Kanye West is problematic. With that being said, he’s easily my favorite artist. All of his albums have been significant in my life and The Life Of Pablo sounds like it will be no exception. From the opening track, it’s clear he’s determined to raise the bar that he set back in 2010 with My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy. Ultralight Beam is one of the most beautifully crafted songs I’ve ever heard. Kanye is barely present, but clearly his hands are all over the track. This is one of the rare instances where the term “Gospel Rap” fits. Chance The Rapper delivers a flawless verse for the song that belongs on the pulpit. Nothing else reaches the heights of Ultralight Bean. This is the clear progression of what Kanye started with MBDTF’s Lost In The World, but pushed further and laced with more Sunday Morning Service. There’s nothing bad on this album. After my first listen I think Freestyle 4 and Waves may be my least favorite, but that could easily change. The two skits, a prayer on Low Light and a phone call from Max B, are perfect. 30 Hours is well-produced and performed, Father Stretch My Hands Pt. 1 & 2 continue the intros gospel feel, and although Wolves is nearly a year old, it sounds better than ever. I love that Kanye didn’t completely leave behind some of the Yeezus-sound. Feedback is clearly On Sight’s cousin, but it’s more Hip-Hop and more palatable.
He still knows how to manage other amazing talent and use their strengths perfectly. He knew exactly where to put The Dream, Frank Ocean, Ty Dolla $ign and Chris Brown. There is far less rapping on here than his other projects, and I can’t pinpoint any particular verses that stick out like Gorgeous on MBDTF or Gone on Late Registration. He uses a fair amount of autotune and creating unique melodies. He’s Dr. Dre here, and although he plays that role with every album, it’s more obvious now. Maybe I’ll notice more Kanye as I continue to listen and absorbing this project.
Again, Kanye is problematic. It seems like he purposely wants to push us away with his tweets, rants, and antics, and reel us back in with his music. He did a great job turning the general public against him during the lead up to SWISH/WAVES/TLOP. I’m no longer a fan of him as a human, but I think he’s secured his spot as one of the best rap artists ever.
It has been fascinating to watch Kanye react to the rap world around him. It has always been clear that Drake’s talent, abilities and likeability has affected Kanye. He’s clearly watched Kendrick become a lyrical titan and musical rival. He’s definitely watched Future and Young Thug from afar. Kanye took the changes around him and created this weird, soulful, holy, narcissistic, sarcastic, misogynistic and unstructured gumbo….. that’s fucking incredible.
Oh! The Jacksons>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>> The Kardashians. That goes without saying.