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Journalists review, compare albums
September 9, 2021
Review: Drake, Kanye West release solid albums
Over the past week, two of the arguably most anticipated albums in the rap music industry have dropped. Kanye West’s “Donda” and Drake’s “Certified Lover Boy” are both topping Apple Music’s Top Songs charts and are No. 1 and No. 2 on the Top Albums charts. “Certified Lover Boy” dropped just five days after “Donda,” which added to the existing drama between the rappers. Fans online have been debating which album is better but also judging the character of each artist.
“Donda” is West’s tenth studio album and has 27 tracks. West took a month and a half to release “Donda” on Aug. 29 after the original rumored release date in early July. Before “Donda” was released, West held multiple previews via Apple Music and live streams, each getting darker and more disturbing. “Donda” was named after West’s late mother and alludes to her multiple times, including in the first track “Donda Chant.” The song repeats the word “Donda” over and over, mimicking the speed of West’s mother’s heartbeat when she was passing away. Donda had similar sounds to his previous albums, with slight changes of attitude through lyrics. West has an overlap with a God theme and his self-awareness.
“Certified Lover Boy,” released Sept. 3, is Drake’s sixth studio album and has 21 tracks. The album has a variety of sounds and lyrics, all unique but also similar to the classic Drake style of a luxurious lifestyle and being petty in relationships. Songs like ‘Yebba’s Heartbreak feat. Yebba’ reminds listeners of iconic sad Drake songs like ‘Marvin’s Room’ and ‘Teenage Fever’ from previous albums, although Drake is not actually on the track. ‘Champagne Poetry,’ ‘Girls Want Girls feat. Lil Baby’ and ‘Race My Mind’ are more true to the lover side of Drake, with lyrics and sounds both chill and full of emotion. There are also various tracks on the album that are more true to the tough side of Drake, like ‘Knife Talk’ and ‘No Friends in the Industry.’
Both albums are worth the listen, however, they were too overhyped for mid-level results. The production quality was outstanding on both. Only “Donda” has songs on the Billboard Top 100 and is on the Billboard 200 Albums charts. On Apple Music’s Top Songs and Top 100 charts, both albums and songs are mixed at the top. “Certified Lover Boy” has out-streamed “Donda” in three days, despite more attention seeming to be on West on social media platforms.
The two artists have had beef for 12 years, and the close release date was predicted to add to the drama by fans, and they are right. West posted a screenshot of a map taken on his phone and it showed Drake’s home address in Toronto but has since been deleted. Drake responded with a video of him laughing, seeming not to care. Additionally, people believe the delay of West’s album was due to him waiting for Drake to drop his album because it was not out with a date yet. This has not been confirmed, but I think it is unlikely.
Overall, I loved both albums and artists, but Drake’s album comes out on top. The variety of the album was much better and felt more genuine than “Donda.” “Donda” was really good, however, it felt like he was trying to prove something, especially after having release dates that he never met. Although that may be classic for Kanye, I overall didn’t love it as much as I wanted to.
Review: Kanye West’s new album ‘Donda’ is worth one listen, but not another
Releasing his 10th studio album, Kanye West tributes his mother Donda West, who passed away on Nov. 10, 2007. “Donda,” the official album title, came available for digital streaming Saturday, Aug. 29.
Featuring 27 tracks, and despite being delayed for a month, fans alike pushed the album to No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 200. Upon its release, West took to Twitter and Instagram to allege that Def Jam Recording, which is owned by Universal Music Group, released the album without his approval. Even with all considered, “Donda” debuted as underwhelming and inconsistent to my expectations.
“Donda Chant” is the official introduction of the album, and it gives a quick, 53 second insight into what the album is about. “Donda” can be heard repeating multiple times throughout the intro, signifying his mother’s heartbeat before her death. While average listeners won’t pick this up on their first listen, many fans quickly pointed out the fact.
“Guess who’s going to jail tonight / God going to post my bail tonight” is a line that can be hard throughout the song. While it’s not my personal favorite song on the album, this track felt like an extended introduction to the album. The production remained the same throughout the majority of the song, which was a little annoying, but the verses and the features made up for the disappointment. Many speculate that the lyrics tell the story of Jesus’s incarceration before the crucifixion.
Starting off with a hard baseline, “God Breathed” jumps the listener right into a hard setting of the album. Quick verses by West, such as “I know God breathed on this / I know he got his hands on this,” align with the bass to provide a satisfactory listen. The song then transforms to a choir-based background, with vocal runs and verses by Vory, the featured artist. The song is a great track to listen to and deserves its spot on the album, along with a listen or two.
The fourth track, “Off The Gird,” started off very weak. Playboi Carti ruined the track, and would’ve been better complimented by another featured artist. With that being said, Fivio Foreign’s verses carried the song in my first listen, but didn’t win over the track. Overall, I don’t see myself listening to this track.
