Donda vs. Certified Lover Boy: The Debate of the Century
This summer, some drama erupted between the fans of hip-hop artists Drake and Kanye West. Both artists had highly anticipated albums that were released within a few days of each other. Their clashing release dates caused massive conflict amongst their fans and amongst the two artists, especially on special media.
"Ye ain’t changin’ s*** for me, it’s set in stone.” - Drake
In a Drake verse in August, he took a shot at West, rapping “Ye ain’t changin’ s*** for me, it’s set in stone.” Kanye retaliated by posting a screenshot of Drake’s home address on Instagram. Drake fans shot back, placing offensive signs on Kanye’s childhood home. All of this controversy set the stage for the releases of Kanye West’s Donda, and Drake’s Certified Lover Boy. Regardless of all the drama, the question remains, which album turned out better?
West released his 27-song album Donda on a Monday morning in August. The release date was very random, but even so, people listened immediately. While the album cover itself is boring and plain black, the rest of the album is quite interesting. Donda starts with a woman saying Kanye West’s mother’s name repeatedly for nearly a minute, representing her final heartbeats before death. West’s signature sound can be heard in his album, but he also took risks. He mixes rap and gospel with other experimental sounds, making things exciting for his listeners.
West includes a few samples on Donda, which is part of the distinguished production that has made him an all time great. The most notable sample is on the song “Believe What I Say,” where West uses Lauryn Hill’s “Doo Wop.”
He also includes feature performances on 23 of the 27 songs, which have many of the album’s highlights. Many of these guests arguably outshine West in these songs; some of the best features on the album come from Roddy Rich, Fivio Foreign, Young Thug, and Playboi Carti.
The themes of the album are pretty obvious; his mother and his faith. He references his faith throughout the album with “God Breathed,” “Praise God,” “Jesus Lord'' and “Off the Grid.” However, the presence of his mother is tougher to find. This isn’t helped by the shortage of women included in the album, as well as the inclusion of men who have been accused of sexual abuse and homophobia.
West’s album is full of highs and lows. This goes for his lyrics, rapping, production, and features throughout the album. Although there are some truly great parts of Donda, it seems somewhat incomplete.
Five days after Donda was released, Drake’s Certified Lover Boy came out. Immediately, rap fans began listening to Drake’s 21-song album. The cover of the album includes 12 emojis of pregnant women of various colors organized into rows.
The intro, “Champagne Poetry,” shows off Drake’s usual rapping style over a sampled beat. The album is similar to a lot of Drake’s previous music; he really didn’t try anything new or take any risks. Even so, his most loyal fans love the album. A lot of the featured artists that appeared on Donda also have roles on Certified Lover Boy, which is interesting considering Kanye and Drake’s feud. These artists include Jay-Z, Young Thug, Kid Cudi, Lil Durk, Lil Baby, and Travis Scott. Some other leading features come from 21 Savage, Lil Wayne, and Future.
The biggest hit so far is “Way 2 Sexy,” which features Future and Young Thug. The song is satirical, and the lyrics are not so meaningful, but the catchy chorus from Future has propelled it to the top of the charts. The album is predictable, and Drake does not show much growth since his last album. He raps about his problems with love and his big ego, just like in the past. It seems too long, and there’s too much going on. Nonetheless, it can be quite enjoyable. A listener can simply appreciate some of Drake’s clever lines and consistent style.
These two rap albums turned out to be very different but still have similar downsides. Each album seems like it is too long and contains too many topics. Both artists loaded their albums with features to take some of the pressure off of their own abilities. Meanwhile, they both have impressive high points that can be greatly enjoyed. However, Donda reaches higher highs and has far more unfamiliar elements, which makes it the superior album to me.