Stella Quinn pits two of the most anticipated albums of the year against each other. Only one can be the best. “Donda” or “Certified Lover Boy”?
RIP Donda. Kanye West’s highly anticipated album has officially dropped and though his hardcore fans would be happy to buy his previous album all over again, this album, named after his late mother Donda, has bought him some new fans.
Ye, as he’s now known, was meant to release his new work on the 24th of July 2020, however it was suspiciously held back and dropped within a week of Drake’s new album release, a year later on the 29th August 2021.
Perhaps it was held up on account of his marital issues with his soon to be ex, Kim Kardashian as inferred in the song ‘Hurricane’ where he raps about possibly having been unfaithful in his marriage. “Here I go actin’ too rich / Here I go with a new chick / And I know what the truth is / Still playin’ after two kids.” Very reminiscent of Jay Z’s confessional album 4:44.
On track 20, ’Lord I need you’ he teases us with the lyrics “Three hours to get back from Palm Springs, huh? Who you know spend an hour in Walgreens”, suggesting that Kim was late to return home for reasons other than shopping.
Kanye West Spotify monthly listeners:— Kanye West Streams (@kanyestreams1) September 12, 2021
Day before DONDA: 37.0m
#13 in the world passing Bilie, 100k from #12! #DONDA
Donda features Jay Z, Travis Scott, The Weeknd and the late Pop Smoke to name a few and fans quickly took to social media to express their joy after hearing Ye and Jay together for the first time in 12 years, squashing a long standing feud between the once friends.
The stand out songs on this album to me are ‘No Child Left Behind’, ‘Jail’ and ‘Believe what I say’. Kanye’s vulnerability, raw emotions and sampling of iconic songs such as Lauren Hill’s ‘That Thing’ is why I consider him a creative genius. There’s a 90’s rock throwback within the song ‘Jail’ where he sings about God posting his bail. There are themes of religion, perseverance, grief and love weaved throughout this album as he raps about his recent heartaches like the loss of his mum and his relationship with God. This is Kanye at his best.
The album which is seemingly dedicated to his late mum starts with a fifty two second interlude of a woman’s voice chanting Donda in both soft and harsh tones. At first the chant sounds eerie however it soon drew me into a curiosity of who Donda was and how she must have impacted his life. I wanted to get to know her and honestly felt like I had missed out on not.
The controversy that occurred at Kanye’s listening party was neither surprising nor unexpected. In walked his ex in a custom Balenciaga wedding gown, covered head to toe as if it was a vow renewal and not an album launch.
Next up was the rapper Da baby, who’s homophobic comments at the Rolling Loud festival had fans in an uproar across social media leading to his upcoming gigs being pulled. He was joined on stage by Marilyn Manson, who has been facing allegations of sexual misconduct and assault. They collaborated with Ye on the song Jail pt2.
Kanye has since said that his label Universal blocked the song on all streaming services, however this decision has recently been reversed because what Kanye wants, Kanye gets.
Certified Lover Boy:
One day after the 14-year anniversary of Kanye West and 50 Cent’s famous album battle between Graduation and Curtis, Drake’s Certified Lover Boy officially outsells Kanye’s Donda in total first-week sales by nearly double— XXL Magazine (@XXL) September 12, 2021
Certified Lover Boy – 613,000
Donda – 309,000
Like Ye’, Drake’s hip-hop album had a late release date and was dropped nine months after it was scheduled. On September 3rd, the twenty one track album Certified Lover Boy was released and quickly out streamed Donda in just three days. According to Apple Music, Drake had officially broken the record for the most streamed album in twenty four hours and Certified Lover Boy had 7 million streams more than Donda.
The feud between the two goes back as far as 2010 when Drake was spotted with Kanye’s ex Amber Rose and more recently ignited with the involvement of Drake’s nemesis, Pusha T’s comment about Drake’s son and him being a ‘dead beat dad’.
Ye recently leaked a message in a group chat with a photo of the Joker, calling Drake (Drizzy) a ‘nerd ass jock’ and followed it up with a now deleted instagram post of Drake’s home address. Up till now I hadn’t realised Kanye was back on instagram as his 8.2 million followers is a pale comparison to Drake’s 91.8 million.
CLB is thoughtfully dedicated to two of his close friends, Mercedes Moor and Nadia Ntuli who both sadly passed away. My initial thoughts on the album are that it’s similar to Dark Lane demo Tapes but since Drake seems intent on living his best life in ‘hot boy fall’ most of the tracks are in keeping with his self claimed playboy status.
In contrast to the partial spirituality of Ye’s Donda, Certified Lover Boy had themes of Drake’s non committal relationship status and calling out the haters.
The first track, Champagne Poetry is a fantastic choice to start off the album with its vibe-y slow tempo introduction with samples from a Beatles classic, ‘Michelle’, and the group The Gabriel Hardman Delegation. Something that Kanye and Drake both does well is integrating different genres of music and merging the past and present seamlessly.
‘Girls want girls’ is the most streamed song on the album with over 37 million plays on Spotify. Fans were both confused and offended and perhaps repeat plays were owed to his lyric ‘Yeah, say that you a lesbian, girl, me too’.
The highlight of this album was an appearance from the queen herself, Nicki Minaj with a cheeky intro on the song ‘Papi’s Home’. It felt like the original ‘Young Money’ gang was back together.
Yebba’s echoing romantic vocals made Yebba’s Heartbreak one of the best tracks on this album. Her voice hauntingly glides along the track echoing … ‘I do, I do, I do’
Jay Z acted like Switzerland and appeared on both Kanye’s and Drake’s album. On Kanye’s ‘Rain’ he raps about reassuring Ye’s late mother by telling her not to worry because he has Kanye’s back now. Seems like he has Drake’s back too.
Drake, like Kanye similarly missed the #meetoo memo as we can faintly hear R-Kelly’s track, ‘Half on a Baby’ within the first few opening bars of the song TSU.
It would be hard to compare the cover art of both albums as Kanye skipped his entirely in favour of a black square. Drake’s however was designed by the quirky and controversial Damien Hirst. Fans believed the pregnant emoji artwork to be in reference to the albums’ nine month late arrival.
Kanye’s album ‘Donda’ comes out on top because it’s a therapeutic triumph of his vulnerability from his recent loss, his family issues and his connection with God. Drake’s ‘Certified Lover Boy’ album missed the mark with many of his tracks falling flat while he desperately attempted to hold on to his playa’ status.
Certified Lover Boy: 2/5