Kanye West- THE LIFE OF PABLO
Kanye West is a talented guy. There's no denying it, and his mainstream success in the 2000s only serves as the proof: Late Registration, College Dropout, Graduation. However recently, particularly with his latest album Yeezus, I’ve found myself distracted by his shameless egoism and his endless attempts to puff himself up in his achievements and his creative capabilities, which casts a shadow on his musical talent.
That being said, the man creates a spectacle (whether it be casting a positive light on himself or not), and people are drawn to that. The spectacle only added to the hype around this upcoming album, which went through several incarnations during its recording and production, with differing album titles, covers and track listings (from SWISH, to Waves, and now finally The Life of Pablo). Despite this, the release of songs such as ‘Real Friends’ and ‘No Parties in L.A.’ make me go into this record hoping that this time, the ego would be placed aside, and the music will take centre stage.
First of all, this album has some great tunes; some of them were recorded as far back as 2010’s My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy. Many of these tracks do something that Kanye hasn’t done in a long time: provide an examination of the nature of his world as an artist, and a celebrity. ‘FML’ and ‘I Love Kanye’ provide a sometimes hilarious, but compelling, self-depreciative analysis; and the vulnerable ‘Real Friends’, see’s Kanye delve into the nature of his fame and how he neglects, (and is neglected by) family and friends. Additionally, ‘No Parties in LA’ with Kendrick Lamar really show off the chops of Kanye’s abilities, and the song ‘Ultralight Beam’ is by far and away an absolute stunner, showcasing how great some of the production is on some of these songs.
But this is the irony. Kanye raps about the negatives of social issues such as consumerism or racial prejudice, yet he completely embraces it in other tracks on this very album (and in addition, this is something he also does within his infamous public image). Confusing much? That paradox is also transports itself into the music. While some songs sound brilliant, some suffer from appalling production that sound more like demos, like ‘Father Stretch My Hands, Pt.1’. Other suffer from ideas that aren’t fully realised and executed, such as ‘Fade’ or the completely obnoxious ‘Facts’. Kanye also provides some of the most cringeworthy and egotistical rhymes and lyrics in his entire career, rivaling that of some of the shockers of Yeezus (don’t even get me started about that line involving Taylor Swift on the song ‘Famous’ that’s gone all over the internet). Another surprising negative is that with so many supporting artists (from Kid Cudi to Rhianna) on this project, that often actually makes the listener ask ‘is Kanye even on this track? This is his album…. Isn’t it?’
The problem with Kanye’s latest musical project, from its troubles with its production, to the fact that it will only be available on TIDAL, is that it is completely over the place. I find it almost appropriate, because it is what Kanye has boiled down to now. It is all about the spectacle. The talent is still there, and but once again, it is almost completely swamped by the egoism of the artist. One hopes that one day, Kanye may come round and realise that an album is as much about the coherence of the music as it is about the artist creating it.
Music is only available exclusively to TIDAL.