After teasing Donda‘s original release for months with a series of listening parties and rumors, the albums deluxe version took a much more subtle rollout approach. While a deluxe version of Donda was first mentioned in September, there wasn’t much news surrounding it before a series of billboards were spotted over the weekend. But rather than playing the long wait-and-see game that fans endured during Donda‘s original release, the deluxe version was dropped on streaming services Sunday night with little hype or rollout.

In terms of a deluxe edition, the updated 32-track version of Donda doesn’t offer a ton of new content, but still serves as the next (and perhaps final?) step in the evolution of Kanye’s tenth solo studio album. Donda (Deluxe) adds three songs not on the orginal tracklist, as well as two additional “part two’s,” or alternate versions of songs already on the album, alongside a few other minor tweaks.

“Life of the Party” is easily the highlight of the Donda update, bringing a fan favorite from the listening parties to the album’s tracklist. The 6+ minute track features vocals from Andre 3000, who subsequently becomes the album’s only credited feature artist. The track lands fourth on the new track list (more on that later) but feels more like an outro track with Andre 3000 and West delivering introspective stories over a slow, subtle beat.

“Up From The Ashes” features a Gospel-swooning Kanye over some minimalistic production, accompanied by the Sunday Service Choir over a brief two minute, 42-second track.

“Never Abandon Your Family” was a powerful moment during West’s penultimate listening party, but isn’t the first song I would come back to on Donda (Deluxe). The track intertwines another vocal snippet from West’s late mother with an emotional Kanye at odds with the potential breakup of his family. A chilling guitar riff juxtaposes against Kanye repeating that he’s losing his family. The song flows very naturally into the title track, “Donda,” in the latter half of the track listing.

Two additional alternate versions or “Part Two’s” appear on Donda (Deluxe) but one is a much newer version than the other. “Remote Control pt 2” adds Kid Cudi to the mix alongside West and Young Thug, restoring one of the most disappointing cuts made between the listening parties and Donda‘s original August release. The alternate version takes place first in the track list, though the Cudi-less version still appears before the track list becomes all alternate versions. “Keep My Spirit Alive pt 2” also joins the track list, but is literally the original version of the song which featured vocals from KayCyy before West took over the chorus. I prefer KayCyy’s rendition of the chorus, so I’m glad it’s back on the album, but as one of five songs added to Donda (Deluxe), it doesn’t offer much in terms of new content. However, Kanye singing the chorus himself does make a lot of sense for this track order, after emotional moments on “Never Abandon Your Family” and “Donda.”

Which brings us to Donda (Deluxe)‘s other notable change: the track order. This isn’t the first time Kanye has played with the track listing in order to tweak an album’s narrative, with The Life of Pablo undergoing major track list changes between pre-release and release. The album still opens with “Donda Chant” and then goes right into “Hurricane” featuring The Weeknd and Lil Baby. In a popular move, “Moon” now follows “Hurricane,” which fits sonically as “Moon” feels like an eerie echo to “Hurricane” melodically. The track list then runs through “Life of the Party,” “Off the Grid,” “Jail,” and “Praise God,” keeping some of the album’s most popular songs and hard-hitting features in the first half of the track list.

“No Child Left Behind,” the closing track from Donda before the album shifted to alternate versions, now appears 10th on the track list, and represents a shift in the album’s tone rather than the completion of its narrative. “Jesus Lord pt 2” appears on the album’s tracklist well before “Jesus Lord,” apparently making the version with Sheek Louch, Jadakiss, and Styles P the definitve version.

As mentioned earlier, “Remote Control” in its original form appears as the 22nd track, before a slew of alternate versions at the end of the tracklist. With this in mind, it’s hard to tell where Donda (Deluxe) ends. Is it “New Again,” the 27th track and final unique song on the album? Or is it the original version of “Jesus Lord,” closing out the album as a reprise one track later?

Finally, other tweaks were made throughout the album’s 32-song tracklist. We could really use “patch notes” for these often minor adjustments, but luckily, the hard-working Kanye fans of Twitter have already pinpointed noticeable changes.

The 32-track deluxe edition boasts a 2 hour, 11-minute run time, the longest album of West’s discography.

With the deluxe edition out, fans can finally listen to “Life of the Party” as well as Kid Cudi’s verse on “Remote Control pt 2” without scavenging through unofficial YouTube cuts. Unfortunately, Kanye didn’t completely empty the vault, with the highly requested and hard-hitting “South Carolina” featuring Pusha T still absent from the tracklist.

Have you listened to Donda (Deluxe) yet? How does the new track order compare to the old one? Which new song or new version of a song is your favorite? To join the conversation, feel free to reach out to B-Sak Rap Blog on Twitter.





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Header Photo: Kevin Mazur/Getty Images for Universal Music Group

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