I said I wasn’t going to do it, but I couldn’t help myself. The Life Of Pablo is here (at least the first version), and I can’t help but feel that it’s the sound of an aging pop star doing too much. It’s the audio diary of a world famous egomaniac struggling to come to grips with the mountain of issues every common man must face. But Yeezy is no common man, and his issues aren’t ours. Ask Mark Zuckerberg.
Kanye’s creative process has always been the stuff of nervous, prolific geniuses. That drive and unique ability to shake us up and still deliver classics amidst a predictable shitstorm is arguably the best part of his manic personality. Unfortunately, Kanye allowed The Life OF Pablo to lose its integrity in all this hype. The title changing and track list tweaking sucked the spontaneity out of a record that has plenty of worthy twists and turns. But here we are, fumbling once again to spill out words describing one of the most polarizing celebrities in the history of the world. The problem is, pinpointing the music is the easy and borderline boring part to discuss this time around.
“30 Hours”, “Famous”, and “No More Parties In LA” shine bright in an otherwise forgettable collection of songs that feel more mixtapey than classic record. While the bars from end to end are downright laughable, the work on the boards is expectantly phenomenal.
There’s an all star team of producers, both young and old assisting ‘Ye; and like normal he’s at his best when creating moods that withstand time. He’s a true master of manipulating the social and cultural pulse of the world around him which allows him to create music that is relevant and sexy. Lyrically, it’s a nightmare (click here to read my take on the ten most ridiculous lines from the album), but TLOP’s adventurous sonic range is impressive for a seemingly exhausted Kanye who may have run out of steam on Yeezus, the most ambitious record in his catalog.
Where Yeezus was lost on fans and some critics because of its wild reach and departure from the normal ‘Ye sound, TLOP is a return to heavily relied upon chopped samples (see below), oddly balanced with a clear desire to remain relevant among the Future/Young Thug turn up generation. The real shining stars on this record are the features. Chance the Rapper, Kendrick Lamar, Rihanna, Chris Brown, Kid Cudi, and even Post Malone all help TLOP come off as high class but nothing exceptional.
For every moment of brilliance, you’ll find its counterpart; some speck of noise or lyric that frustrates you as quickly as you were previously wowed. And therein lies the beauty in Mr. West’s work. He commands your attention as a true artist should. He’s aware of the ego and basks in your judgement of it.
Stay patient and wade through the slogging first half of the record. Then sink your teeth into the meaty second act, where it feels like ideas and songwriting actually melded past the brainstorm phase. The sequencing is spot on once again, even when the record feels at least five tracks too long.
Miss the old Kanye? The Life Of Pablo might be as close as you can get before the torch is fully passed to this new generation.We can argue all day about Kanye’s eye and ear for finite details and his oddball decision making process. We can discuss whether this is the final version of the album or if we’ll be bombarded with some new, further tweaked edition down the line. Any way you cut it up, we’re all basking in the Hollywood glow of Yeezy Season, just as it was always intended. #Winning.