Just putting all the surrounding drama to the side for a moment, The Life of Pablo (TLOP) is a spectacular album. It has standout moments sonically and if you are already a fan of Kanye then TLOP will take little effort to abandon oneself to. The production is sublime as it is with any Kanye project, however as hip-hop has become more beat orientated, crisp production has become less of an achievement. Nevertheless he has managed to create 15 (minus three ‘skits’) songs that are at the very least produced well. On top of this his choice of features is brilliant; Chance the Rapper steals the show on ‘Ultralight Beam’ and Kid Cudi makes a much needed return with his hook on ‘Father Stretch My Hands Pt. 1.’ Other features include the Weeknd, Chris Brown and GOOD Music’s latest signing Desiigner, all of which add something unique to the album.
The lyricism is where some are going to find problems with TLOP. Kanye seems to make little to no effort to portray a message that goes beyond sex and how excellent he is. He does have moments of brilliance lyrically however, ‘No More Parties in LA’ probably being the best example; a track where Kanye outshines arguably the best lyricist in the game right now, Kendrick Lamar, with an epic three minute verse. Beyond this the lyrics are disappointing with only ‘Real Friends’ and ’30 Hours’ joining ‘No More Parties…’ in having Kanye bring consistently strong bars. But Kanye brings a somewhat surprising and at times hilarious self-awareness in the skit ‘I Love Kanye’ where he raps acapella regarding how he has changed from the pink polo wearing innocent ‘old’ Kanye to the new egotistical ‘new’ Kanye. This running commentary on the current state of his life is the leading theme of the album and it becomes clear quickly that this is not an album that wants to be emotionally deep but instead is deliberately shallow.
Continuing from this cohesion is simply not relevant as the album’s sound differs incredibly cover to cover perfectly reflecting the borderline insane life that Kanye now leads. He has made a habit in previous albums to really push the genre forward and bring a whole new sound that many go on to emulate. Yeezus and 808s both heavily influenced numerous eventual giants of hip-hop. TLOP probably won’t have this kind of effect simply because it puts all of Kanye’s old work in the mix and has him pick and choose different aspects of every previous album whilst still somehow keeping it sounding fresh or as one person on Reddit put it: ’It is a Greatest Hits album of songs you’ve never heard’. But whether you want to believe that Kanye has made such an incohesive album on purpose or not it is hard to deny it works for this project.
TLOP is a lot of fun and Kanye’s fans will not be disappointed. It will be a polarising album, just as Yeezus was, but isn’t that just perfect irony coming from such a polarising figure like Kanye is? The album seems to perfectly reflect the chaotic mind that Kanye now has, his Twitter has become a roller coaster that we all, whether we like it or not, have become part of and with the announcement of another album coming this summer this roller coaster has no foreseeable end.