Country : United States Label : Genres and styles : Gospel / Hip Hop / Instrumental Hip Hop / Trap Year : 2021
Kanye West

Kanye West – Donda

· by Alain Brunet

He may have been delirious for many years, he may not suppress the incoherences of his manic depression, but he continues to be taken seriously and given the media prominence of the greatest in the world. Why? Because Kanye is still considered by many to be a brilliant artist. How is Kanye West, a self-proclaimed genius, a genius? 

The first phase of his career might have hinted at “genius”; released between 2004 and 2013, his first six albums were rightly deemed brilliant. Until the release of Yeesus eight years ago, West was one of the hip-hop nation’s best creators, particularly for the micro-productions layered into his tracks, for a methodology adapted to the digital context. The Chicago rapper and beatmaker was then at the forefront of hip-hop’s advances. The critical success was fully deserved, the commercial success fully justified. 

What followed was less brilliant, starting with The Life of Pablo, an album with some very good tracks and others that were downright erratic. Since then, his artistic career has been accompanied by a flamboyant and ostentatious lifestyle, starting with his connections at the top of the reality-show vacuum, where the Kardashian family is enthroned. Recall also his strange licking of Trumpist boots, his ridiculous stances on the African-American condition, the chaotic management of his personal finances, and his conversion to Christian fundamentalism, to name only these incongruities.

These are all examples that invalidate any diagnosis of genius, which Kanye nevertheless keeps hammering into his audience and the mass media, who make a big deal of it. Yet… Once a talented and innovative rapper, West has gradually become a circus animal. Getting people to talk about him and getting wide attention is his primary function these days. What will be the next chapter? An album made in North Korea, with Dennis Rodman and Kim Jong-un as special guests? Another in Kabul with Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar?  Who knows where this headlong rush will lead…

His recent productions are patchworks of his earlier discoveries, with only a propensity for gospel and hip-hop deconstructions as his own. The new chapter follows: Donda, the title of the new offering which is also his late mother’s first name, is another gigantic psalmody set to rhyme, against a backdrop of computerized minimalism. The musical interest of this album lies in its hip-hop adaptations of sacred song. For the rest, nice job but… no strokes of genius on the radar. 

No less than 27 tracks, simply constructed, mostly unfinished, pretty demos dotted with keyboards, laptops and instrumental complements, a kind of automatic writing with an uncommon know-how. Kanye may complain that his record company released this work too early, but he never wraps it up and the product invariably turns out unfinished…

As for West’s painful preachy talk, it dominates the rhymes offered here, his reflections revealing once again his incoherence and his inner torments, far from resolved. His invitations to reputed sociopaths bears mention: Chris Brown, wife beater starting with the famous Rhianna; DaBaby, the rapper prone to homophobia; Marilyn Manson, rocker repeatedly denounced for sexual assault, These are all black holes in a galaxy that includes a constellation of MCs and R&B singers – Jay-Z, The Weeknd, Travis Scott, Kid Cudi, Young Thug, Playboi Carti, Ty Dolla $ign, Westside Gunn, Pop Smoke, Lil Baby, Jay Electronica, Baby Keem, Roddy Ricch.  

Today, the alleged genius of Kanye West is total bullshit. It will only stop when we stop paying attention to him… or when he comes to his senses after a successful therapy. We’ll hold our breath…

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