The Life of Pablo: Album Review
Finally, Kanye West has released to us his highly-anticipated seventh solo studio album, The Life of Pablo! We’ve been waiting for this one for a while. You may recall, a few months ago, I wrote an article about Kanye losing his shine to Drake. Well, he’s stolen it right back for the time being to give us something we’ve been waiting for since 2013’s Yeezus. If you’re familiar with current pop culture, Kanye West really doesn’t need an introduction. All you need to know is he’s polarizing, he’s artistic and he’s got one of the most loyal followings in the music world. Today, I get the privilege of reviewing his album.
The project begins with Ultralight Beam, featuring Chance the Rapper and a whole whack of gospel-related artists. This song’s swelling keys are stylistically reminiscent of much of Chance’s work. This song is light and spiritual, with Kanye delivering somewhat of a sermon, specifically regarding peace on earth, before Chance delivers an amazing sung/rapped verse about being a celebrity and spirituality. This song is very feel-good and is a great intro.
Next is the part one and part two of Father Stretch My Hands, which feature Kid Cudi on the first part, an original track, and Desiigner on the second part, which is essentially a reworking of the latter’s recent hit “Panda”. Part one is interesting, but Kanye’s verse on part two, over the Panda instrumental is great. Kanye’s meshing with Desiigner’s verse adds to the already banger track.
Famous, featuring Rihanna, is next and is a great take on an old Nina Simone song. This track’s a great banger with a hard beat, and Swizz Beats definitely does his job, adding to the track with his ad-libs in a way similar to Jeezy on 2007’s “Can’t Tell Me Nothing”
TLOP continues with Feedback -- another, catchier take on the distorted Yeezus sound. The instrumental and hook on this track are particularly enjoyable.
Next, the album hits a bit of a mediocre section with another sermon-type track on Low Lights before Highlights (feat. Young Thug and The-Dream), which admittedly is catchy and is a bit reminiscent of Graduation instrumentally.
Freestyle 4, a slightly vulgar but short track follows. The twisted string melody in the beat creates a lot of instrumental tension.
I Love Kanye, a 44 second verse follows, which is great, humorous and acts as Kanye’s response to all those who complain about his changing music. This was a light-hearted contribution to the album that provides Kanye’s commentary on something that’s really happened quite a bit in his career.
“Waves”, with Chris Brown, follows. This track is very has a very anthem-like feel, with a great, expansive hook and an epic instrumental.
FML (feat. The Weeknd) is next and is the beginning of a run of about three gloomy, sadder songs, which are three of the strongest on the album. Here, Kanye sings about his frustrations with life amidst the Weeknd’s self-deprecating hook.
The next song, Real Friends, which was released prior to the album carries on this dark tone and is Kanye venting frustrations at the disconnect in his personal relationships. The beat here is phenomenal. The drums and sample blend perfectly and the track features a short run at the end with vocals similar to those heard when the next track, Wolves, leaked earlier this year, providing a seamless transition.
“Wolves” follows and features a very minimalistic beat framed around the aforementioned vocals. This features a very cynical look at the world from Kanye and though I’m disappointed by the removal of Vic Mensa and Sia’s vocals, this track is atmospherically great. We get a short verse at the very end from Frank Ocean, whose delicate vocals wind down with the melancholy track.
After a short interlude from Max B, we get the bonus tracks, including 30 Hours, a track which is a little too long and has a very uninteresting beat despite having pretty great lyrics.
No More Parties In LA (feat. Kendrick Lamar) is a song most of us have heard before, but it’s still a great listen, featuring an extended rhyme-off between King Kendrick and Ye.
A reworking of “Facts” follows, before the album closes with Fade (feat. Ty Dolla Sign and Post Malone). This is a great dance track, though I do wis
h Kanye had contributed more vocals, as opposed to the song being primarily sung by Ty.
The Life Of Pablo really was all it was cracked up to be. Though some songs weren’t great, Kanye provided us with enough great ones to make a body of work that’s a fun, varied listen.
Favourite Songs (In order of appearance): Ultralight Beam (feat. Chance the Rapper), Pt. 2 (feat. Desiigner), Famous, Feedback, FML (feat. The Weeknd), Real Friends (feat. Ty Dolla Sign), No More Parties In LA (feat. Kendrick Lamar)
Least Favourite Song: 30 Hours