[Words By// @K1ngEljay]
Sometimes, just having clarity helps.
I feel like we’ve said this before recently, but it bears repeating, especially in the curious case of Kanye West. After releasing The Life Of Pablo, his latest album, on Tidal and declaring that it will never be sold, it shortly was put back into the oven to fine-tune a few things. Thankfully, the project is the better for it, but it caused a bit of an issue for those trying to review/promote the thing.
Like, us, for instance.
That being said, it seems like the Pablo audio painting is completed and we can officially give our thoughts on it, and it has to be said that this is probably the most fun Kanye West album we’ve ever gotten (outside of his introduction to mainstream, The College Dropout). It’s a perfect encapsulation of every Yeezy album he’s given, but it’s not exactly a bad thing in this case; it just means that Kanye has a lot of ideas running every which way, and that, unfortunately, is reflected in the project as well.
There’s a saying about having too many chefs in the kitchen and how it’s a negative thing, and The Life of Pablo has so many different chefs cooking at once it makes you wonder if it’s even about the food, er, music, at the end of it all. It could definitely be viewed as a crowd-sourcing statement (not unlike the process that Chance The Rapper’s been using for his last two projects, or how Ludacris thrived in the early 2000s), but all of that doesn’t quite matter if the music doesn’t resonate. Lucky for us, this album is filled with highlight moments that resonate, and for multiple reasons.
If honest ‘Ye is what a listener needs, “FML” and “Real Friends” holds a sense of vulnerability that we can forget about behind the bravado of “Father Stretch My Hands Pt 1” and “Famous.” Kanye continues to keep an ear to the more modern music that he enjoys (which, again, isn’t a new thing; we didn’t forget about his Jeezy collaboration “Put On”, or his DJ Khaled collaborations, right?) with “Pt. 2” (a.k.a an alternate version of “Panda” featuring rookie upstart Desiigner) and “Facts” (a legal retelling of his “Jumpman” freestyle). If the guttural screams of Yeezus is what you miss (which, for the record, I don’t), then “Feedback” has a mix of those elements for you to enjoy, while the uplifting angle is ever-present on the critically acclaimed intro, “Ultralight Beam.”
We don’t have to talk about how great that intro is.
The gift of The Life of Pablo is also its curse; due to Kanye pulling from several different elements of his creative process in his life (i.e, albums) and multiple producers and writers, the project doesn’t quite flow together like it should, especially towards the end. It’s a push and pull effect with the music, with several different vibes hitting at seemingly random times. It lacks that cohesiveness that most Kanye West projects have, and maybe that’s due to the “let’s pop it back in the oven” mentality that he’s approaching this one with (for example, he added “Saint Pablo” to the tracklisting recently). Whether it works long term or not remains to be seen, but for now it works well due to the highlights that carry Pablo through its lower, confusing moments. Like all Kanye projects, we’ll have to let this one breathe for a while to truly appreciate or critique it…
Or, at least, wait until it’s completely done and Ye gets tired of editing it.