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Who takes first place: Donda or Certified Lover Boy?

September 24, 2021

When Kanye West or Drake drop an album, it is a cultural earthquake that draws attention from millions across the globe, from the most die-hard fans to casual music/rap listeners. For two artists of such magnitudes to drop albums within a week of each other is an unheard of occurrence, but with Kanye and Drake battling for the top spot among current hip hop artists, and furthered by their current beef outside of rap, Donda by Kanye West and Certified Lover Boy were dropped August 29th and September 3rd respectively. With the clashing artists attracting such a huge part of the music world, fan bases consequently compared both albums which has since sparked an unresolved debate surrounding the two popular albums. Knight Errant writers were divided as well, with Sam Best supporting Drake’s Certified Lover Boy and Brady Wine believing that Kanye’s Donda was the stronger project.

CLB: an unmatched blend of art and talent

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Photo Courtesy of Apple Music

With the album cover alone, CLB attracts a powerful fanbase.

Drake’s Certified Lover Boy proved once again why he holds the throne as King of the rap game. His 21 song tracklist broke the internet when he dropped it September 3rd at 2:00 A.M, but fans stayed up late into the night when they found out he would be releasing when his OVO team hacked into the ESPN television program for five seconds to announce the drop of the album. Fans were then ready for the release, and it showed by breaking multiple opening day records. Starting on Apple Music, the album broke the opening day record for most streamed album of all time on its opening day, breaking Drake’s own previous record in 2018 from his album Scorpion. 

While Kanye did a good job of bringing a variety of different sounds and beats on his album along with solid features, Drake’s beats, lyrics, and features combine to make an even better album. Kanye left his fans in disarray for weeks on end anticipating the drop, and the build up got so big that in my opinion, the album did not live up to Kanye expectations compared to his previous albums. Drake however, did not miss a beat. He shows with songs like his opening song “Champagne Poetry,” that he still can provide top tier lyrics more than a decade into his career, making fans decipher and ponder the deep meaningful lyrics. Drake dives in on his beef with Kanye throughout the album, such as when he sings, “Give that address to your driver, make it your destination.” This is referring to how Kanye leaked Drake’s house address on twitter. Each beat is unique and no song sounds the same at all. A lot of Drake’s features on his album overlap with the ones on Donda’s, but I think the names on Drake’s are slightly better and the features sounded better on Certified Lover Boy. Some of the biggest names in the rap game provide stellar verses that take songs to the next level. Lil Baby, Jay-Z, Lil Wayne, Future, Young Thug, Travis Scott, Lil Durk, and more made this album an all time classic.

The rap game has been split into two ever since the two albums have come out side by side, and instead of people usually being able to enjoy both artists, it now seems like you are either Team Drake or Team Kanye. Regardless of which side you choose, Drake said it himself in his song on the album “ No Friends in the Industry”, when he says “ Let’s make this about the numbers all I know.” He is referring to the charts and the statistics when comparing the two albums. Certified Lover Boy out-streamed all of Donda in just three days after it was released, and Donda had already been out for a while. CLB reached over 1 billion streams in the first week. On Spotify right now, Drake currently holds every song numbers 1-11 in the top 50 songs in the US. That is unheard of to have all 11 songs being the most streamed in the US this long after the release of the album, and Kanye has not come close to touching those numbers with Donda. “Girls want Girls,” “Way 2 Sexy,” and “Fair Trade” are the top three songs in the world.

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it’s donda or dust

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Photo Courtesy of Apple Music

The simple, yet iconic album cover of Kanye’s new album, Donda.

Donda by Kanye West was a beautiful ode to his late mother Donda West, and its depth and variety cement Kanye’s legendary status. After three pre-album listening parties sparked interest in Kanye’s new project, Donda surprisingly dropped on Sunday, August 29th at 8:00 AM and quickly took the rap world by storm. Donda didn’t just live up to the hype though, it thoroughly exceeded expectations. Fans were met with hard-hitting rap songs, and beautiful ballads; the variety that Kanye brought to the table is what makes the album Donda so excellent. Songs like “Praise God” and “Off the Grid” were two of the most aggressive and exciting songs that Kanye has released in years, both truly effective in getting your heart racing. “Pure Souls”, “Hurricane” and “Moon” all have a slower tempo, but are songs that listeners keep coming back to as they were some of the most enjoyable songs released in 2021. Few albums in history have had such a talented supporting cast that Kanye had, as Donda features included Jay-Z, Travis Scott, Kid Cudi, Roddy Ricch and Playboi Carti. However, these were not thrown together features to boost album listens (a strategy Drake is known to utilize). Artists came with some of their best verses they’ve had, such as Baby Keem (“Praise God”) and Fivio Foreign (“Off the Grid”) showcasing their unseen talent.

For an album dedicated to his mother, Kanye would not be overshadowed by a random collection of Drake songs, with no direction, dedication or excitement. From start to finish, all the songs on Donda are held to an obviously higher standard than Certified Lover Boy, and as a Drake fan myself, CLB simply does not have the classic Drake bangers that I keep coming back to. Instead of the hard-hitting bars Drake fans are accustomed to, they are treated to bars such as “She say she a lesbian, girl me too,” on “Girls Love Girls.” Not only are Kanye’s lyrics much more thought out and deeper, the themes the albums discuss are much more important, and Kanye stays much more direct with his album. Kanye was able to make Donda an untraditional gospel album that contained the most enjoyable Christian music I’d ever listened to, but stayed dedicated to spreading the word of Jesus. Certified Lover Boy’s direction was random at best, taking shots at Kanye, proclaiming himself the King of Rap while emphasizing his simping nature. While Drake may have an overall better catalog of music, these albums head to head have a clear winner. Donda by Kanye West exceeded the high expectations set by the album, while Drake produced an album that we have heard from him multiple times before, losing this round to Kanye.  

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