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‘The Life of Pablo’ and Kanye’s ever-expanding ego

‘The Life of Pablo’ and Kanye’s ever-expanding ego

Courtesy | Kanye West

‘The Life of Pablo’ and Kanye’s ever-expanding ego
February 25
00:28 2016

Preston Mitchell | Staff Writer


No other recent album has had the hype of Kanye West. To be fair, Kanye is responsible for much of it. In January, he humiliated Wiz Khalifa simply because he misread one of Khalifa’s tweets. Shortly after, West spent the following weeks claiming himself “the greatest artist of two generations” and that his new album would be “the best in a lifetime.”

Whether West is insane or not, this annoying self-promotion slowly became genius marketing tact. As a result, many Apple Music and Spotify users had to reluctantly stream Kanye’s new work from Tidal.

That work, pretentiously titled “The Life of Pablo,” is just alright.

Although it has some of West’s best songs in years, other tracks feel like artistic pandering without cohesion. The project peaks early with the amazing “Ultralight Beam,” a hybrid of rap and gospel that tackles West’s faith in God. The way that the choir and The-Dream’s vocals harmonize is astounding, and Chance the Rapper’s wacky verse compliments the song nicely.

Other gems include “Real Friends” and “30 Hours,” both of which are the only new Kanye songs that sound like his early work. At the same time, “Famous,” featuring Rihanna, is also a lot of fun. Sure, there’s controversy surrounding Kanye’s lyric: “I feel like me and Taylor might still have sex. Why? Because I made that b—h famous.” That’s simply to ruffle feathers as opposed to the rest of the song, which discusses celebrity notoriety in the guise of a certified banger.

Those themes carry over into my personal favorite track: the Kendrick Lamar-featured “No More Parties in L.A.” Produced by the legendary Madlib, the song is a hilarious deconstruction of how we all perceive the celebrity highlife. Lamar and West bring their A-game here, trading their party stories to one another in clever ways. Unfortunately, the highlights stop there.

Everything else on the album is a disjointed mess that begins with the two-part “Father Stretch My Hands.” While the subject matter is deeply personal with interesting ad-libs from Future and Kid Cudi, the composition falls apart due to an over-reliance on Auto-Tune and distorted production.

Also, it begins a series of questionable lyrics that serve as shock value without any wit attached to them. Think about it: “If I f— this model, and she just bleached her a–hole, and I get bleach on my T-shirt, I’mma feel like an a–hole.” I was instantly done after that.

The eye-rolling continues with songs like “Feedback” and “Lowlights,” both of which tackle faith and success (again) over incredibly unfinished beats. Soon after was the acapella “I Love Kanye,” a decent track where West ends every line with “Kanye.” Even though many people love this song, it has no replay value beyond its own cutesiness.

Majority of the features on this album don’t do it justice either. Chris Brown’s vocals on “Waves” are passable, but fail to achieve the adrenaline rush of Rihanna on “Famous.” The always hard-to-understand Young Thug only brought “Highlights” down with him, which was already bland and braggadocious to begin with. “Wolves” is also forgettable since Frank Ocean’s lack of singing talent impeded the momentum even more.

In fact, one of the only songs that made any effort to be a coherent song was “FML.” Halting this track from greatness is the inclusion of The Weeknd, whose whiny voice serves as an interruption to Kanye’s solid wordplay. It’s a real shame because the topic of Kanye’s lack of self-control makes it such an engaging listen.

Alas, “The Life of Pablo” felt less like a Picasso and more like a Jackson Pollock. It collects a few hits and mostly misfires that illustrate how egotistical Kanye West has become. While this project is certainly better “Yeezus,” it’s still not worth wasting your time on Tidal streaming. Unless you’re already a Kanye fan, skip the album.

Featured Image: Courtesy | Kanye West

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