Kanye West - Donda 2 (V2.22.22 Miami) Music Album Reviews

Kanye West - Donda 2 (V2.22.22 Miami) Music Album Reviews
Released exclusively on a device called the Stem Player, the first version of Kanye’s 11th album is lackluster and undercooked. It does not bode well for any future updates or revamps. 

For all the theatrics, mythmaking, and assholery that come along with a Kanye West album, at the center of it all used to be the music. I challenge anyone to watch the first two episodes of jeen-yuhs, the new three-part documentary about West’s early years, and not come away feeling a little bit nostalgic for a bygone era. Times when the hunger in Kanye’s raps could consume you like they did Mos Def, who looked on in awe as Ye rapped an a capella version of “Two Words.” Or when his irrational confidence and drive had this innocent charm to it, like the scenes of him going door to door in the Roc-a-Fella offices trying to get anyone he could to listen to “All Falls Down.”

The documentary began shooting years before the release of his debut album, 2004’s The College Dropout, a project Kanye and the directors approach as not just another batch of songs, but a soul-wrenching outpouring. An album nurtured and stressed over. An album that bum-rushed through industry politics, skeptics, and even a near-death experience. An album Kanye believed in so wholeheartedly that even before it lifted him from the shadows to the limelight, he spoke about it as if the world would stop spinning without it.

Somewhere along the way—I might point to the era around The Life of Pablo and I’m sure some would say earlier—that ego was no longer a piece of the art, but the art itself. The music became an afterthought, a mere bullet point in a Kanye machine more concerned with clothing lines, Forbes list rankings, and a pivot to “free thinking,” an excuse to pretend his dumb tweets and political stances were actually genius.

True to this direction, Donda 2, the sequel to last year’s Donda, is not chiefly concerned with the music. It hasn’t even been officially labeled Donda 2 yet—instead, it’s designated “V2.22.22 Miami” (the date and location of the most recent Donda 2 listening party) like it’s an iOS update. That seems to be what Kanye wants anyway. The album was released exclusively on the Stem Player, a $200 gadget that he believes is revolutionary new technology but is really a glorified iPod Shuffle. (You would think the device that is going to change the game would be able to hold more than 8GB.) The tennis ball-sized contraption allows you to isolate a specific element of a song, an idea that is fine for about five minutes until you realize listening to a song is way more fun without having to choose your own adventure through it. The 16 tracks uploaded on the device so far are hardly even finished. The idea of the Stem Player is that Kanye will update and revamp the album as he sees fit, which some may laud as innovative or iconoclastic, but it comes off as an excuse to put out lackluster, undercooked music and label it as a fluid, ever-changing art piece that may never be complete. Does this inherently make Donda 2 somewhat critic-proof?

It does not. This crudely unfinished dump of songs is hiding behind a spectacle. But unlike the G.O.O.D Friday buildup to My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy or the Madison Square Garden fashion show before The Life of Pablo, this spectacle is not designed to draw attention to the music but to distract from how Kanye’s passion has shifted: from making some of the most culture-defining albums of the last two decades to dreaming of being spoken about in the same breath as Steve Jobs and Elon Musk.

There’s no larger indictment of Kanye than him misfiring on arguably his greatest skill of them all: curation. For all the messiness of later Kanye records, his ability to bring any rapper into the fold and handpick the right bits and pieces of their style to let them shine was unmatched. I mean c’mon, Desiigner sounds pretty good on Pablo, and on the original Donda, Fivio Foreign was briefly the hottest rapper in New York. The only guest who sounds like they have a pulse on Donda 2 is Vory, whose sweet bellowing over one of those quintessential orchestral Kanye and Co. beats on “Lord Lift Me Up” is hypnotic. Future also sounds impassioned on “Keep It Burning”—but Kanye’s verse is muffled and unfinished.

The rest of the album’s collaborators suggest that Kanye is either scraping the bottom of the barrel or calling any rapper on the Billboard charts to see who will show up. Soulja Boy, sued multiple times last year for alleged sex crimes, phones in a shoddily mixed verse. The XXXTentacion hooks on “Selfish” and “True Love” feel minor and unmemorable, like they’re just there to fill space. Unlucky for everyone, Jack Harlow arrives doing a hacky tough-guy Drake impression.

The Harlow-assisted “Louie Bags” is probably the most disappointing track on the album. Not because it’s the worst but because, had it been treated with the attention to detail that Kanye used to be known for, it could have been great. Over a thumping beat, Kanye mourns the passing of Virgil Abloh in the most Kanye way possible: “I stopped buying Louis bags after Virgil passed,” he raps repeatedly on the chorus, sounding downbeat. Kanye’s verses don’t build off that. In fact, it’s more mumbled nonsense that would be tolerable if this was a leaked demo and not an official release.

This is a recurring motif on Donda 2: Songs have a cool moment or two, but do not hold any shape. “Security” has a hilariously great opening line (“No you can’t be on my mama album”) but no other bar has any weight to it, as if it was freestyled to be replaced later. “Get Lost” has serious 808s and Heartbreak vibes, with his voice submerged in so much Auto-Tune he sounds nearly robotic, yet as a straight a capella it bores me. The production on “Sci-Fi” is rich, though tacking on an SNL monologue from Kim Kardashian—where she boasts about Ye by calling him “the best rapper of all time” and “the richest Black man in America”—feels like the weird equivalent of a movie character cutting out photos of their crush and pasting them on the wall. Kanye is allowed to handle his breakup like a human, but why not put some of those feelings in the lyrics?

There’s no Silicon Valley-speak that can explain why Kanye should have released any music in this shape. It’s not ready or complete and one can only speculate that he was racing to meet some kind of external deadline, like the Netflix documentary or the new Yeezy Gap and Balenciaga collaboration. If so, that would align with the direction Kanye has been headed for a minute now: Music as a way to boost visibility for ventures that make him way more money. Like many, I have a hard time coming to terms with the fact that Kanye West, the rapper who made The College Dropout and Late Registration and so many more labors of passion and love and emotion, would reach the point of releasing anything as hollow as Donda 2 (V2.22.22 Miami). Every now and then, he can still crank out his signature sweeping production or drop a line that stops you in your tracks. But no minor edit or revamped version of Donda 2 can conceal the album’s inherent flaw: It is presented as a revolutionary work but it is decidedly a non-event.

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About Wanni Arachchige Udara Madusanka Perera

Hey, I'm Perera! I will try to give you technology reviews(mobile,gadgets,smart watch & other technology things), Automobiles, News and entertainment for built up your knowledge.
Kanye West - Donda 2 (V2.22.22 Miami) Music Album Reviews Kanye West - Donda 2 (V2.22.22 Miami) Music Album Reviews Reviewed by Wanni Arachchige Udara Madusanka Perera on March 09, 2022 Rating: 5


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