Review: The Life of Pablo
by Simone Hunter-Hobson on Friday, February 26th, 2016
Kanye West’s seventh album, “The Life of Pablo,” was released during a live-stream on Jay Z’s Tidal on February 14th. The album is named after Pablo Picasso, to whom Kanye compares himself. As a fan of Kanye West’s past music, I must say that I am disappointed in his newest lyrics, which seem to lack the depth and conviction that launched his career. However, “The Life of Pablo” does contain intriguing beats and seems to give consumers the chance to hear Kanye’s true thoughts.
According to producer Evian Christ, “Kanye wants something that sounds a bit like Otis Redding, a bit like Mobb Deep.” Hints of jazz and raw hip hop are interwoven in some of West’s songs, such as “When I See It,” “Say You Will,” and “Facts,” in which he often uses rhythm and blues influences from certain singers—including Frank Ocean and Caroline Shaw—to linger in the background of his beats.
West also evokes a sense of spiritual depth by calling for God’s presence in some of his songs. For example, in the first song of the album, “Ultralight Beam,” Kanye repeatedly expresses his yearning for the presence of God. Most people appreciated this spiritual expression, because it reminds them of the 2004 track “Jesus Walks,” which became a popular song among people ‘walking’ through difficult paths.
In “Ultralight Beam,” Kanye also refers to the tragedy of Paris in order to connect world issues to his prayer to God. At the end of the track, renowned gospel singer Kirk Franklin gives a benediction to finalize the song with a prayer.
Kanye’s vulnerability is showcased throughout each song in the album. The album becomes Kanye’s own personal journal, where he can chronicle his deepest thoughts without fear. West speaks on the absence of his father, rapping, “Sorry I ain’t called you back/Same problem my father had.” According to West’s mother, his father was not present in his son’s life and often prioritized his job over his family. On February 11th, Kanye tweeted that he “cried writing this” and that he still “loves [his] Dad.” Many people appreciated this song, because Kanye opened up about his life story, a difficult task that most artists fail to execute or steer away from doing.
Another intriguing song on the album is “I Love Kanye.” When one only looks at the title, one would automatically assume that this song quite literally represents Kanye’s vanity. However, the lyrics tell a different story. Kanye starts off the song saying, “I miss the old Kanye, straight from the ‘Go Kanye Chop up the soul Kanye, set on his goals Kanye. I hate the new Kanye, the bad mood Kanye. The always rude Kanye, spaz in the news Kanye.” Unfortunately, I would definitely agree with Kanye’s reflection of himself. Kanye West’s name has truly been in the media headlines for “spaz” behavior, such as his statement “I am the next Nelson Mandela” or his publicized beef with Wiz Khalifa and Amber Rose.
However, I must say that I still respect Kanye, because in this song, he reflects on his wrongdoings and accepts his responsibility to change and be the better person that he aspires to be. This honest reflection takes a lot of courage to publicize and many people do not have the strength to do what he did.
Were Kanye’s old albums, which spoke on real life issues that affected the common man or woman, better than his albums of today? In my opinion, yes. Is Kanye still making ignorant mistakes in the media’s spotlight? Yes. Is he human? Absolutely. So even though Kanye has many flaws, he has finally admitted to them in his newest album: “The Life of Pablo.” Even though he often likes to compare himself to a Godlike figure with the nickname “Yeezus,” I cannot help but respect Kanye in this album, because he is so open and honest to his fans about personal issues that most people would be too fearful to share. This kind of approach is exactly what today’s music needs.
Short URL: http://miltonmeasure.org/?p=7729