fan of the string backdrop here and while Vory’s performance is not as captivating as it was on DONDA 1, it is a breath of fresh air from such a confusing 35 minutes.
14. KEEP IT BURNING
Featuring Future; Produced by DB, Kanye West, & ATL Jacob
This album’s saving grace is the instrumentals, because man, I am getting absolutely nothing from this. It is safe to say that all of these songs are DONDA 1 B-sides. I will say this, the Talking Heads sample on the chorus was brilliant. If only these two (Ye & Future) were more inspired on this.
15. CITY OF GODS
Produced by The Chainsmokers, Dem Jointz, Ojivolta, Lil Mav, Tweek Tune, Hemz, AyoAA, & Kanye West
I as many of you probably have already listened to this song and all this really is, is “Off the Grid” Pt. 2, Carti ad-libs and all, and just insert Alicia Keys. Nothing to see here guys, all clear!
16. FIRST TIME IN A LONG TIME
Featuring Soulja Boy; Produced by Ojivolta & Kanye West
After that nonsense last year with Big Draco getting taken off DONDA and whatever else happened after, it is surprising to see him here as the final verse and quite honestly, maybe even the best verse here. Uncharacteristic of Soulja Boy to drop something of well…you know…quality, but it works while Ye continues to rant about his divorce and that is where it seems to end. Great, I can listen to Tana Talk 4 now.
I feel like I wasted my time.
Not because I think the album is bad, because much like a lot of Ye’s catalog post-Pablo, they’re all works in progress and these songs have potential but that is just it there. Why put out a project of unfinished material. To rebel? To buck the system? As some sort of artistic statement? Who are we kidding? It’s like this because it’s Kanye West and because (in his mind) he can.
As I mentioned before, the saving grace of this album are the instrumentals. Kanye’s approach to minimalism has been hit or miss since I started reviewing him on this site, but for the most part, it works when it is supposed to. But much like every album I reviewed, the issue is Kanye himself. Whether it be his ego, his narcissism, his self-awareness or lack thereof, his warped sense of reality, this is a man who is realizing that his relevance, whether he wants to admit it or not, is dwindling in this microwaved, fast-paced changing landscape of Hip-Hop music and culture. Hence relying on these antics on and off the music to keep the conversation going, but eventually, people get tired and when people get tired, people flee.
At the end of the day, Kanye is using his divorce for clout. In an effort to boost his already fragile mental state, this album and the events that preceded it is his way of painting himself as the victim, rather than accepting responsibility for what led to his and Kim’s divorce. Rationalizing his flaws and in a sense, celebrating them, rather than evaluating them. Painting Pete Davidson and anyone who disagrees with him as the villain as if Kim is a fucking damsel in distress and he needs to save her and their kids from the big bad blonde monster. What sucks about all of this, is I don’t have a single song to take with me outside of a few decent tracks that are probably going to be altered in a few weeks if Ye feels like it.
So, since I’m not giving this a score, I will put it like this. DONDA 2 confirmed what I and many others that have watched this soap opera play out, have known for a while and it took this to confirm. When it comes to Kanye West as a musician, as a celebrity, and as a person…
I’m over it.
Guess I’ll watch Jeen-Yus again to mourn the old Kanye.