- Category: Volume 87 (Fall 2015 - Spring 2016)
- Published: 24 February 2016
- Written by JACOB TURCHI | CONTRIBUTING WRITER
The biggest news in the music community the past month has been “Yeezus” himself, and his very anticipated seventh album. The Life of Pablo was released Feb. 14 on Kanye’s own record label “GOOD (Getting Out Our Dreams) Music, Inc.,” which has also released albums by other hip-hop and R&B artists like Common, John Legend, and Pusha T.
Three different singles were dropped in promotion of Kanye’s latest project, although none of them can be found on the final playlist. Fans were excited to see the collaboration between Kanye and Sir Paul McCartney on tracks like “FourFiveSeconds” and “Only One.” Both of these songs had a romantic element to them, and contained subject matters relating to Kanye’s own personal relationships and struggles with fatherhood. Then, the release of the track “All Day” brought back the more visceral and hip hop side to Kanye’s nature, in which he praised his own ego while being both very profane and upbeat.
Before the album’s release, the project title went under three name changes. Originally called “So Help Me God,” it was then changed to “SWISH” and then to “WAVES.” It wasn’t until shortly before the album’s release that it was renamed The Life of Pablo. The album was promised to drop on Feb. 11, but was not officially put out until the 14th; in the days between, fans were kept abreast about what was happening with the album through Kanye’s Twitter feed.
Kanye first updated the album’s track list by adding seven additional tracks, increasing the work’s run time by over half an hour, still promising the fans that the album would be done, mastered and ready to release on the 12th. He then released the cover art, as well as a website that allows you to fill in your own text in the same format as the album cover.
Finally the album was released, but only on the streaming website tidal.com, which serves solely to subscribers. Kanye has been a huge supporter of this service since it was created by Jay-Z in 2014, and has strongly urged fans to download and subscribe to the website. Although it did increase views to the website, it is estimated that the album has been illegally downloaded over 500,000 times. Regardless, Kanye is still sticking with the site and refuses to stream it under any free format. To this day, Spotify has not acquired the rights to stream The Life of Pablo.
The thing that makes Kanye’s albums so appealing to listeners is how thematic they are. From the beginning of his discography to now, fans have been able to see him grow as a musician and as a person, as the themes of every album pertain to his own life and problems. His first albums, The College Dropout and Late Registration, were both about his frustrations of being single, trying to live up to expectations, remembering his own upbringings in Chicago, and finding his own career path and sound for himself. Albums like Graduation and 808s and Heartbreaks, however, seem to be more focused on the fame he has now found, his struggle to be original, and trying to find new ways of expression. His last two projects, My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy and Yeezus, were certainly more introspective, analyzing his own flaws, ego, and lack of self-control, and he leaves the audience wondering whether it’s a good or bad thing. His latest project is no exception. The Life of Pablo is centered on the relationships he has in his life with the church, the business, other people in the music world, his wife, his friends and family, and many others.
The first track, “Ultralight Beam,” is about the prominent connection Kanye feels with the Lord and how he seeks absolution often. The next tracks take a drastic turn, with “Father Stretch My Hands Pt.1 & Pt.2” recalling a one-night stand with a girl and the aftermath that follows, leaving him perplexed and unsure about his own situation. Kanye finds more melody on the next track, “Famous,” while poking further at the Taylor Swift issue. He goes on about his sexual escapades and how they came about from his fame. The next track, “Feedback,” becomes much more high-frequency, while he discusses the toll of what he calls “being a genius” in the music game. The outro to the track becomes especially eerie and hard to listen due to the screeches on the track. The songs “Highlights” and “Freestyle 4” are both centered about Kanye’s sexual want, starting out romantic but then turning into something animal in nature.
The B-side of this album follows the same ideas, and still focuses on relationships with different people. The B-side also contains my two favorite songs on the entire album. “Wolves” is a haunting song that moves slowly to a pulse-like beat. Kanye’s voice is distorted over the track to give it a more removed, alien-like feel. He raps over it in very short verses, contemplating how his own mother would feel if she were to see him the way he is. The second one is “No More Parties in L.A.” on this track, Kanye tries to remove himself from the other elites in the higher class. This very funky beat is accompanied by Kendrick Lamar. The two rap at each in a sort of dialogue, both discussing their frustrations with the artificial nature that their own art has put them into.
Over all, I think that The Life of Pablo has an interesting mixture of sounds that are both old and new for Kanye. The back and forth from very noisy to very gospel-like songs on this album makes it sporadic and even more entertaining to listeners. This seventh release for Kanye is definitely worth a listen, especially for those who have followed his work from the days of The College Dropout and enjoy seeing the evolution in his demeanor, personality, and his own art.
IMAGE TAKEN from www.huffingtonpost.com
IMAGE TAKEN from www.theverge.com