Donda and Certified Lover Boy amassed a great deal of attention when they dropped—for these are two of the most prominent artists of our generation. Both albums came out within four days of each other, with Kanye West releasing Donda first. West and Drake have famously been in a feud for years, so it’s only fair to ask the question: Which album is better?
Kanye Crafts an Experience Not Just an Album
If I am being honest, I have not been a fan of Drake or Kanye West for years. I think Drake’s title of “rapper” has been put in question by a lot of his more recent projects, and Kanye … well he’s Kanye. Before we get into why Drake’s new album is hot garbage in comparison, let's get the setlist of Donda out of the way. I am going to be as objective as possible with pros and cons to the album, but I make no promises on how kind I will be to Certified Lover Boy.
While I have not always loved Kanye as a person, I have always respected his artistic process. I used to listen to The College Dropout album daily. Though his more recent projects have not been anything I looked twice at, Jesus is King was the butt of my many jokes when it was released. However, even in his most lackluster albums, I have to acknowledge that as a producer he is a genius. That is something Drake simply doesn’t have and never will. Well, unless they squash the beef and collaborate again. Maybe we’ll get a Forever part two, but maybe I’m just reminiscing on when these artists were at their best.
If you’re looking for hype beats and 808s, you came with the wrong expectations. That's not inherently a bad thing though. The first few tracks of the album–yes even the “Donda Chant”–set you up for a more immersive experience. The first three tracks let your excitement gradually increase in a very smooth transition that is almost chilling if your headphones are on and that’s all you're focusing on. Kanye lets the tracks speak for themselves, and they hold their own because of their production quality. On “Jail,” the track elevates Jay-Z and Kanye’s voices and is a long overdue collaboration between old friends. At least they claim to still be friends.
“Off the Grid” is the first song that really picks up the pace, and it is incredibly refreshing. Fivio Foreign’s verse is one of the best features on the album and makes it a fantastic song to drive to. While the song is undoubtedly more hype than the tracks preceding, it sort of paves the way for a slightly calmer “Hurricane.” None of the transitions in this album are jarring or out of place; it just flows.
Two tracks later, listeners are treated to “Jonah.” This track is jam packed with emotion from the vocals of Vory to the tear jerking verse by Lil Durk.
Skipping a few tracks, “Moon” is a song that had a lot of attention due to leaks prior to the release, and it definitely lives up to its own hype. The vibe of the song is ethereal, and it is fantastic. With the collaboration of Kid Cudi and Don Toliver, the song gets better with each listen.
While I was not a fan of his album, Jesus is King, I'm also not tonedeaf like an article by The Guardian. I recognize that “Jesus Lord'' is still an incredible track. Kanye was incredibly vulnerable and gave his fans an insight into what he’s been going through in his family and otherwise.
For the sake of brevity, I’ll sum up the album with this: Donda is an excellent project that highlights West’s spirituality and vulnerability, and the features followed suit. While it is long, this album moves and when listened to as an experience it only gets better with each listen.
Alright now that I’m done being nice … let’s talk about Certified Lover Boy. First, how much did Drake pay for that album cover? Any kid playing with photoshop could crop that out in a few minutes. Speaking of a few minutes, if you want to complain about how long Donda is, Drake's album is still about an hour and a half. The only seemingly positive thing I can say about the album is that it sounds like Drake. All of his recent projects sound so similar that it all blend together into one sound I can only describe as Drake. Not once in the span of an hour and a half does Drake change his flow. These songs start to blend together–and not in a good way. It sounds like every other new Drake song; there is absolutely nothing unique about this album. I mean even the Drake clones make better music nowadays. Sure he’s selling albums, but we all know how obsessed Drake fans are. The production quality on this album is so basic that we’re bound to hear it in the background of our favorite shows because they need music that won’t distract people from the plot. His producers clearly phoned it in on this one. Nothing stands out on this album, but I can’t really fault Drake considering he doesn’t even have a producer credit on the album!
This album is boring from front to back. I would rather listen to Jake Paul’s music for an hour and a half because at least that would be entertaining. Drake's flow used to be his biggest asset, but now it’s his biggest crutch. He never switches it up and because of that his songs are all just dull. The features are the best part of the album, but no one can save this garbage fire.
Long story short, Donda offers listeners a unique and spiritual experience that is wonderfully produced–and while long–is worth it. Certified Lover Boy is nothing new out of Drake’s camp, and it is genuinely boring and uninspired. I am convinced he only dropped it because of the hype around his beef with Kanye.
