Album Review: Donda vs. CLB


Emily Zhu, Online Staff Writer

Last month, two of the most popular rappers of all time, Kanye West and Drake, released their latest albums, sparking a heated debate. Both albums were extremely hyped-up by the hip-hop community and took the internet by storm. Kanye’s Donda, an emotional tribute to his late mother, was his tenth studio album. Drake’s Certified Lover Boy (CLB) was his first studio album since 2018. That said, fans’ expectations for both artists were sky-high. Although the two albums are different in several ways, listeners could not help but compare the two because of the proximity of the release dates. This begs the question: how did the PDS community react to the Donda vs CLB debate?

There were mixed opinions, to say the least. Senior Sophie Zhang chose Donda as her pick, stating that “while CLB has catchy songs, Donda is better in terms of artistic vision—it has more emotion tied to it as the album pays tribute to his late mother. Some may think that more songs on CLB individually qualify as ‘listenable’ but Donda is clearly much stronger as a cohesive album.” Senior Arnav Kokkirala also preferred Donda, asserting, “I think the features are better and the production is much better. I think Kanye experiments with sounds way more, like his own voice, and with the style of his songs. I do like some songs on CLB, but, overall, it just felt like a very average Drake album, which is good, but not great. The only song I go back to listen to on CLB is ‘Fair Trade’ but on Donda I listen to ‘Off The Grid,’ ‘Hurricane,’ ‘Praise God,’ ‘24,’ ‘Come to Life,’ ‘Pure Souls,’ and ‘No Child Left Behind.’ I think down the line Donda will definitely be remembered more for how [Kanye] experimented and also just created sounds that felt grander. Drake just makes hits and Kanye makes art which is a pretty commonly held opinion.”

While certain students vehemently expressed their distaste for CLB, others leaned the opposite way. For example, Sophomore Anya Joseph preferred Drake because his music was in her comfort zone: “…the songs were much easier to listen to as a whole than Donda. Donda had some bangers ‘cause of my Lord and Savior Playboy Carti, but other than that, due to Kanye’s artistic talent, he does a lot of experimental stuff that I don’t always like. Drake on the other hand makes similar music to the stuff that he’s made before, so you know you will like it.” Junior Ziya Brittingham chose to remain neutral on the highly controversial topic, saying “I think that a lot of people hopped on the ‘anti-CLB’ wave because that’s what everyone was thinking… both albums had skips.”

Both artists have very distinct, signature sounds, and their albums were created with completely different audiences in mind, so it can feel like comparing apples to oranges. Typical Drake fans were more than pleased with CLB, but others found it lackluster. On the flip side, many appreciated Kanye’s creativity and willingness to test his limits, while some thought Donda fell short of expectations. It seems that even at PDS, students have various personal preferences. Only time will tell which album will turn out to be more successful.