“Hurricane” has gotten a lot of attention from fans of Lil Baby, The Weeknd and West, seeming as the best track found in the album. Upon my first listen, I would have to agree. The sampled choir that backs Abel, who is the lead singer in The Weekend, ties the track nicely together. One of my favorite lines from Kayne is “God made it rain / the devil made it hail / dropped out of school / but I’m the one at Yale” and it ties together the general overview of the song.
Starting off with a sample of a scripture reading, “Praise God” starts off intriguing. Quickly switching to vocals by Baby Keem over a strong bass, the transitions throughout the song between West, Travis Scott and Baby Keem are very fluid. “We are going to praise our way out of the dark” is one of the many verses that talk about the power of praising God. Overall, I thought the song was very high quality, and was definitely re-listenable.
With a weak start, track No. 6 is one that I would normally skip. The autotune did not match the beat well, and the beat was a lousy excuse to extend a track. This is one of my least favorite songs on the album, and it becomes almost impossible to hear the lyrics over the distracting overlay of unsatisfactory vocals.
“Ok Ok” marks track No. 7 on the album, and the song started off pretty strong. After hearing the bass line and the first couple of verses, I was expecting a trap rundown of the beat. Unfortunately, almost no percussion production was heard in the entire song, but the jumpy bass and the verses tied together nicely.
With an organ-style synth beginning, the track sounds a lot like a track that would be found on West’s previous album. Quickly transitioning to seemingly never-ending West verses, “Junya” is filled with a repeating synth loop, with some bass riffs thrown in here-and-there. Overall, I never felt compelled to skip this track, and would rate it about 7/10. One thing I wish that this track held though was percussion production, but instead, all the listener is left with is lousy claps.
Taking on a pop-like beat, “Believe What I Say” has a lot of potential to be a radio hit. While there’s no music video, there’s a lot of vocal samples and effects that can be heard throughout the background of the track, with very catchy lyrics. One thing I will say about the song is that the length is pretty long, however, when the song was finished, I found myself debating if it was really the end. Marking track No. 9 on the album, this is one of my favorite West songs.
“Dear God make it all right / Only you can make it all right” is a verse that is heard in the beginning of the track with an organ-styled synth in the back of the track. To me, this song sounded like something you would hear from the well-known R&B singer, SZA. Overall, I would rate the song a 9/10, but, like many other tracks, I wish there was more percussion production.
Finally adding in production components, in terms of procession with kicks, snares and claps, “Remote Control” is a song that’s worth listening to. With sampled whistles, different basses and catchy lyrics, “Remote Control” is a great addition to the album that deserves a listen or two.
Track No. 12 is titled “Moon,” and features vocals from Don Toliver and Kid Cudi. Instantly on the first listen, the track reminded me something from Labrinth’s current releases. With soft guitar riffs, vocal effects and riverbed vocals, “Moon” is a track like no other on the album. Perfect for listening to while reading, doing homework or doing any activity, “Moon” is a healing track, and became one of my favorite songs on the first listen.
The beginning of “Heaven and Hell” consists of high vocal notes with basic claps and kicks. Since the beginning of the track, I already felt an urge to skip the track. Unfortunately, that urge continued to grow throughout the track until the middle. The high and off-beat vocals that became overwhelming were silenced by a mid-production break, with high bass and a drop. While I enjoyed the drop and the rest of the song, the beginning was a pain to sit through.
“Donda” is track No. 14 on the album, and while I had high expectations, they were not met. Once again using many samples, West tells a story through the track, which was named after his mother. On my first listen, I didn’t enjoy the track, but it grew on me after multiple listens.
Something about “Keep My Spirit Alive” drew me in to listen to the whole track. The flow of vocals over the hip-hop production tied nicely together, and I felt compelled to listen to it again after it ended. Overall, I would rate the track a 9/10. While it was lyrically sound, the production felt overly repeated, and I would’ve liked a switch up, or at least a larger variety of sounds in the chorus.
Starting off big, “Jesus Lord” is probably the best-sounding track on the album on the first listen. At the start, I was suspecting that Euphoria-producer and songwriter Labrinth was behind the synths that were heard throughout the track, I was upset to learn that it was not the case. However, the track gets a 10/10 rating from me.
While track No. 17 has strong lyrics, the production reminded me of 2000’s Nicki Minaj. Not to mean any disrespect to either artist, but the synths that were heard throughout the entire song did not seem to fit the idea of the track, and I was disappointed. In fact, the title “New Again,” did not feel “new” to me. If I had to rate the track, it would get a 5/10 from me.
