Drake and Kanye West: The Clash of Two of the Music Industry’s Titans

Colin McGee ‘22

Whenever Drake or Kanye West release a new project, it’s a big deal. When they both release their albums in the span of one week, it’s the largest music story of the year. After a whole summer spent speculating on when these albums would be released, Kanye West put out his tenth studio album, Donda, on August 29. Drake would release his sixth studio album, Certified Lover Boy, the following Friday, September 3.

During the summer, fans were wondering if the two rappers were waiting for the other to drop their albums first. Fans of both Drake and Kanye West were both eagerly awaiting new music. During this period, the two reignited their feud. Both rappers were sending each other subliminal disses. This only became more heightened to the public when they both started to go at each other directly. This dispute only amped up the excitement for the albums more.

Donda

Donda was originally supposed to drop in July 2020 under the title God’s Country however it was delayed. On July 20, 2021 a teaser for the album was released which said the album would come out on July 23. On July 22, Kanye West would hold the first of three listening parties for the album. This listening party took place at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta, Georgia, where the album in its entirety was played for the 42,000 in attendance while West walked around wearing a mask which covered his whole face. However, to the dismay of many fans, the album did not release the following day.

Kanye West famously lived at Mercedes-Benz Stadium for the next couple of weeks while continuing to make changes to the album. The album was given another release date of August 6. On that same day West held his second listening party at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. Once again, the album was not dropped after the party.

The third and final listening party occurred at Soldier Field in Chicago on August 26. Here, Kanye had a replica of his childhood Chicago home on the field. Donda finally released on the following Sunday morning, August 29. In its first week Donda sold over 300,000 copies.

The title of Donda is named after Kanye West’s late mother, Donda West. She is a large topic of this album and the album is dedicated to her as well. While featuring numerous hip-hop elements, Donda is also a gospel album. In 2019, it became known to the public that Kanye West grew stronger in his Christian faith, confirmed by his 2019 gospel album Jesus is King. The gospel theme of Donda can clearly be seen by song titles such as “Praise God” and “Jesus Lord”. 

Donda has a star-studded feature list of over 30 collaborators, including names such as The Weeknd, Ariana Grande, Jay-Z, and Roddy Ricch. A lot of the features on the album shine. Kanye West delivers great moments on the album as well. The production on Donda also does not disappoint. Kanye West took a lot of time perfecting Donda in the way he seemed to be best fit. I believe that this hard work paid off.

Certified Lover Boy

Certified Lover Boy was first teased by Drake as part of his announcement for the surprise mixtape, Dark Lane Demo Tapes, which was released on May 1, 2020. The Canadian rapper said that the album would be released in summer 2020. It would take until October of 2020 for Drake to unveil the teaser trailer for the album, which said that Certified Lover Boy would come out in January 2021. The date was once again pushed back from January due to Drake focusing on his recovery from a leg injury he suffered. However, around this time he debuted a hairstyle that would become synonymous with the album, a heart shaved into his hair, keeping the look ever since.

Fans speculated that the album would be released during the summer of 2021. The talk only grew once it became known that Kanye West’s Donda would be released around the same time. Drake first revealed the September 3 release date on ESPN’s SportsCenter. Certified Lover Boy did in fact release on September 3, just 5 days after Donda.

FanCertified Lover Boy is 21 tracks of hip-hop and R&B songs. One of the main focuses of the album is Drake’s 3 year old son Adonis. While still being at the top of the music world, Drake has to navigate his recent introduction into fatherhood. Many of the album’s songs also allude to his previous relationships. Features on Certified Lover Boy include big names such as Travis Scott, Lil Baby, and Future while also showcasing lesser known artists such as Yebba and Nigerian singer Tems. Drake, as well as his features, all have strong moments on the album. Certified Lover Boy is his first studio album since 2018, when he released Scorpion. He delivers for his fans after their 3 year wait.

Like many of Drake’s albums, Certified Lover Boy has done great numbers. In its first week, the album sold 613,000 copies, which is the most for any album in its first week this year. Drake also impressively broke the record for most songs held in the top 10 of the Billboard Hot 100 simultaneously, with 9. The only non-Drake song in the top 10 for that week was The Kid LAROI and Justin Beiber’s smash hit “Stay”. As of September 25 Certified Loved Boy has sold over 1 million copies, meaning it has already been certified platinum. 

In the coming months, many people will continue to debate over whether Kanye West or Drake delivered the better album. Rather than join in on the debate, I will say that I truly believe both artists released strong albums. Donda and Certified Lover Boy are sure to leave a Drake and Kanye West fan satisfied. 2021 has proved to be a great year for a music fan. In the past year both Donda and Certified Lover Boy have endured countless delays and uncertainties, however, I think it is now safe to say that both were worth the wait.

Armando Gimenez