Album Review: The Life of Pablo

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“Ayy, y’all heard about the good news?” Kanye West begins to rap on “Feedback,” a track dedicated to how rich he is and how much he doesn’t care about you underneath it all. He continues, “Y’all sleeping on me, huh? Had a good snooze.” This contradicts the initial thought of having the availability of the album, The Life of Pablo, only on Tidal, as it was released because most fans probably weren’t having good snoozes, so we stressed as patience became more of a game of waiting. This was all after an event at MSG where the rapper announced his new Yeezy 3 line while playing the original album trackless. The album does leave you with the fur, jet and big booty woman from the ghetto Oprah himself. So it all works out in the end… no?

It’s “Feedback,” that predominantly creates the atmosphere for the album with distortions and sweat spread on like butter. Kanye lives in a perceptive environment where genius is questioned by the messiness surrounding it. This album fills the stratosphere of examples into a properly incoherent mess only he could make work. And it works well. 

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As quoted by a friend, “‘Steve Jobs mixed with Steve Austin’ is the most accurate lyric in rap history,” in regards to what Kanye is mentally. Think about it more and it becomes fact.

The album opens strong with “Ultra Light Beams,” which is what we’d expect a gospel song from Kanye to sound like. And it’s amazing. Chance the Rapper and Kirk Franklin shine on it. It’s the best constructed Kanye West song since “Monster,” and “So Appalled.”

It’s tracks like, “Famous,” and “Father Stretch My Hand Part 2,” where he lost his focus just to have Future write all over the whole album, even though he didn’t. It has Kanye aspiring to be someone he’s not. “Pt. 2,” deviates itself into a misplayed hole. “Pt. 2,” is a Kanye verse, and then he just takes Desiigner’s first verse from his hit “Panda,” and guides it into a unoriginal combine of what is The Life of Pablo. It does not discredit his great verse on the track. “30 Hours,” is another track where Kanye shines lyrically, but the underuse of three stacks (Andre 3000) actually drags it longer then the track should be.

Sometimes there are moments where Kanye completely becomes Kanye 2.0, the corrupted version. As Kanye’s career progressed, his maturity doesn’t feel natural. 

The interlude, “I Love Kanye,” gives that self indulgence we crave, but not for the better. It’s Kanye satirizing the Kanye loves Kanye meme without any real substance. The other interludes are welcomed warmly, but only the Max B blessing is choice.

The Life of Pablo is that album where the jumbled mess is a torrential downpour of great noises that don’t all fit together and fragments end up better than the album as a whole. It doesn’t excuse the album’s overall quality though. When it gets good, the album gets really good at the expense of this whole contradiction Kanye has been living.

Through his Twitter, Kanye’s fingers declared a lot of biblical and gospel-like meaning into the album’s title and music, which to seems to reflect the idea of god having put you here for a reason. And to him that means flaunt his riches, lifestyle and whatever else Kanye can do in an irrespective manner. He sounds like he’s talking to himself in the mirror, but who hasn’t done that before? But Kanye has a heart that can feel. “Real Friends,” is a great example of Kanye letting his heart out.

The instrumentation never has a feeling of incompletion, but it lacks some imagination. “Feedback,” incorporates a lot of rough sounding synths over low bass drums that add more to its overlying layers as opposed to the phone sounding feedback noise at the end that is a little off, but fitting. “Highlights,” follows with an uninteresting instrumental, as well as “FML,” but The Weeknd and a perfectly used Section 25 sample were able to save it from more dullish greatness. The former applies to the track “Waves,” which was the track that we had to wait for an extra day to listen.

The Life of Pablo shows how broken and flawed all of this has made Kanye through the subsequent years. He refrains “Wake Up Mr. West,” on “Feedback” with “Wake Up Nigga, Wake Up.” Yet as he emphasises the n-word so much, he hasn’t woken up to realize this isn’t it. Kanye, this isn’t it, no more Twitter fingers, no more fighting what proven with your own disbelief. Remember when Kanye rapped, “I guess the money should’ve changed him, I guess I should’ve forgot where I came from,” so eloquently on the track “Can’t Tell Me Nothing?” Remember how at this point Kanye had an actual canvas full of genuinely inspired sounds? Despite being a big contributor to help the youth in impoverished neighborhoods in the south side of Chicago, the money has changed Kanye. And yet, on “Feedback,” he raps “Money never made me, Make me do something? Nah didn’t change me,” a possible nod to old Kanye, but still compiling into this big contradiction of a life that is Kanye. And yet it is one of the most enticing contradictions ever rapped. 

Also “Famous,” will never be forgiven. So like the great Sean Maguire said, “It’s not your fault, Kanye, it’s not your fault.”

(BLESSED)

Kevin Montes is one sarcastically satirical dude. He’s usually at home watching hours of comedy and television, primarily Simpsons. Kevin aspires to be a TV writer, a joke writer, and composer for all things Harmony Korine. You can reach him on twitter @iamkevinmontes to further ask about all things Simpsons.