Previously leaked on TikTok, “Tell The Vision” has strong piano chords that are heard throughout the entire track. Even so, the chords got boring after a couple of seconds, and I felt bored and compelled to click the “next” button that was on my screen. While still worthy of a listen, as the lyrics contribute to the story of the album, I did not enjoy the experience that the track offered.
With amazing vocals coming from the choir in the beginning of the track, “Lord I Need You” continued to impress me with full productional values and an amazing flow from West. Instantly one of my favorite songs on the album, this track is a must-listen. “God got us / God got the children / the Devil run the playground / but God on the building” is one of the repeated verses found on the track.
Track No. 20 titled “Pure Souls,” is a decent track that deserves a listen. While telling an important story, West’s vocals sound great with the production of the song, and features organ-styled synths throughout the track. Overall, the track would get a 8/10 rating from me, as I did get a little bored towards the end of the track, but nonetheless did not feel annoyed.
“Ever wish you had another life?” is a question that is asked repeatedly throughout the song. The song is based on a self reflection, seemingly, and is accompanied nicely by the soft production throughout the song. Overall, I thought the song was well-done, but I don’t see myself coming back to re-listen to it. Overall, I’d rate the track a 7/10.
Probably the most-anticipated track on the album, “No Child Left Behind” was previously trending on TikTok before its official release. Many listeners were quick to point out that the track sounds like something from a Euphoria soundtrack, one in which Labrinth seemed to have production influence in, but, nonetheless, the track is a great closing. The production is what makes the track as good as it is, and West’s vocals pair over it nicely.
Overall, I thought the album was decently done, and the production quality and verses under-matched my expectations. All in all, the album had a mix between healing songs, memorable songs about his mother, featured great samples, other artists and the album told a story that was full of different emotions. I definitely see myself listening to some of the songs on a daily basis, but on the other hand I see myself forgetting the majority of tracks that seemed to fill in a timeline.
Review: Lorde’s ‘Solar Power’ sheds light on environment, stardom
New Zealand singer-songwriter Ella Marija Lani Yelich-O’Connor, known better as Lorde, continues to rise in the charts with the release of her third album ‘Solar Power.’ Released on Aug. 20, the album highlights light melodies created and produced by Lorde and Jack Antonoff, as the singer touches on all topics under the sun. Lorde’s bright voice fits in so well with the relaxing, soothing chords featured in each song. This album was a new sound for Lorde, but she faults in the repetitiveness of each song.
From the effects of climate change on the earth, to how her rise to fame has changed her entire life, Lorde doesn’t leave any aspect of her life out on her new album. Lorde will start her ‘Solar Power’ international world tour on Feb. 26, 2022, in New Zealand, and will tour in the U.S. on April 3, 2022. In an effort to reduce her waste and decrease her effect on the environment for merchandise, Lorde is releasing a Music Box, which a special alternative to a CD.
“I realized I had no idea where my merch’s cotton came from, for example, or who was stitching it, or if it was new or recycled … and once I started digging into (details) like that, I couldn’t go back,” Lorde said in an interview with Billboard. “I couldn’t in good conscience ask my supporters to buy T-shirts without knowing I’d done everything I could to make them a little better for the environment. And, I made this personal, private commitment to never waste any food, and (now) I really don’t, I have a compost and I eat everything that I buy.”
a beautiful opening song – Alyssa
Lorde wrote on her Spotify page that she wrote most of the chords in the song when sitting in the New Zealand sun, and you can almost feel that peaceful radiance. The start of the song has a very strong fairy-tail theme, that creates a very warm and comforting vibe when combined with her angelic sounding voice. She then adds more drive to the song by adding in the drums and speeding up the beating, creating a rhythm that gets the listener to start moving with the song. The smooth transition into the end of the song goes from a melodic opening to a funky, 70s pop song.
bright, fun beat – Alyssa
The first single released off the album on July 11, ‘Solar Power,’ features backing vocals from stars Phoebe Bridgers and Clairo. The song, featuring many lyrics surrounding nature and summer, highlights a catchy chorus. Some fans have heard religious references within the song, including Lorde singing “Lead the boys and girls onto the beaches / Come one, come all, I’ll tell you my secrets / I’m kinda like a prettier Jesus.” This correlation comes as a reference to climate change and how that connects to religion, which we’ve seen before from Billie Eilish’s song ‘All the Good Girls Go to H***.’ Traces of George Michael’s ‘Freedom! ’90’ is also a nice touch that takes many listens to clearly identify.
dreamy and lyrical – alyssa
Coming from the upbeat ‘Solar Power,’ ‘California’ gives off a new vibe with soft melodies. It provides a unique perspective on how a famous celebrity views the world she lives in, almost sounding as if she wishes she wasn’t apart of it, with lyrics including “It’s all just a dream / I wanna wake up, I wanna wake up.” The overall beat she created for the song is very relaxed and so simple to the point that it could be considered lo-fi music if the words were to be deleted from the track. This song is perfect for just background noise while doing house chores or everyday tasks.
