The Music Review: Jail by Kanye West


Nicholous Lord and Jonah Busker

One of the most anticipated music drops of this year was the album Donda, the 10th studio album from legendary Chicago rapper and producer Kanye West whose reputation is well known throughout the genre of hip hop. A popular song from West’s album is the first song, “Jail.” Last time Kanye put out a project, it was a Christian rap album called Jesus Is King, which could be described as mediocre at best. A lot has happened to West since then, such as his divorce from businesswoman and model Kim Kardashian, which, as you will find out later, plays a big part in this song.

The song itself seems to be a conscientious and detailed interpretation of West’s new and old life, before and after his divorce, and to some extent his life before his rapping career. It is also apparent that West envisioned his former marriage as some sort of prison, thanking God for bailing him out.

In the first part of this two-part song featuring Jay-Z, West takes many musical risks with some hidden messages deep between the lines.

In Jay-Z’s verse, he sings: “God in my cells, that’s my celly.” It could be speculated that in relation to his multiple references about God “posting his bail” that could mean that, once arrested, he uses “God’s contact” as his one phone call. This could be perceived as some “divine intervention.”

 A strange but ultimately powerful lyric from the song—“I can’t be controlled by my presets, reset”—can possibly be interpreted as West signing the divorce papers from his previous marriage to Kardashian, breaking free from his “presets” and hitting a metaphorical reset button, allowing him to be free from his unhappy marriage, thus making him a “free man.”

The music itself, filled with excellent vocals by West and Jay-Z, plenty of reverb and autotune, and a magnificent 808’s And Heartbreak style instrumental background create an all-around great song.

The second part features notorious heavy metal singer and songwriter Marilyn Manson and rapper DaBaby. 

Despite having the same beat as the original, this part is a completely different song. Manson’s vocals in the background are a nice touch as they’re more full of life than most of his own catalogue. But the most interesting part about this section is Dababy’s verse.

This past summer, DaBaby made unapologetic homophobic commentary at Rolling Loud Miami 2021. In his verse in Jail, he raps in reference to the comments he made during the festival: “Man, tell them haters open up the jail (Open up the jail) / And you can tell my baby mamas get the bail money (Bail me) / I said one thing they ain’t like, threw me out like they ain’t care for me.” 

After this, he tries playing the sympathy card by telling everyone that his life wasn’t easy before the fame with the lines, “My mama worked two or three jobs to take care of three of her kids, my uncles watched / Yeah, we was raised by the crack addicts / Mmm, raised by the drug dealers, killers, and the junkies (Junkies) / Mama couldn’t save us ‘cause she had to get the—Mama couldn’t save us ‘cause she had to get the money.” What really makes his verse worth listening to is his angry energy throughout his verse and the singing at the end of the verse.

Considering the combination of the music, lyrics, and hidden messages in the text, we felt as though we should grade this song a 7.5 out of 10. 


This review was written by Nic Lord and Jonah Busker, two seniors at Harwood Union high school with a very big love of music. We are always looking for the best, biggest and newest releases in every genre, whether that be rock, hip hop, pop, industrial, metal and more. If you are interested, feel free to let us know what song/album we should review next.