Choosing to not leave his fans waiting, Kanye West released the deluxe version of his album Donda on Nov. 14, 11 weeks after the original, adding five new tracks. This release reinvigorated fans’ appetite for Ye, but only one memorable song serves to fill it; the new tracks leaving listeners only partially satisfied and with an unfulfilled desire for more.
“Life Of The Party” is the strongest of the new tracks. The production is both a new direction and a return to form for Kanye—the beat is melancholic and minimalist, with a chipmunk soul sample layered beneath a jazz bass and subtle soul beat. André 3000 and Kanye’s verses stand in a stark, yet harmonized, contrast. André’s muted, free-flowing delivery gives way to Kanye’s verse; his entering line “Straight from Shibuya, on some zen” has a hard-hitting cadence evocative of Late Registration-era Ye. The emotionally charged lyrics seamlessly combine with the beat into a song destined for the repeat button.
“Up From The Ashes” and “Never Abandon Your Family” are certainly interesting, but not incredible. While the tracks’ themes of religious renewal and family are profound, the songs themselves fail to stand out, lacking a distinct sound or character.
In true Kanye fashion, the last two tracks seem to be included for reasons other than musical value. “Remote Control pt 2” shortens Kid Cudi’s verse for the sole purpose of extending the infamous “Globglobgabgalab” sample. “Keep My Spirit Alive pt 2” is simply the version included on the original song’s release with KayCyy featured on the chorus; Kanye originally replaced these vocals with his own for undisclosed reasons. While fans of Kanye’s humour may appreciate the comedic value of the extended sample and fans of KayCyy’s vocals may be satisfied, the updated tracks fail to add anything new.
While Donda (Deluxe)’s new tracks do not detract from the original album, they fail to contribute to it in a meaningful way. The new songs feel tacked on, with only “Life Of The Party” distinguishing itself. A deluxe album should seek to add musical value to an album, not just more tracks; Donda (Deluxe) fails to contribute much of either.