***DISCLAIMER*** I was halfway through writing this up when I saw an update saying the album that is out for streaming now is not the final product. I’m not sure how true that is going to end up being, if it changes I’ll just do an update on all of this. Can’t complain about more Kanye.
It’s finally here. After a long, confusing, and complicated roll-out. The Life of Pablo is finally here. The album formally known as “So Help Me God”, “SWISH”, and “Waves” comes to us on an exclusive stream on TIDAL.
(If this album doesn’t save TIDAL, I really don’t now what will because there isn’t much more that kind of price tag is worth.) This release also follows what could be considered the largest listening party ever, with a jam packed Madison Square Garden to witness both Yeezy season 3, and a live streaming of the album. The stream itself was an insane experience to witness, but it was difficult to really feel out the music in that kind of media. Not having it ready immediately to download or stream did not help much either, and we were left waiting yet again. We had nothing but a handful of tweets being fired off from Kanye that suggested it would be here soon, and that fellow Chicago rapper Chance the Rapper was behind the delay. Apparently he was fighting to keep Waves on the final cut of the album, and worked non-stop to get it ready for the release.
With all the controversy surrounding Kanye these past few months, it seemed like this album needed to be a hit. Not to just shut the haters up, but to prove to the fans who trusted in what he was working on what it was worth it. Would it be a surprise classic like MBDTF, or would it be a debatable flop like Yeezus? Say what you want about Yeezus (I like it, but I get a lot of the criticism) but nobody is putting it near the top of Kanye’s discography. TLOP had plenty of hype behind it, and people expected something big from Kanye, and he more than delivered.
The Life Of Pablo shows Kanye at his least apologetic, where he has always seemed to be his strongest. Whether he seems slightly braggadocios, or just full-blown cocky, this is the persona people have come to expect from Kanye. Whether he is claiming he “made Taylor Swift famous”
“I feel like me and Taylor might still have sex
Why? I made that bitch famous (God damn)
I made that bitch famous”
or that him and Ray J could have been friends, Kanye is saying what is on his mind and doesn’t seem to care what people think of his art. He slips in shots at his past relationship with Amber Rose on Father Stretch My Hands PT. 1 but then switches right into sweet talking Kim within the same verse. It’s an album where he seems to be trying to get everything off his chest, but if you follow him on twitter, you realize the album might not have been enough for Kanye. I’m not going to get into it because this isn’t about his insane twitter feed, but do yourself a favour and read it. It’s basically the ramblings of a madman.
The Life of Pablo brings bits and pieces of what makes Kanye great in all his past albums. He moved past the futuristic sounding ‘artistic’ beats from Yeezus, and brought back the soul samples that helped put him on the map with his first few albums. He seems genuinely more comfortable rapping over these beats, and it being on a more sincere message when he chooses to open himself up and show how he actually feels. While there are plenty of moments where Kanye seems to be bragging much like he used to when he first came up on the scene, there are several moments and songs that show the emotional side of Kanye. This side was mostly seen on 808’s and Heartbreak after his mom passed away, and a little bit throughout My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy. He apologizes to his mother on Wolves.
“If your mama knew how
You turned out, you too wild
You too wild, you too wild
You too wild, and I need you now
Lost and found now”
It’s a side of himself he hasn’t shown for a long, long time. To the paparazzi and people that view him through the TMZ viewing glass, Kanye seems like little more than a cocky asshole that cares about nobody expect himself. But if TLOP shows anything, it is that the wants nothing more than to make his mother proud, and take care of his wife and children.
This album has no shortage of massive features, and it looks like all the stops were pulled out for TLOP. It opens up with Chance the Rapper on Ultralight Beam, who might deliver the best verse on the whole album. I swear I’m not just saying that as the biggest Chance stan in the world, but tossing in a lyric comparing this album to the gold at the end of the rainbow doesn’t hurt either.
“Know what God said when he made the first rainbow
Just throw this at the end if I’m too late for the intro”
Kid Cudi finally stops his rock/ alt crossover to deliver some seriously impressive singing on Father Stretch My Hands PT.1. This is the kind of stuff everybody has been looking for since Man on the Moon 2, and hopefully his is the push that gets Cudi back into that realm. Kanye did the seemingly impossible and managed to pull Andre 3000 out of retirement to hop on a feature as well. Even though I wish he put in a full verse, Andre doing anything at all is enough to get me hyped up and I’m hoping we’ll be seeing more of him in terms of music asap. Speaking of people you haven’t heard from in years, Frank Ocean reminds everybody that he is still alive and kicking and helps out on the new version of Wolves. Is Frank finally out of retirement and if so, where the hell is the new album?
Newest G.O.O.D Music signee Desiigner makes two appearances, although I’m not sure you can technically count one, as it was just Kanye taking his hit song “Panda” and tossing it into Father Stretch My Hands PT. 2. He does a solid job on Freestyle 4, and I’m excited to see what is to come from the new Brooklyn rapper. The Weeknd keeps being the massive star everybody knows he is, and brings an insanely good chorus on FML. It honestly might be my favorite song off the album for the chorus alone, but it’s still too early to call it. Chris Brown does a great job on Waves and it seems like everything Chance did to delay the album to get the song on was worth it. It seems like it could have the best shot at becoming a big hit off the album. to wrap up the features, Rihanna kills it on Famous and sings her damn heart out, and Kendrick shows once again he is one of the hottest rappers in the world with a huge verse on No More Parties in LA. Both artists do exactly what you would expect them to do, and both add more to already great songs.
After the first couple listens through The Life Of Pablo, it seems like Kanye knew exactly what he was doing, and delivered an amazing album that will only build up an already massive fan base, and will do a lot to silence some of the doubters. If there is anything Yeezy has shown since the beginning, it’s that he knows what he is doing, and that he’s not going to stop being himself any time soon. This album is all I’m going to have playing for a while, and if you haven’t listened to it yet, seriously do get your hands on it and listen to it all.
Overall Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
TLOP Top 5:
Ultra Light Beam
Father Stretch My Hands (1/2)
Kanye Album Ranking:
1: My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy
2: College Dropout
3: The Life Of Pablo
4: Late Registration
7: 808’s and Heartbreak