Album Review: Kanye’s “The Life of Pablo”

I don’t miss the old Kanye. I am always up for whatever new aesthetic he has to bring to the table. Throughout the duration of recording “Yeezus,” Kanye was having a tough time. He started dipping his foot deeper into the fashion industry, as well as film and art. After countless expressions of disapproval of him venturing out into other arts, he started to lose it. This lead him to doing what he does best, pumping his emotions into his music. “Yeezus” was a great album, but it left many true fans upset with the new direction Yeezy has taken. “Yeezus” was a pissed-off trap album that left many wondering what he could possibly make next.

Things have really calmed down for Kanye. He has developed much more of an acceptance in the fashion world, he is less hostile and everything is going well for him. His new deal with Adidas has seemed to free him up, literally. West said he felt like a “slave” or victim to corporate greed while he was with Nike. It seems as if he is finally achieving what he has always set out for, being taken seriously.

The marketing and hype for “The Life of Pablo” was absolutely stellar. Most people would look at what happened under the light of “bad publicity is good publicity.” He engaged in sporadic Twitter rants in regards to his career, haters and Wiz Khalifa. Many claimed the Kanye and Khalifa beef to be more entertaining than the Meek Mill and Drake beef. This only helped Kanye. No matter how you look at it, this only made people hungrier for the upcoming album. Immediately following the conclusion all of the Twitter drama, Kanye sought out to establish peace and focus on the release of “The Life of Pablo.”

Three album title changes later, we have “The Life of Pablo.” After listening to it you realize one thing in particular. Kanye has successfully mixed all of the themes from discography into one album. Arguably the most moving track “Ultralight Beam,” opens the album with the help of Chance the Rapper. You get a taste of the old Kanye with the gospel choir and uplifting message. 

You are also able to tell that this won’t be his most lyrically talented effort. In lieu of that, “TLOP” sets out to be the perfect mixture of production. Track after track, the instrumentals become more talented. On the Rick Rubin assisted track “Father Stretch My Hands, Pt. 2”, Kanye recruits the latest member of G.O.O.D. Music, Desiigner, to add to the trap flare. Desiigner’s vocals from his underground hit “Panda” are featured and sync perfectly. The song goes so hard that it is nearly impossible not to dance to. Even though this song is clearly focused on the vibe, it manages to advance on the underlying story of ‘Ye trying not to be like his father. Kanye did not have the smoothest childhood, and he is here to tell you.

The album has its obvious moments. It’s obvious that “30 Hours” was recorded right before the album dropped and ‘Ye even tells us that it’s a bonus track. “Facts” and “Freestyle 4” also landed as last minute add-ons. This common move of Kanye’s is the result of sudden inspiration acting as an excuse for indecisiveness. While approaching the end of the album, the lyrically savvy “No Parties in L.A.” and funk loaded “Fade” are other oddly placed tracks but are definitely favorites.

All in all, I don’t think anyone was anticipating on this album to be a failure. It still is not quite at “My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy’s” level, although it shares much of its tone.  I feel as if this album really can’t fall under as a disappointment to long-term Kanye fans.  You get a taste of all the different types of rap he has to offer. This is the recipe that Yeezy should stick with. “The Life of Pablo” lands my highest score yet, a long-awaited 9/10.

Nick Morton can be contacted at [email protected]