I miss the ‘Old Kanye,’ you should too

“Donda” release is problematic and unappealing

Kanye West 01 | Wikimedia Commons | Photo Courtesy

By now it has been over a week since Kanye West’s latest album ‘Donda’ has been released amid a sea of controversy. Boasting a nearly two-hour runtime, the album would be much too long even if it was filled with amazing tracks — it is not.

I’ve personally spent the past week trying to work my way through and listen to each song on the album to no avail. I found myself having to take a break after only two or three songs, not because the music itself is necessarily bad, but rather due to a feeling of anger that we as a society still find it of value to give individuals like Kanye West a platform to stand on. 

Anger isn’t even the worst emotion I found to be brought out by this album. After I was finally able to make it to the end, I was left with a feeling of disgust instead of the inspiration and joy some people claim to experience. 

I realize that nearly all of this disgust comes from the inclusion of the tracks ‘Jail pt 2’ and ‘New Again’ which feature artists that Kanye, for some reason, thought were completely necessary. I found it nearly impossible not to simply glance over the song titles and immediately come to the realization that despite each song title being linked to religious meaning, there isn’t a single track that isn’t about Kanye himself.

During the release party for ‘Donda’, Kanye came to the decision to bring DaBaby and Marilyn Manson out on the front porch of his childhood home and in doing so, displaying to the world what he really values. For a man who likes to complain about his music being leaked and released without his approval, Kanye truly doesn’t care about or understand consent. 

For those of you who don’t know, Marilyn Manson is a musician who is currently facing four lawsuits which include accusations such as rape, sexual assault, sexual battery, human trafficking, unlawful imprisonment, physcial and emotional abuse and grooming. 

Now you may say, “Well, maybe he had recorded this song prior to the public knowing anything about these cases.” This is just simply not true. Manson has many documented and publicized accusations of sexual misconduct stemming as far back as the 1990s. 

The simple fact that Kanye could sit down knowing all the details of the allegations against Manson, and still choose to have him sing the vocals, “Guess I’m going to jail tonight,” sickens me and I hope to god it sickens each and every one of you. 

By giving these “men” a platform, not only is Kanye spitting in the face of every single woman who has ever faced abuse or assault themselves, he is laughing at every person who says they are an ally to those who have experienced these atrocities. 

Anyone who chooses to identify themselves as Christian should also be offended by the release of this album. I have yet to find a song that appears to be religiously inspired or had anything to do with Christianity. 

Sure, there is a song titled ‘Lord I Need You’, however, the true meaning behind this track is just a reflection on his relationship with Kim Kardashian West, his estranged wife. It also becomes apparent throughout the album that Kanye truly does view himself as above each and every other person, almost god-like, which does make it feel ironic to hear him talk about “burning false idols.”

“I do not believe you can honestly say you enjoy this album unless you are completely apathetic towards anyone who has even been a victim to any form of abuse or assault.”

Now if enabling abusers and some slight sacrilege aren’t enough to turn you off from this album, maybe accepting and perpetuating homophobia will. You may remember I mentioned earlier that DaBaby was also an individual Kanye chose to showcase to the world from his release party. 

As if to put the symbolic final nail in the coffin, Kanye added an uninspiring DaBaby verse to the ‘Jail pt 2’ track. In this verse, DaBaby goes on to complain about all he had to do was say one thing that people disagreed with and we all decide to throw him out. Well, what he didn’t share is that those views were disparaging and outright dangerous to the LGBTQ+ community. 

I don’t think it is completely fair to judge an album based entirely on its featured artists, but in the case of ‘Donda’, the creator himself is almost every part as problematic as the guests. It goes as far back as to when he burst on stage and used his power and influence to push Taylor Swift to the side as an emerging female artist and say she didn’t deserve to be there. 

There have been countless issues arising from Kanye since then, including his support of former president Donald Trump, his own “campaign” for presidency, the apparent use of his wife and children for relevancy and not to mention his own blatant disregard for consent through the release of his 2016 song and music video for ‘Famous’. 

It is important to note that much of the controversy surrounding Kanye seems to stem from his continued struggle with mental health. However, it’s equally vital to remember that being mentally ill does not make it okay to support and celebrate the disgusting actions and beliefs that many contributors to the album bring. 

I tried extremely hard to go into this album with an open mind and to take it solely for its artistic content and qualities, which Kanye seemed to try very hard to make nearly impossible. 

After listening, I believe that even if it had been recorded without the problematic features, had Kanye not had a history with misunderstanding consent and negative treatment of women, I still don’t think the music is good enough to stand on its own. 

If it were possible to judge this work solely on music, I still wouldn’t like the album. There wasn’t a single song that held my attention. Frequently I would forget I was even listening to something. It says a lot that an album that has been so symbolically upsetting due to its featured artists can be so creatively uninteresting. 

Don’t get me wrong, I’ve been a fan of Kanye since the 2008 release of ‘808’s and Heartbreak’ and I genuinely believe that at one time he was the most important and visionary artist in the industry. However, there comes a time when it’s necessary for even the biggest of fans to take a step back and say enough is enough when supporting problematic and dangerous artists.

People who say that this is some of Kanye’s best work, or good music at all, are either ignoring every critical assessment of the album or are so preoccupied with their self-entitled “differentness” that they’ve lost the ability to tell the difference between good music and arrogant drivel. 

After taking everything into account, I think anyone who gives this album high praise needs to take a long moment to evaluate themselves. I do not believe you can honestly say you enjoy this album unless you are completely apathetic towards anyone who has ever been a victim to any form of abuse or assault.

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