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There are few albums in recent memory that have been quite so divisive as Donda. Kanye West’s long-teased 10th LP has gone through many iterations and titles, and finally dropped yesterday as a 27-track, almost 2 hour behemoth. Length alone should never be a detractor to one’s critical reception of art – but in this case, the album simply fails to uphold the quality of its strongest moments for that entire duration. That’s really okay, because two hours of superb music is nearly impossible to pull off. In forming a critical analysis of Donda, however, one must take all moments into account – not just its finer cuts – and the results are middling. At its core though, Donda had the potential to be nearly perfect and go toe to toe with My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy as West’s best and most ambitious work. I’m sure this will be done a thousand different ways over the coming weeks, but below is my re-imagined and condensed version of Donda – an iteration that I almost certainly would have hailed as superb or a classic.

I left ‘Jail’ as the opener (we’re not counting ‘Donda Chant’ in this case) because I think it is the ideal adrenaline pumping scene-setter. I’ve heard some complaints already about ‘God Breathed’s early placement with that long outro, but I’m okay with it – it cements Donda as the imaginative and ambitious piece that it is. Most of this re-imagining was just me trimming the church-organ lathered gospel songs, because after a while they collectively dull down the impact of genius moments like the badass banger ‘Heaven and Hell’. I knew from the start that I wanted ‘Jesus Lord’ to be the penultimate track, because it is so powerful lyrically that I wanted it to have close to the “final say” on Donda. It doesn’t quite work as a closer though, and that’s where ‘Come to Life’ plays its role perfectly, stepping in with those gorgeous pianos to usher out the gritty emotions of ‘Jesus Lord’ with grace and elegance. Elsewhere, I kept stronger hip-hop moments like ‘Off The Grid’, ‘Ok Ok’, and ‘Pure Souls’, as well as The Weeknd’s feature on ‘Hurricane’ and the obvious highlight ‘Believe What I Say’. All in all, I think this 10-track cut (still clocking in at an LP-length 50 minutes) makes for the best possible iteration of Donda. I even used one of the alternate versions of artwork, which blows a simple black square out of the water. What do you think? Let me know if this reimagining enhances your enjoyment of Donda. I know it’s how I’ll be listening to it moving forward.

 

Reimagined Donda Tracklist:

  1. Jail
  2. God Breathed
  3. Off The Grid
  4. Heaven and Hell
  5. Ok Ok
  6. Believe What I Say
  7. Pure Souls
  8. Hurricane
  9. Jesus Lord
  10. Come to Life





Sowing
08.30.21
Kanye, I am available to collaborate on future albums - all I ask is 0.5% commission on every dollar. Create an account on Sputnik and shoutbox me when you get this. Thanks!

JefferyBigglestein2
08.30.21
think this needs New Again, otherwise pretty solid.

Odal
08.30.21
Honestly, the best reimagining of DONDA was just having the sequencing of the songs be what they were at the first two listening parties. The album had his mother's voice sampling take a more prominent role and the since-removed verse on DONDA as an opener for the album set the mood that this was going to be a pretty reflective affair. I have no idea what the narrative of the album is supposed to be now. That being said, I love it and I think this reimagining leaves too much off. I think the indulgence of the album enhances the songs rather than detract, but that's just me

Sowing
08.30.21
Yeah without hearing the listening parties this was the best I could do. You may very well be right; the idea of Donda's voice being more prominent in the story sounds wonderful and it's a shame that the final copy didn't pursue that.

