Two Hits, Two Weeks: Kanye West’s Donda vs. Drake’s Certified Lover Boy

Image courtesy of Rolling Stone

By Andrea Suarez

The past two weeks have been eventful for music enthusiasts. With Kanye West’s Donda releasing on August 29, 2021 (after a long period of teasing his fans with its release), and Drake’s Certified Lover Boy releasing five days later on September 3, the rap industry has received the content they were anxious for. Many individuals have various critiques of these pieces that pique the interest of listeners worldwide. Whether people enjoyed their listening or they dreaded every song, the two releases have made an impact on the modern music industry. 

According to Complex, the number one spot in the charts is for Certified Lover Boy, which has reached over 600 million streams. Drake is known to be an excellent lyricist with the best features in his albums. This might be because Drake’s lyrics are magnets to fans worldwide. In contrast, Donda only has 200 million streams due to the hype for the album dying down after years of no release. 

Both Donda and Certified Lover Boy lacked exploration in creativity in order to please the listeners’ ears; Drake and West had potential in maintaining the roots of their older music yet they became engulfed in finding new techniques of providing a unique musical experience to their audience (again, West’s teasing of Donda’s release). The same fast-paced lyrics and pop sounds that were used in their previous albums, however, were not kept in Donda and Certified Lover Boy. Both artists have discographies that peaked in 2016, including top-hitting albums The Life of Pablo by West and Views by Drake. Unfortunately, these new releases will never top the two 2016 projects. 

With the new albums, both Drake and West had the opportunity to experiment with new sounds and lyrical techniques, though their style developed from mostly upbeat tunes to more relaxed and “chilled” beats. 

However, this was not the case for Certified Lover Boy, since all twenty-one tracks are repetitive and lacking creativity. There is definitely room for improvement when it comes to the melodic and lyrical aspects in Drake’s new release as it doesn’t meet the expectations of the majority of its listeners. The album in its entirety seems like it is not natural and authentic to Drake’s style. Hence, it is clear that Donda has the most creativity put forth in its production

Donda is lengthy, with 27 tracks, giving room for more expression of the overall message of the entire album. The album begins with a rather unique introduction, “Donda Chant,” which is not the most attractive introduction because of the monotonous repetition of “Donda.” However, it leads to much more pleasant tracks. Donda, overall, maintains its quality, becoming more enticing after every song. Two tracks which captured the attention of Donda’s listeners were “Hurricane” and “Jail.” These tracks are about the freedom which West has experienced ever since the release of his first ‘praise’ album, The Life of Pablo. The two features in this song, The Weeknd and Lil Baby, bring more of a melody to it and provide these important lyrics: 

“Finally free, found the God in me / And I want you to see, I can walk on water / Thousand miles from shore, I can float on the water / Father, hold me close, don’t let me drown / I know you won’t.”

“Jail” also represents the manner in which West realizes that he has freedom but he can easily become trapped in the jail of sin. Both of these tracks have a wonderful message, which is pleasing to many who have followed West since his first album. 

The song in Certified Lover Boy that is a top hit is “Way 2 Sexy.” This represents the overall message that Drake wanted to express; there is a sense of pride through every lyric, especially the title. Drake’s music, this time, is more expressive of the fact that he has become a powerful individual, and is meant to show off his selfishness. This cannot compare to West’s Gospel themes, which provide more of a personal account of his experiences since his mother’s passing. Certified Lover Boy, overall, is an all-time favorite; however, it does not compare with Donda’s emotional depth. 

Despite both albums taking over the charts these past two weeks, it is clear that Donda is more pleasant artistically and emotionally than Certified Lover Boy. Its length is quite overwhelming, but it brings forth a complex perspective of West’s experiences in the industry and beyond, making it truly deserving of the number one spot on the charts, instead of Certified Lover Boy.

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