This viewpoint is by Sam Shipe
Drake Certifies More Than Just His ‘Lover Boy’ Status
I’m not going to yell from the rooftops that Certified Lover Boy is Drake’s best album of all time. That would be a blatant lie. But, it’s an exceptional album that showcases his diverse lyricism and gives fans an intimate glimpse into his life lately. And, of course, it's exponentially better than the arbitrary mess that is Donda.
Drake kicks the album off with a standout song on the album, “Champagne Poetry.” The song switches beats two minutes in and slows down, thus Drake shifts his flow—he rattles off all his qualms, which provides for a raw and personal listening experience for the listener. “No Friends in the Industry” is another notable track. In this, he discusses how his circle is small, because of all the fakes that crawl the industry *cough cough Kanye West.* He addresses his past feuds, with West being among one of them, and how he’s always ready to stand off against them. The passion and forceful emotion in his voice when he raps is at the forefront driving this song. This makes the song much more impactful.
Drake and West both share several features from the same artists: Lil Baby, Lil Durk, JAY-Z, Travis Scott, Young Thug, Ty Dolla $ign, and West’s close confidant— and other half of Kids See Ghosts— Kid Cudi.
Champagne Papi blows West far out of the water and wins the award for best use of artists on his features. Drake actually let each of the artists have their own spotlight to shine, giving them their own time for verses. “Fair Trade” and “IMY2” are the best of the features. In “Fair Trade,” Scott creates a catchy tone, and Drake reflects on the relatable theme of losing toxic people around him. This song is an effortless listen. The opening of “IMY2” is a snippet from a Juice Wrld interview, with Juice saying, “I think that’s what life is about. Truly finding yourself, and then closing your eyes and dying in your sleep.” Drake and Cudi pour out their feelings in regard to their careers, personal lives, and how they’ve grown. Cudi pushes Drake to dig deeper in this song.
People often say they “miss the old Drake,” because they preferred his old 2015-and-before flow and style, but the reality is he’s grown into a matured version of that. If he still talked about the same topics he did back then, or never switched up his flow, then people would just say he’s “boring” or a “has-been.”
Oh, and the album cover of Certified Lover Boy might be the pregnant emoji in different variations, but at least it has an album cover and isn’t all black.
Ah, now let’s switch gears and begin with the infamous “Donda Chant.” Yes, it’s a tribute to his late mother—Donda—but if you don’t know that, the sentimental message gets lost in the song. Listening to it is like trying to decipher Morse code, without knowing Morse.
This album is too. damn. long. It’s overwhelming. The tracklist is 27 songs with a total time of almost two hours. West attempts to be artistic in this ‘creative endeavor,’ but he ends up being more like a chicken with it’s head cut off. Yes, Drake’s album is almost an hour and a half, but the difference is his is much more consistent.
Donda is all over the place and extremely inconsistent. Yes I’m talking to you “Jail,” “God Breathed,” “Off the Grid,” “Jesus Lord,” “Pure Souls,” “Come to Life,” and “Jesus Lord pt. 2.” I’m all in support of a song over five minutes, but the key to that is it has to actually be executed well. These songs all missed the mark, because they dragged and droned on. Don’t get me wrong, if all of these songs were cut in half they would still be really bad. But, just a little better because they would be over in three minutes and my ears wouldn't have to suffer for as long.
“Moon” is a diamond in the rough and, even then, it has a low clarity—leaving it dull, spotty, and poorly cut. The only redeemable quality it has is that Kid Cudi and Don Toliver are featured on it.
The end of “Remote Control” has a sample from the glob-glo-gab-galab—and for what?! Now we have this outdated meme; the futuristic, obscureness that is this track; and West reflecting on his faith in God. Now I’m even more lost than I was before, which I didn’t think was humanly possible.
Donda is West’s haphazard stream of consciousness over barely-there instruments, inconsistent choirs, and an unfinished creative vision—with him slapping the gospel label over it.
This viewpoint is by Arianna Sergio
Pros of Donda and cons of Certified Lover Boy
Donda is wonderfully produced
Donda is a full fledged listening experience
Donda exhibits actual lyricism and not shallow Drake-isms
Certified Lover Boy is not unique or groundbreaking in the slightest
Certified Lover Boy has an uncreative album cover
Pros of Certified Lover Boy and cons of Donda
Certified Lover Boy has better use of its featured artists
Certified Lover Boy has better lyricism and gives the listener an intimate glimpse into Drake’s life and how he’s has matured
Certified Lover Boy tracklist is more consistent
Certified Lover Boy isn’t as long as Donda
Certified Lover Boy actually has an album cover, unlike Donda
Featured Image: Taylor Sheridan