Yes, I am, as the kids would say, mad late. But I have finally given Mr. West's latest album a listen. First released to public on Thursday, during "Yeezy Season 3" an over stated fashion show and listening party at Madison Square Garden and live streamed on, you guessed it, Tidal. It seems that the prompt to download Tidal along with Rihanna's album release was all to lead us into this. After months of hints, twitter rants, and title changes KanYe West's long anticipate 8th studio album "The Life of Pablo" is finally here.
Just last night he performed the 1st track of the album, arguably the best track of the album, "Ultralight Beam" with featured artists The Dream, Kelly Price, Chance the Rapper and an entire choir on Saturday Night Live. The new age gospel track on which Mr. West declares "This is a God dream" is just the liberation Yeezus himself needs at this point, and uplift for its listeners. Fellow Chicagoan and one who grew up on KanYe West, Chance The Rapper, nearly steals the show with one of his best verses of his still very young career, nothing short of a testimony. The Dream's soft voice paralleled with Kelly Price's strong voice and accompanied by the powerful choir, followed by a prayer from Kirk Franklin; Mr. West did that. The album takes a slippery slope down into the fluffy bullshit of too many samples and non-sensical song lyrics. Yes, straight like that. Musically each track is well composed and definitely reflective of the times of this new and very weird hip-hop style. Essentially each song is either really short, or 3 songs in one. Mr. West, the producer, has not fallen off and has not been left behind. The features are what make help make this album impressive with everyone on "Ultralight Beam", Rihanna, KiD CuDI, The Weeknd, Chris Brown, Frank Ocean, and more.
A few standouts include "pt. 2" heavily sampling a song called "Panda" by a young Brooklyn rapper by the name of Designer; and "Famous" with a Nina Simone sample sang by Rihanna, many Swizz Beats ad-libs, and a sample of 90's reggae hit "What a Bam Bam" by Sister Nancy. A personal favorite of mine is "I love KanYe" a short A Capella on which he closes with "and I love you like KanYe loves KanYe"
Overall, this album confuses me. I am more baffled than Yeezus left me (see my review of Yeezus here). I appreciate the effort put into the tunes, the beats are "dude, lock yourself in a room doing 5 beats a day for 3 summers" fire. But I have no idea what this man is talking about. and maybe it's just that, maybe this an album declaring that Mr. West is "free" as he says and can say whatever the fuck he wants. However being free, is not the freedom for being an asshole.