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The Life of Pablo is a beautiful mess
The Life of Pablo is a breakfast scramble made up of vulgar lines, narcissism, disrespect, beauty, ingenuity, humility -- and it is delicious!
The Life of Pablo is Kanye West’s seventh studio album. You can currently stream it on wwww.tidal.com. It consists of eighteen tracks and a plethora of guests including Kendrick Lamar, Chris Brown, Rihanna, The Weeknd, Frank Ocean,etc.
Kanye is now 38 years old, married to Kim Kardashian, has two children, and is apparently 53 million dollars in debt because of his clothing line. Kanye touches on these subjects in The Life of Pablo. Kanye is not an ordinary guy and neither was the release of his album. Kanye postponed the release by a couple of days and had Kanye fans banging the table for it. Kanye decided to showcase the album along with his latest clothing line “Yeezy Season 3” live at a sell out event in Madison Square Garden. Currently you cannot buy the album anywhere and may never be able to. Kanye tweeted “ My album will never be on Apple. And it will never be for sale... You can only get it on Tidal.”. Unorthodox to the say the least but what else could we have expected from Kanye.
Kanye kicks off the album with the glorious “Ultralight Beam” which sounds like something you would hear at Sunday church. The production is beautiful and Kanye uses a choir for the hook. On this track we get the heartfelt and humble Kanye. He touches on the subject of keeping his faith in God and the euphoria he feels when he is in touch with him. We also get, in my opinion, the best verse on the album provided by Chance the Rapper. “I made Sunday Candy, I’m never going to hell I met Kanye West, I’m never going to fail” is one of the more memorable lines from Chance’s verse. He alludes to the line “I made Jesus Walks I’m never going to hell” by Kanye West on the track “Otis” from the Jay-Z album Watch the Throne.
On the next two tracks “Father Stretch my Hands” Part One and Two, Kanye continues to use elements of gospel music but mixes in more modern trap instruments, such as electronic drums. On these tracks we get a feature by Designer whose slurred and auto-tune drenched flow is reminiscent of rap sensation Future.
It would not be a Kanye album if we did not get any controversy and that is exactly what we get on the track “Famous.” Kanye arrogantly raps that he made Taylor Swift famous after their incident at the 2009 MTV Music awards in which Kanye interrupted Swift’s acceptance speech for Best Female Video, claiming Beyonce deserved the award. While this incident did not make Swift famous as she was already well known at the time it did in fact bring her a lot of attention. It begs the question, did Kanye indeed make Swift famous? The beat on this track matches the content as it is very aggressive and up in your face. Kanye stretches from criticism to vulgarity, claiming in the song he could still have sex with the pop icon. “I feel like me and Taylor might still have sex. Why? I made that bitch famous”.
The middle of the album is not the strongest but it is still good. We get a two-minute interlude titled “Lowlights” which is a sermon and fits in the gospel element Kanye is pushing for. After this we get the tracks “Highlights” and “Freestyle 4”. These tracks contradict the interlude as they are the opposite of gospel. It is the type of music your mom tells you to turn off and calls trash. They are vulgar and downright disrespectful but the production on these tracks overpower the lyrics and it works beautifully. On “Highlights” Kanye takes a shot at Kim Kardashian’s ex Ray J “I bet me and Ray J would be friends If we ain’t love the same bitch Yeah, he might have hit it first Only problem is I’m rich”. Kanye acknowledges that Ray J “hit it first” but he is ok with that since he has more money than him and ended up marrying Kim. On “Freestyle 4” Kanye puts himself at Vogue party with his wife Kim Kardashian and he asks her “What if we (expletive) right now?”. It seems like Kanye had one too many shots at this party and had a
sudden urge to have sex. Even the beat on this track seems to be intoxicated. It is all over the place.
After the middle we get an acapella track “I love Kanye”. On this track Kanye takes a shot at his fans who say that they miss the “old Kanye” and hate the “new Kanye”. He raps in the third person and tells his fans “I love you like Kanye loves Kanye”. Since there is no beat on this it feels like Kanye is speaking directly to the listener.
Only a few tracks after “I love Kanye” which was filled with Kanye’s ego we get the complete opposite in the heartfelt track titled “Real Friends”. “Real friends, how many of us?” is the main point Kanye is trying to get across. He talks about the struggle of having real friends and at the same time being an A-list celebrity with millions of dollars. This track may be a shot at all his “Hollywood friends” and distant relatives who he says only talk to him when they need a favor. The beat on this track is very light and airy with minimal use of drums which contributes nicely to the heartfeltness of the track.
This stretch towards the end of the album is where it is the strongest. We have a series of memorable tracks including a revised version of “Wolves” who originally featured Vic Mensa and Sia. The album version of “Wolves” removes them and instead includes a second verse by Kanye and an outro by Frank Ocean. Kanye alludes to the biblical story of Mary and Joseph. He compares himself to Joseph, his wife Kim Kardashian to Mary and their children Nori and Saint to baby Jesus. The production on this track is Kanye at his best. The beat is eery and Kanye uses auto-tuned wolves in the background.
Another memorable track on the album is “No More Parties In L.A.” which includes a feature verse from Kendrick Lamar. Kanye’s verse on this track is reminiscent of his College Dropout days. Kendrick Lamar contributes a great verse in which he talks about the struggles of being rich in Hollywood. Kendrick raps “Smoke in every direction, middle finger pedestrians R&B singers and lesbians, rappers and managers Music and iPhone cameras This (expletive) unanimous for you, it's damaging for you”.The track is very soulful. It samples song “Stand up and Shout about Love” by Larry Graham who is the uncle of Aubrey Graham who is better known as Drake. Legendary producer Madlib who has produced hit hip hop albums such as Madvillainy and Piñata helps out with the production on this and it sounds amazing.
All in all Kanye’s The Life of Pablo was exactly what we expected from Kanye. The unexpected. It is all over the place. One moment Kanye makes you feel like you are in church and the next moment he makes you feel like you are at a nightclub ordering bottle service. This album is a mess but a beautiful mess. It feels like his past six albums meshed into one.You can hate Kanye all you want but you cannot deny that he is entertaining. I would give this album a strong eight out of ten.