Album Review: Kanye West, The Life of Pablo

Kanye West's 8th studio album: The Life of Pablo
Kanye West’s 8th studio album: The Life of Pablo

By Stephen Elliott

You had all the hype and entertainment you wanted in the build up for Kanye West’s new album.

He changed his album name three times before sticking with The Life of Pablo, the release date was delayed, there were Twitter rants and even a rumor of hated businessman Martin Shkreli buying the album’s rights. Yes, it’s entertaining waiting on the works of one of the best musical artists in the modern day.

The Life of Pablo was released on Tidal after Kanye’s performance on Saturday Night Live. It’s Kanye’s eighth studio album and his first since Yeezus in 2013.

The release could not of come at a better time. The Life of Pablo triumphs West’s colleagues (Future, 2 Chainz and Young Thug) released mixtape that lacked in originality. Kanye constantly brings nuances with each new song and the track list on TLOP is no different.

West opens his album with one of the best songs of the decade, “Ultralight Beam” combines Rap and Gospel as Kanye reflects on his relationship with his religion. It starts with an excerpt from a popular Instagram post of a four-year-old girl praying out loud with her family. That leads into Kanye, Kelly Price and The Dream singing about their faith with each final word being punctuated by a church choir. Chance The Rapper’s addition was the icing on the cake. These are the best lyrics in the album as Chance references addresses many things including him staying independent and releasing free material to listeners.

The Life of Pablo sounds like a true anecdote of someone’s life. It’s entertaining listening throughout the album and hearing about Kanye’s relationships with ex-girlfriends. The song “30 Hours” tells the story of one of Kanye’s first relationships, in which he would travel from L.A., to record his first album The College Dropout, to his hometown of  Chicago. His most likely radio-hit is “Waves” written by Kanye and Chance the Rapper features Chris Brown. “Facts” is a ringing endorsement for his new deal with Adidas (you learn how much he hates Nike). The loud bass in this track resembles some of his earlier “workout hits”.

Yet, this album is not Kanye’s best album. You use to be able to hang on to nearly every lyrical hook from College Dropout to My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy. But empty lyrics like his inaccurate reflections on Taylor Swift in “Famous” and reference to Ray J in “Highlights” present his eerie narcissist personality.

But at its core, The Life of Pablo delivers what fans have been waiting for since Yeezus. Even if you strip the lyrics, Kanye’s and Swizz Beatz musical work represents the genre exceptionally. “Real Friends” is probably his worst track on the album but still holds weight compared to recent rap records.

Even hearing Kayne’s financial issues adds another element to the album that makes it sound different once played again. Give Kanye this much, he believes in his music and he knows how paint his story with it.