Album: The Life of Pablo
Artist: Kanye West
Release Date: February 14, 2016
“The Life of Pablo” is the 7th studio album from the hip-hop/rap artist Kanye West released February 14, 2016. It consists of 19 tracks and accomplished mostly positive reviews.
“Mr. West, he’s becoming more arrogant, but I still like him and TLOP,” said senior Alex Esquivel.
As the release of TLOP came about, the album went through many phases and delays during production such as album name changes -like “Waves,” “Swish,” and “So Help Me God”- release dates, track listing, and mixing and finalizing the tracks.
Respectfully so, TLOP is different compared to West’s previous six albums as TLOP was only made available to Tidal, a music-streaming service owned by hip-hop/rap artist Jay-Z. Due to Tidal not wanting to hand over its streaming data to Nielsen ratings, TLOP did not chart or feature on the U.S. Billboards.
Gloriously, the album opens with the song “Ultralight Beam” featuring Chance the Rapper and Kirk Franklin. It’s a powerful song in the way that it features a mighty church choir singing the lyrics. In the song, Kanye gives his condolences to the parents and victims of the Paris attacks and refers to life as being “a god dream.” If you’re more into the old school College Dropout Kanye West then this track will give you positive vibes as this track is different than the rest. It will give you that goosebump feeling and make you look towards the “Ultralight Beam” of Jesus Christ for a better tomorrow. In general, this song is slow, spiritual and gospel heavy.
Advancing to tracks 2 and 3, “Father Stretch My Hands, Parts 1 and 2” features hip-hop/rap artists Kid Cudi and Desiigner. The 1st part starts slow, the synthesizer comes in, you hear Future’s uncredited ad-lib, and then after that the song kicks off. If you’re not really feeling it, this song will uplift you with Kid Cudi’s hook, “beautiful morning, you’re the sun in my morning babe, nothing unwanted.”
Remarkably though, track 3 or the second part of “Father Stretch My Hands” is more upbeat. You can tell when the 2nd part of “Father Stretch My Hands” starts because the slow start from part 1 is sped up in this track, you hear the drum snares or claps and then West comes in with a couple of lyrical rhymes.
Exterior forms of hip-hop/rap, such as trap, is a big influence on this track until the end. The song ends with the slow start again from part one, and then a robotic voice saying, “how can I find you? who do you turn to? how do I find you?” West’s willingness to change things up, to alter and transform his music is seen all together.
Tempos like “30 Hours” featuring Andre 3000, is a good jam-out song if you had a long day at work or want to do some massive cleaning. In the 15th track of TLOP, West raps about how he would drive 30 hours from Los Angeles, California to Chicago, Illinois just to go see his ex-girlfriend. It turns out his ex-girlfriend was cheating on him, yet West was so committed to seeing her by driving 30 hours. Also, this track is probably one of the most upbeat of beats, yet the most detailed description of a part of his life story.
Sadly, what happened to West isn’t right, but the instrumental is phenomenal. West took this song to the next level by using a sample by the late-music artist Arthur Russell. Where Russell says, “baby lions go, where the islands go,” West and his two producers Mike Dean and Karriem Riggins were able to somehow manipulate the “where the islands go” part to make it sound like he’s saying “30 hours.” It takes true craftsmanship to be able to pull something off like that, especially on Kanye West album like TLOP.
West may get a lot of heat for being egocentric, but at the end of the day, this is why people like him, because he’s able to pull out the samples and get crafty like a pro, making him a skilled music producer.
Affluential or prominent tracks that stood out in TLOP are: “Waves” featuring Chris Brown, “Famous” featuring Rihanna, “FML” featuring The Weeknd, “Real Friends” featuring Ty Dolla Sign, “Wolves” featuring Frank Ocean and Caroline Shaw, “No Parties in LA” featuring Kendrick Lamar and “Facts (Charlie Heat Version).” These tracks stand out because they have meaning and when music has meaning, listeners enjoy that because it leaves them with a message that they can grasp on to.
For example, in “Famous” featuring Rihanna, West calls out Taylor Swift by saying that he made her famous. The statement West made about Swift is not true, but it did brew up a storm.
Foreshadowing the significance of “The Life of Pablo” is key. The reason for that is because it’s a living and moving album, literally. You could be listening to one track one minute and then you get some weird transition that leads into something else. Overall, I give this album a 10/10. What’s your opinion on this album?