Kanye West’s Donda 2 is Perhaps His Most Shoddily Crafted Album Yet

Farooz Khan-Trunnell, Contributing Writer

Falcon Rating: 2/5 Falcons

Kanye West, also known as Ye, is a producer, rapper, singer, fashion designer, and cultural icon with seemingly ever-growing net worth, critical acclaim, and controversy. Ye has landed himself in hot water too many times to count, justifiably or not, but no matter what, his boundary-pushing music has always made up for the unsavory aspects of his public image. However, his latest “album” may be breaking this trend.

Though 2021’s Donda certainly wasn’t met with the warmest reception, its memorable listening parties, scores of fan-favorite songs, and a who’s-who feature list still was able to leave a strong impact on listeners. The same can’t quite be said for its haphazardly rushed sequel, Donda 2. The project, in a stand against the unfair practices of streaming services, released exclusively on the Stem Player, a $200 product that allows its user to play the separate stems of a track (e.g. drums, instrumental, vocals). While the statement is laudable, leaving fans with the choice to drop $200 on an album or find leaks from the internet is simply unreasonable.

Many songs feature mumbled placeholder vocals, shoddy mixing, and highly underdeveloped ideas.”

This inaccessible price tag is even harder to justify seeing just how unfinished Donda 2 is. Many songs feature mumbled placeholder vocals, shoddy mixing, and highly underdeveloped ideas. Presumably, the goal would be to continuously update the record post-release (even though Kanye has actually expressed no intention to do so), but Donda 2 is unfocused enough that a simple touch-up may not be a perfect fix.

It does include several interesting ideas, though. Such as “Get Lost,” “Too Easy,” and the blunt, explosive “Security”, all rough and impassioned songs that showcase the same fearless experimentation shown on benchmark Ye albums like 808s and Heartbreak and Yeezus. Cleaned up, these songs could be fantastic, but in their current unfinished stage, they fall into mediocrity.

The likes of “Flowers,” “Sci-Fi,” and “Broken Road,” plus “True Love,” and “Selfish,” which feature moonlit vocals from the late XXXTentacion, display a more emotional side of the album. Sadly, Kanye’s all-over-the-place lyricism actively works to corrupt the tone. He has his moments, like the heartfelt verse addressing his divorce on “True Love,” but often Kanye is the most inconsistent part of his album.  

Other parts of Donda 2 seem to follow its predecessor’s successes like “Off The Grid” and “Praise God,” with a score of banging trap cuts. These tracks lack their Donda counterparts’s standout features, but somewhat make up for it with hard-hitting production and catchy flows. “Pablo,” “Louie Bags,” and “Happy” can be repetitive, but don’t lack in attitude, which is something.

At its best, Donda 2 advertises a frustratingly untapped potential to match Kanye’s best work. At its worst, it runs in circles, empty of creativity or even coherence. Given highlights like “Security,” “Too Easy,” “True Love,” and “Pablo,” Kanye still has a lot to offer; it’s just distorted by a supreme lack of focus. It will be interesting to see how Donda 2 evolves, but Kanye works in mysterious ways. He could take his good ideas and turn them into good songs, but it is equally likely that the end result of Donda 2 will be a mess, and an unfortunate sign of a legend losing his way. At this point, there’s only one man who actually knows what will happen.

This piece also appears in our March 2022 print edition.