Stoned at the Nail Salon
sound makes up for faults – alyssa
One of the more melancholy songs, ‘Stoned at the Nail Salon,’ dropped on July 21 as the second single to drop before the album. Lorde focuses on the passing of time, and reflects on her life as she, supposedly, ponders and wonders “Maybe I’m just stoned at the nail salon again.” The song is really beautiful, but it takes a few listens to really appreciate it. The repetition of some of the lyrics can get boring, but the overall message and sound make up for it.
solid choice – alyssa
‘Fallen Fruit’ has a new sound for Lorde. The acoustic guitar is rarely in any of Lorde’s music, but this time it created a relaxed ambiance in the song. The sudden pause half-way through the song catches the attention of listeners, but continues on the same tone from before. The song starts off slowly, with her words drawn out, making it easier for the listener to sing along in combination with the simple and repetitive lyrics. This song is on the slower side, which makes it a solid choice when wanting to set the mood.
Secrets From a Girl (Who’s Seen it All)
use a skip – alyssa
This song is a more upbeat version of the previous song. ‘Secrets From a Girl (Who’s Seen it All)’ is definitely different than all the other songs on this album, even including an interesting voice-over that sounds like she’s directing people at an airport. Personally, this song wasn’t that notable to me, especially after listening to ‘Fallen Fruit,’ which really enjoyed. If you are listening to the album in order, the transition from ‘Fallen Fruit’ to ‘Secrets From a Girl (Who’s Seen it All)’ takes the listener by surprise just because of how different the rhythms of the two songs are.
This album created a whole new sound for Lorde, and I’m loving it. While ‘Mood Ring’ and ‘Solar Power’ are my expected favorites from the album, I also really fell in love with ‘Big Star.’ These songs are so unique compared to the music that Lorde created in 2016, and it’s refreshing to see the difference. While I wish there were more stylistic changes between each song, I overall still really enjoyed this album.
— Alyssa Clark
The Man With the Axe
emotional – michael
This song feels like ‘Feeling Whitney’ by Post Malone. It has a very slow beat, but creates a powerful tune when listening to the words, and is definitely one of those must-haves in a crying playlist type of songs. The use of guitar and her voice makes the song feel simple but also heartfelt at the same time. Nearing the end of the song, there is a rippling sound that was a change of pace to re-engage the listener.
one of my favorites – michael
‘Dominoes’ is a very relaxed song, and it heavily uses ukulele, making it a very easy beat to follow.
powerfully sad – Michael
This song continues to use the same slow beat as much of the rest of her album does. Along with the power of the guitar match, Lorde’s voice in the song shares some of the same characteristics of the previous songs by being slow and easy to follow along, but it also is powerful when listening to the words. With that being said, the song is very hard to fully get through, just because it feels like I have been listening to the same song but different variants of it. This song was written for Lorde’s late dog, Pearl, who died earlier this year.
Leader of a New Regime
more of the same – michael
The first few words were an amazing change of pace, and give the song a new appeal in the first few seconds. However, after the verse is over, the song reverts back into the same melancholiness as the previous songs, with a slow melody and a slow voice to draw out emotion.
Personally, I think that this album is okay. I think I enjoyed listening to it most while just driving at night and relaxing in my room. However, the album felt incredibly repetitive, and I found it getting even harder to finish each song with the exception of ‘Mood Ring,’ ‘Man With an Axe’ and ‘Dominoes.’ These songs spoke differently to me, and really kept my attention while also not making me sigh in disbelief that the song sounded similar to the previous one.
— Michael Ramirez
catchy, fun with a strong meaning – alyssa
‘Mood Ring,’ released Aug. 17, and came out as the third, and last single, before the album was dropped. Lorde has announced that the video is satire, and meant to show how the average white woman appropriates spiritual practices from indigenous groups. In the song, she sings “Ladies, begin your sun salutations / Pluto in Scorpio generation / You can burn sage, and I’ll cleanse the crystals / We can get high, but only if the wind blows.” The chorus sounds like a catchy 2000s pop song, and takes an acoustic melody with the combination of her voice, making the feeling of it very upbeat. When the melody meets her singing style, a very complex song is created, that starts out slow, such as a campfire song, and slowly increases its drive While these lyrics are on the simpler side, it makes it easier for the listener to sing along.
boring and repetitive – michael
The song starts off slowly, which helps to build up suspense. Then, the song starts to gain drive with each instrument that is involved. The song then goes through high and low moments that leave the listener wanting to know which will be next. Her voice tends to echo a little bit, creating a very euphoric feeling while using ad-libs to fill in the gaps.