Pheromone
08.30.21
no Moon gtfo

Odal
08.30.21
The original tracklist was:
"Donda" (Ft. Pusha T & The World Famous Tony Williams)

"Moon"(Ft. Don Toliver & Kid Cudi)

"Praise God" (Ft. Baby Keem & Travis Scott)

"I'm Not OK" (Ft. Lil Yachty & Rooga)

"Junya" (Ft. Playboi Carti)

"Jonah" (Ft. Lil Durk & Vory)

"Heaven And Hell"

"Off The Grid" (Ft. Fivio Foreign & Playboi Carti)

"Remote" (Ft. Kid Cudi & Young Thug)

"Donda" (Interlude)

"New Again"

"Pure Souls" (Ft. Roddy Ricch)

"Keep My Spirit Alive" (Ft. Conway the Machine, KayCyy & Westside Gunn)

"Never Abandon Your Family"

"Jesus Lord" (Ft. Jadakiss, Jay Electronica, Rooga & Styles P)

"I Know God Breathed On This" (Ft. Vory)

"Tell The Vision" (Ft. Pop Smoke)

"Jail" (Ft. Francis and the Lights & JAY-Z)

"Lord I Need You Lyrics"

"Hurricane" (Ft. Lil Baby & The Weeknd)

"24" (Ft. Vory)

"No Child Left Behind" (Ft. Vory)

Sowing
08.30.21
Moon is alright but not critical IMO. Just a ballad among other slow jams here.

Sowing
08.30.21
@Odal I might try that order just out of curiosity. Not sure if just lining up the final track versions in that order will have the same impact though, or if the listening party version had more to it (like the Donda recordings).

Odal
08.30.21
Just slide in Come to Life before No Child Left Behind and I think it'll be a similar effect. Him cutting Never Abandon Your Family was devastating though. That song was a highlight for me at the parties and one of his most vulnerable songs ever. Highly recommend seeking it out and giving it a listen

Sowing
08.30.21
Also; why on Earth did he not use the artwork pictured above?

Odal
08.30.21
No idea, but I wish he did lol

ajcollins15
08.30.21
People who can sit through the whole thing and say they enjoyed every track are a different breed. Donda is the definition of being over bloated.

Sowing
08.30.21
I'm getting 4.5/5 to 5/5 enjoyment from this ordering; but yeah it's weird to enjoy a subset of the songs SO much but think the whole album is average/decent at best.

I don't care if the album is 2 hours long, but when more than half of it is forgettable, that's a problem.

Odal
08.30.21
I really don't think it's bloated other than the God Breathed outro and Tell the Vision. The repetition helps reinforce the religious aspect as that's a big aspect in religious music. I'm not religious myself, but I can appreciate that this sounds a lot more sincere than Jesus is King did. Sonically, you're getting bits and pieces from just about every Kanye era

Sowing
08.30.21
I listen to a decent amount of religious music and repetition is only an important aspect in certain hymnals. I don't buy it as an important aspect here; it's lazy just like it is in any genre.

Odal
08.30.21
If the Godly aspect of the album wasn't such a centerpiece, I might agree but I don't think it's lazy at all. This is mostly a very chill and vibey album.

Slex
08.31.21
Cutting Moon is outrageous, I'm outraged

neekafat
08.31.21
shoulda been "Jesus Lord pt. 2" tbh

Sowing
08.31.21
I still don't understand the big deal about Moon. Can someone explain?

Honestly I ignored all the Pt.2's after one listen when I realized they were more like reworkings of the same songs than legitimate sequels. Was this a mistake?

Pheromone
08.31.21
Moon is gorgeous


Sowing
08.31.21
Thanks now I understand

letsgofishing
08.31.21
"Moon is alright but not critical IMO. Just a ballad among other slow jams here."

But really, this is your worst take.

I mean, I don't think the final tracklisting does many favors to the song, it immediately following such a strange and out of place sample - when in previous tracklistings it served as a potent moment of table-clearing and catharsis.

But fuck, how that song don't give you goosebumps regardless is beyond me.

