So today is a big day for Kanye West. Not only are his black on black Yeezys being re-released by Adidas, but his Life of Pablo album is — or should be but we all know Kanye — dropping on all music services. Now all of us can finally delete that pesky Tidal app that Kanye decided to release the album on a week before any other music service could get their hands on it. In order to make this review, I had to download the Tidal app, start the one-month free trial, and tussle with Tidal every time I skipped a song because the app is atrocious. I write this about the app because it changes the experience for the listener. Listening to The Life of Pablo was a bit irritating because every time I wanted to go back or skip a ridiculous intermission — do not worry, we will get into that — the app would just give out on me. The artist here should be concerned because the effect he is attempting to bring to his audience is tainted by poor programming. Also, Kanye claims he wants to make the Yeezy sneakers more available to the masses, yet he releases his own album on an exclusive website. Sounds like a contradiction, but who can honestly be surprised at this point. The man calls himself Yeezus.
Kanye’s The Life of Pablo is a hefty 18 track album with features from Kendrick Lamar, Rihanna, Future, Kid Cudi, and other greats from the rap industry. Unfortunately, listeners probably will not be able to see which song these great artists are featured on because Kanye’s ego decided to only credit himself for every song.
However, Kanye might not be able to handle someone telling him he is not the Messiah, but what he can handle is producing music. At the very beginning of the album, the listener is hit with a 5:20 song called, “Ultralight Beam”. The song features Chance the Rapper and sets the tone for the rest of the album with its unique gospel-esque sound. Three songs later, the listener gets Kanye’s track, “Famous”. The song featuring Rihanna is basically Kanye yelling at you, saying he “made [Taylor Swift] famous”. This is unfortunate because Rihanna’s chorus is spectacular, Kanye’s flow is on point, and the beat is one of the best on the album. However, Yeezy’s lyrics are crass and ignorant. He ruined a potentially incredible song because he allowed his image and ego to take over instead of the artist listeners hear small snippets of nowadays. “Freestyle 4” is one of those small snippets I am referring to. The song that features Future, brings this eerie, evil villain vibe to the album that is always necessary in a Kanye album. From there, the album is basically Kanye’s “Good Friday” lineup of songs he released before the album.
All in all, the album does have some weight to it. Kanye brings some great and different sounds to your speakers, which is always welcome in an era where rappers are turning into pop stars. “Real Friends,” “30 Hours,” and “Facts (Charlie Heat Version)” are incredible songs that show Kanye at his best. However, egotism and arrogance are prominent themes found in rap songs. Kanye exhausts these themes which changes powerful lyrics into stale and mundane songs. Before The Life of Pablo, Kanye’s albums had just the right amount of pretension. Now, the same ego that made him famous is beginning to spill into his art. This makes buying a Kanye album important because it’s Kanye, and not because of the incredible music it holds.