Certified Lover Boy or Donda?


Courtesy of Damien Hirst for OVO_Republic, and Kanye West_GOOD

Rap artists always seem pitted against each other. This started as early as Tupac vs. Biggie, and has gone to Cardi vs. Nicki. The most recent rivalry has been between Drake and Kanye, with the release of their albums in the fall of 2021. With Drake dropping “Certified Lover Boy (CLB)” five days after the release of Kanye’s “Donda,” fans were quick to compare the two. But which of the two albums is actually better?


I sent out a poll to all Groton School students, asking them a few questions about the two albums, and I received 42 responses. First I asked,“Which album do you prefer, CLB or Donda?” The results of this question were in favor of Donda, with 66.7% of people preferring Donda, and 33.3% preferring CLB. I also asked people to explain why they chose one album over the other. Some gave reasoning with no substance, with some weak responses being “It’s just better” and “It has/doesn’t have Playboi Carti.” 


I also got some pretty strong and passionate responses that helped me conclude that CLB and Donda are two completely different and unique albums, so different that they cannot be compared.


Donda is an album that has many layers to it. The first is its title, named after Kanye’s late mother. The album continually references the loss of his mother, as well as his recent divorce and religious beliefs. Each song varies greatly on instrumentals, vocals, beats, and style. Many described the album as more creative, meaningful, and experimental than CLB. But, just because CLB is lacking in those aspects does not make it objectively a bad album. 


Many favor CLB because it was more upbeat and didn’t include deep lyrics. They described his songs as hits, while those in favor of Donda said that the album was less interesting because Drake was just trying to make hits. They enjoyed the depth of Donda but the CLB fans did not. The trend was that all of the adjectives being used by the Donda fans in a positive way, were being used by the CLB fans in a negative way and vice versa. These albums were created for two different purposes; CLB has catchy and upbeat music that you can listen to in the car or while working out, while Donda has the songs that hit you in the gut and make you think about different struggles of life. 


These albums are so opposed that if you really think about it, it makes no sense to pit them against each other. So why do we do it?


Rap is built on rivalries. It is a big part of how rap artists continue to thrive and stay high on the charts for weeks. The rivalry between CLB and Donda was created in order to bring more publicity and streams to each of the artists. It can’t be to actually prove which album is better, because there isn’t an answer to that question. As long as the album you prefer makes you feel good, there is no wrong answer.