Kanye’s ‘The Life of Pablo’ album is chaotic, confusing and beautiful

Vincent Nguyen, Reporter

After waiting, and waiting, and waiting…. and… waiting, finally, Kanye West decided to release his seventh studio album, “The Life of Pablo,” late Saturday night, early Sunday morning. After his Saturday Night Live performance, he claimed the album was out for purchase and able to be streamed exclusively on Tidal.

The album rollout was messy, chaotic, confusing, nontraditional and all worth it at the end, much like the album itself. From Kanye’s rampant tweeting, to changing the name of the title four times, to tweaking the album even after premiering it at Madison Square Garden, “TLOP” seems like West’s most overworked project and his least-finished all in one.

Before the release, West tweeted the album was a “gospel” album. Hit play on the album and the first voice you hear is a young, passionate girl preaching about God, followed by a church choir and an organ. The 5 minute and 21 second song is an ode to West’s faith in God. When he feels like he doesn’t have the strength to fight, he searches for the light and knows with God, all will be alright (I’m tryna keep my faith // We on a ultralight beam, We on a ultralight beam // This is a God dream). Kelly Price blesses the song with a soulful and powerful verse midway in the song before Chance the Rapper swoops in and takes the spotlight. The Chicago born rapper delivers an astounding, spiritual, memorable verse that only he can produce. In a way, this was a passing of the torch to “Lil Chano from 79.”

“Father Stretch My Hands Part 1 and Part 2,” feature Kanye’s past and present. On Part 1 Kanye brings his old friend Kid Cudi back who lends a beautiful, melodic hook over rattling hi-hats. On Part 2, Kanye samples vocals from the song “Panda” by 18-year-old Brooklyn, newly G.O.O.D. music signee, and Future rip-off, Desiigner.

The fourth track, “Famous,” featuring Rihanna and Swizz Beatz, is one of the biggest highlights on the album. Over a menacing instrumental, Kanye provides his braggadocios swagger plus a smooth flow to create a musical triumph. Then the “Bam Bam” by Sister Nancy sample in the second half of the song is icing on the cake. Oh yeah, and of course there’s that Taylor Swift lyric (I feel like me and Taylor might still have sex, why? I made that b—- famous).

“Feedback” and “Freestyle 4” sound like songs that could have been on his previous solo studio album, “Yeezus,” with their outlandish, experimental electronic sounds.

One of Kanye’s best traits is his ability to perfectly pick features and put them in the perfect settings. The way he can combine and package so much talent and get the best out of each is remarkable. Chris Brown doesn’t sound generic and annoying on “Waves.” Ty Dolla $ign sounds perfect on both “Real Friends” and “Fade” along with Post Malone. “FML” is assisted by a very “Trilogy-esque” hook from The Weeknd. West and Kendrick Lamar go bar for bar on “No More Parties in LA.”

Another highlight from the album is the 13th track, “Wolves.” The song originally premiered in 2015 and went through many changes and alters before landing on TLOP. Right when the first bass note hits and the wooing from Caroline Shaw, you can feel the pain, emotion and power the song presents. In the song Kanye also compares himself and his wife, Kim Kardashian, to Mary and Joseph and their children to blessings. “Cover Nori in lambs’ wool, we surrounded by the f*****g wolves // What if Mary was in the club, ‘fore she met Joseph with no love? // Cover Saint in lambs’ wool, we surrounded by the f*****g wolves,” he paints.

At the end of “Wolves,” the least expected voice on the album arrives. Singer Frank Ocean decides to come out from the rock he was under and lends a spine-chilling, haunting, goosebumps-filled outro.

The 15th track, “30 Hours,” combines an Arthur Russell sample with menacing, compacted drums and a funky bass line. Kanye as usual is no stranger in sending jabs. “My ex says she gave me the best years of her life // I saw a recent picture of her, I guess she was right,” he jeers.

There is a lot to process while listening to the 58 minute and 2 second album. From the complicated song structures with twists and turns. To all the different sounding filled productions, this is what I guess Kanye meant when he said the album was going to be a “sonic painting.” The Gospel inspired “Ultralight Beam”, the bouncy “Fade”, the murky, dense “Real Friends,” there is something for everyone on this album.

The chaotic theme to the album could be a light into the 38-year-old rapper’s current mindset. It will be interesting how this album will be ultimately be judged among other West albums. “The Life of Pablo” gives you a mix of every Kanye album and puts it all together in one sonic painting.

Rating: 9/10

Favorite Tracks: Ultralight Beam, Father Stretch My Hands Part 1, Famous, FML, Real Friends, Wolves, 30 Hours, No More Parties in LA

Least Favorite Tracks: Feedback

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