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The Dose: ‘The Life of Pablo’ strikes a solid chord but seems unfinished

The Dose: ‘The Life of Pablo’ strikes a solid chord but seems unfinished

Courtesy | Kanye West

The Dose: ‘The Life of Pablo’ strikes a solid chord but seems unfinished
February 25
00:15 2016

Kyle Martin | Staff Writer



Finally we have “The Life of Pablo,” no thanks to Chance the Rapper or vilified pharmaceutical entrepreneur Martin Shkreli, who tried to purchase the album so that only he could have it (you’re wrong for trying to hold the hip-hop community hostage, you dirtbag).

But no more complaining—we’ve got it, and here’s the result.

The record is Kanye comparing himself to the likes of artist Pablo Picasso and drug kingpin Pablo Escobar. Beginning with “Ultralight Beam,” the album opens on a strong note. Though I don’t particularly like Kanye’s singing (personal preference—sue me), the powerful gospel backing vocals are insane.

Courtesy | Kanye West

Courtesy | Kanye West

Featured on this first track are Chance the Rapper, Kirk Franklin, Mary J. Blige and a mighty gospel choir.  I have a soft spot for soulful choirs, and Mary J. Blige, laying it down in the middle of the song, really took me to church on this opening track.

Chance’s verse had signature classic style and flow. Rapping about his newly-born daughter, the making of his song “Sunday Candy” and meeting Kanye, among other things, he didn’t disappoint. The track was a great start to the record.

Next up: “Father Stretch My Hands Pt. 1” and “Pt. 2,” featuring Kid Cudi and Future.  (Really pay attention to that first verse on Pt. 1 for some explicit details about how to do laundry).  Pt. 1 is succinct, hooking right into Pt. 2.

The two tracks seem to be a message for Kanye’s father, but lyrically, if you were to ask me what he’s trying to say with these tracks, I wouldn’t have an answer. 

Following a short interlude at the end of Pt. 2, Rihanna’s voice rings out in “Famous,” a track about Kanye’s rise to fame—and how he helped a few people out along the way. He also speaks about having sex with Taylor Swift, which is odd, but it’s Kanye. Everything about the dude is odd.

The rapper and his ego do a little wordsmithing here, and if you know Kanye’s music, listen for some allusions to older songs (“Wake up, Mr. West!”), which lead into the following track.

The next few songs—“Feedback,” “Low Lights,” “Highlights”—are whatever. In “Feedback,” Kanye compares himself to the Pablos he relates with. “Low Lights” is a polite interlude with a good beat and a lot of potential, but it didn’t really build to anywhere. In “Highlights” he raps about a certain male appendage.

And “Freestyle” just sucks.

Then there’s “I Love Kanye,” a song by Kanye, about how much Kanye loves Kanye, directed at Kanye, for Kanye. In the song, Kanye says Kanye 25 times (play it at work to annoy your friends. It’s great).

The next track is the reason for the huge delay of the album and the song Chance fought for. He’s not even featured on it, but he loved it so much that it must have been a pretty big deal.  Titled “Waves,” the track would do well on the radio, as it features Chris Brown. But it wasn’t anything to brag about.

One of my favorite tracks on the record because of its intense beat, “FML,” featured The Weeknd. It was followed by the relatable lyrics of “Real Friends” as Kanye raps about loyalty and just that, “real” friends.

“Wolves” is excellent, “Silver Surfer Intermission” is a phone call I didn’t pay attention to, and “30 Hours” grooves, reminding me of the old Kanye feel. I thoroughly enjoyed “30 Hours,” and Kanye actually raps for a while on this track, which doesn’t seem to be a theme on the first half of this album.

“No More Parties In L.A.” takes the cake, simply because Kendrick Lamar is the feature and Kendrick is king. He was the best rapper on the entire record. His featured verse was solid, and Kanye rocked a 94.5 classic hip-hop feel. For me, this was definitely the sharpest track of the project.

“Facts” felt like Drake’s and Future’s “Jumpman” (not a bad thing), and “Fade” wrapped up the record well enough.

Ultimately, the whole project was just all right.  I think most will find that the record seems unfinished, especially considering Kanye himself has said he needs to “fix” some songs.

With Kanye dropping another album this summer, (brought to us by a Twitter rampage) running his fashion merchandising endeavors and living with someone like Kim (all on top of having a new kid), Yeezus may be biting off more than he can chew.

The record could be better, but it could definitely be worse. It’s worth a listen, nonetheless.

Courtesy | Kanye West

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