June 7, 2016

The Life of Pablo May Be The Death of Kanye

Eran Shapiro ‘18

Finally, after three years of waiting, on February 14, Kanye West released his
seventh studio album, “The Life of Pablo.” West, in the months leading up to the album’s
release, excited many of his fans by making numerous changes to the album.
Originally the album was changed from “So Help Me God” to “SWISH,” then to “Waves,” and finally “The Life of Pablo.” He also had changed the track listing several times and teased his fans by releasing numerous singles, but not promising they would make it on the album. By the end, “The Life of Pablo” was released with 18 tracks and numerous guest vocalists.
The album begins with “Ultralight Beam,” a song featuring vocals by Kelly Price and a verse by Chance the Rapper. The gospel choir vocals in the background helps carry West’s message about his faith in G-d.
West then continues with “Father Stretch My Hand Pt. 1 & 2,” which follows the religious theme presented in the first track. In part 1, West talks about his past, his car accident, his parents divorce, and the death of his mother. In part 2, Kanye features Desiigner, an artist who is famous for his style and flow that mimics rappers like Bryson Tiller and Young Thug.
The tracks “Low Lights” and “Highlights” also emphasize West’s praise of God and his good fortune while “Wolves,” an edited version of a previously released single, uses religious themes to complement notions of his mother’s likely disappointment in West’s current persona.
The song “Famous,” which features Rihanna, is one of the best tracks on this project. Rihanna personifies fame in the intro by saying, as fame, “man I can understand how it might be kinda hard to love a girl like me.” West then continues throughout the song to struggle with the consequences of fame. Although West’s verse on this track is deeply narcissistic, its humour and egotism gives it an authentic Kanye feel.
“Feedback,” a song reminiscent of what many fans disliked about West’s sixth album, “Yeezus,” features poor auto-tune and the typical West defense that describes his own erratic behavior as ingenuity.
“Freestyle 4,” a track sung by an intoxicated West who is erratic and making poor decisions, is yet another example of what fans deride in West, as it is fueled by filler lines that talk about his money and his lavish lifestyle. There isn’t anything original about this track in terms of who Kanye is or how the track is produced.
“I Love Kanye,” a track that has no beats and only vocals, features West commenting on how he is viewed by many people today. It emphasizes the reaction people give him for a lot of his current work.
“Waves,” Kanye’s 10th song on “The Life of Pablo,” features Chris Brown and focuses on a metaphor of waves being like the emotions of someone who is brokenhearted. “Waves,” one of the album’s most popular tracks, also features a complex beat that pulls the listener in and superbly expresses the mood of the track.
Similarly “FML,” one of the darkest tracks on this album, has an intense but simple beat that mirrors the cold lyrics on this song. West speaks about his depression and his struggles to stay faithful to his wife. “FML” features a chilling hook by The Weeknd.
“Real Friends” is a track where ‘Ye puts his relationships and his fame into perspective. He takes an honest look at who is to blame for the downfall of many of his relationships. West concludes that many people take advantage of his wealth by trying to ask him for things and using their “friendship” for their own benefits.
However, he also talks about how he is constantly putting work before his friends and family. He blames himself for losing touch with his friends by always forgetting to call and for ignoring the people he cares about.
“No More Parties In L.A,” is hands down one of the best tracks of the entire album. It not only features a great verse by Kendrick Lamar, but it also has one of the album’s best verses. This track, as compared to the others, best exemplifies the “old Kanye,” as West’s introspectiveness is heavily felt and his passion about real issues is clear.
West pays homage to two very influential artists, André 3000 and Lauryn Hill. It is a very personal verse that is also clever and witty. He also speaks on deep issues like parents manipulating kids during custody battles. Although sprinkled into this track there are some fairly forgettable lines like, “Get money, money, money, money/Big, big money, money, money, money” it is still forgivable because of Lamar and West’s well-written and well-delivered verses.
West’s swagger is on full display in the diss track, “Facts” and is aimed squarely at Nike. West takes this opportunity to thank rival company Adidas and brag about his new shoe line. He also talks about becoming more successful than the Michael Jordan shoe line. The beat on this track is great, as it samples Father Children’s “Dirt and Grime” for the intro and outro and then has a gangster rap beat for the duration of the song.
The album’s final song, “Fade,” though, failed to capture the energy of the two preceding tracks and serves as a rather disappointing conclusion. Post Malone and Ty Dolla $ign’s guest spots on the track fail to redeem its hollow lyrics, which feature corny lines and a meandering point. Oh, and it also doesn’t exactly feature West at all as he doesn’t have much influence on the song; when he does show up, his vocals are blurred out by the track’s Rare Earth sample.
Overall, “The Life of Pablo” is a pretty disappointing album. It didn’t have any direct or
powerful themes and it crashed and burned in a lot of the same areas “Yeezus” did: filler lines, low-quality beats and little direction.

Many diehard Kanye fans will still attempt to use the strong points of this album to defend him, but it seems as if West already peaked.

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