With DONDA 2, the rapper formerly known as Kanye West achieved many things: he threw a life raft to (alleged) rapist Marilyn Manson's shipwrecked career, stuck a middle finger to streaming platforms, and managed to name-drop Morgan Freeman in the filthiest way possible.
He also retooled the divorce album — a beloved musical sub-genre tread by the likes of Bob Dylan, Fleetwood Mac, and Björk — for dudes who wear Vlone shirts.
DONDA 2 is, at its core, a divorce album — it chronicles his very public split from Kim Kardashian. Like its recent predecessors (Adele's 30, Kacey Musgraves's Star Crossed), the project boasts all the hallmarks of a musician going through post-nuptial proceedings.
There's the plea for reconciliation, "True Love," a track in which Ye's children function as sympathetic pawns.
"Wait, when you see the kids? I'll see y'all tomorrow / Wait, when the sunset? I see y'all tomorrow / Wait, when I pick 'em up, I feel like they borrowed," he pleads, though domestic abuser XXXTentacion's feature cheapens the emotional effect.
After bargaining comes depression! The self-blame ballad, another crucial element of any divorce album, manifests as "Selfish," in which Ye reflects on his flaws (narcissism) and how they disrupted his once-happy marriage.
Then comes the rebound track, "Flowers." Seemingly referencing his short-lived romance with Julia Fox, Ye delivers: "Your life finna change right now / Balenciaga for all your friends / Hermès for the argument," bars that point to the rapper's extravagant birthday gift for the "Unca Jahms" starlet: three Birkin bags.
Next is the shameless air-out, "Sci Fi." Featuring that aforementioned Morgan Freeman name-drop, the track is a rollercoaster ride through KimYe's divorce, beginning with a recording of Kardashian's Saturday Night Live monologue and ending with a bizarre ultimatum: "Make a choice already, oxygen or Wi-Fi?"
Lastly, we have the angry clap-back. On "Security," Ye continues to threaten Kardashian's beau, Pete Davidson, whom Kanye essentially bullied off Instagram. (Though Ye is prime joke material, the situation isn't a laughing matter — the rapper has a long history of harassing celebrities, particularly women.)
However, Ye's divorce album lacks exactly what makes other examples of the genre (Björk's Vulnicura, Fleetwood Mac's Rumours) so impactful: sincerity.
From his half-hearted self-reflection ("Lewinsky, treat me like the president / Don't look at me like I need medicine") to his swipes at Davidson ("Never stand between a man and his kids / Y'all ain't got enough security for this"), the project reeks of ego — but then again, his inflated self-image is part of what appeals to his fans.
Love him or hate him, Ye will live on in infamy for doing the impossible: packaging the divorce album as a little treat for the bros.