Sowing
08.31.21
I'll have to listen to it a few more times but it didn't register as goosebump worthy to me upon my first few spins

JohnnyoftheWell
08.31.21
listening to this and not putting that thread in my comment history and wtf

i had zero expectations or conscious BIAS here but Jail and God Breathed are both fascinatingly half-arsed. unironically cut both and put Donda Chant and Praise God on instead

Toolbag
08.31.21
no Moon gtfo" x2


JohnnyoftheWell
08.31.21
yeah wtf Moon is an easy KEEP [4]

Toolbag
08.31.21
My ideal would look like this:

1. No Child Left Behind (Into)
2. Jail
3. Off The Grid
4. Hurricane
5. Keep My Spirit Alive
6. Remote Control
7. Moon (Interlude)
8. Believe What I Say
9. New Again
10. Pure Souls
11. Come to Life
12. Jesus Lord
13. Donda (Outro)

56 Mins

https://open.spotify.com/playlist/2tYsOTTHUNMvnyUkFiNIum?si=54ba1876b86141f8

unagi
08.31.21
ideal album for personalized tracklists, i think its great people are finding ways to enjoy.
figured i'd share one I came up with. enjoy

1. moon
2. praise god (trimmed intro)
3. off the grid
4. junya part 2
5. Heaven And Hell
6. God Breathed (ends at 3:27)
7. Ok Ok
8. Hurricane
9. Believe What I Say
10. Jail
11. Pure Souls
12. Keep My Spirit Alive
13. Jesus Lord (trimmed intro)

Mordecai.
09.02.21
Here's mine. 14 tracks, 1 hour:

1. Donda
2. Jail
3. Believe What I Say
4. Hurricane
5. 24
6. Off the Grid
7. Remote Control
8. Wash Us In the Blood*
9. Moon
10. New Again
11. Pure Souls
12. Keep My Spirit Alive
12. Jesus Lord
14. Come to Life

*Obviously not a track from the album, but it's a 2020 single and I think it fits snugly on the album between Remote Control and Moon.

I think Donda as an intro hits hard and sets the theme. Jail is the true opener, and is the best example of his current production style. Believe What I Say as a boppy Graduation/808s throwback. Hurricane as an early slow jam capped nicely by the feel-good 24. Then tracks 6 - 8 as a solid run of harder/darker tracks (including Wash Us in the Blood). Moon as a mid-album interlude/reset. 10-12 as a melodic/gospel run of tracks building up to the one-two punch of Jesus Lord and Come to Life as the epic closer.

Link: https://open.spotify.com/playlist/0wwmRnMOwz4qITIlkjqwnY?si=235b8a67e7d84207

Mordecai.
09.02.21
also, God Breathed can get in the bin

Pangea
09.02.21
delete every track but jesus lord tbh

JohnnyoftheWell
09.02.21
justice for Donda Chant

but yh, Jesus Lord / Off the Grid / Moon / Ok Ok / Believe What I Say EP plz

DrGonzo1937
09.03.21
Love these reimagined blogs. I’m def gonna try it this way

Storm In A Teacup
09.03.21
Even sampling the best songs this seems dumbed down from the days of Yeesus

Sowing
09.03.21
Glad this is helpful Gonz, I need to remember to stick with this series.

gschwen
09.04.21
Listened to the full album yesterday, then Sowing’s mix this morning, and then some of the “omissions” from the follow up playlists. Agree that “Remote Control” and “Moon” could replace some of the tracks on Sowing’s list. “Jail”, “Jesus Lord”, and “Come to Life” seem like standouts, and I’d probably drop “Off the Grid” and “Heaven and Hell”. If I’m being honest with myself, there’s not more than four great songs on Donda. I never felt like even the full version of Donda was a slog, but there’s more lows than highs.

JizzInMyPants
09.14.21
@sowing dont sleep on ok ok pt2, far superior to the other one

Piglet
09.14.21
1. Jail
2. God Breathed
3. Off The Grid
4. Hurricane
5. Praise God
6. 24
7. Moon
8. Heaven and Hell
9. Jesus Lord
10. New Again
11. Come To Life
12. Come To Life

DIS IS THE TRACKLIST. IF U DISAGREE DEN U WRONG.
source: ive got better taste than u nd i scrobbled dis more 😎

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