Review: Kanye West – The Life of Pablo

Kanye West’s The Life of Pablo is an odd but pleasant album.

Katie Fenton, Online Reporter

Kanye West’s The Life Of Pablo, previously known as So Help Me God, SWISH and Waves, is an 18-track spiritual journey.

Twitter outbursts aside, Kanye is obviously a musical mastermind. Listening to The Life of Pablo is a refreshing break from hearing about his newest fashion line, most controversial for including a $120 white t-shirt.

The album starts with Ultralight Beam, a downbeat track that features Kanye’s lyrics along with the background vocals of a women’s choir and artist Chance The Rapper. The song’s dark and moody but beautiful; it serves as an appropriate introduction for what’s to come.

The next track, Father Stretch My Hands Pt. 1, begins with a soulful, jazzy bassline. It transforms into a basic rap beat with Future and Kid Cudi accompanying the feel-good rhythm. Kanye’s autotuned voice breaks out into the only verse, making it a short but pleasant song.

Pt. 2 comes straight off a “fire” trap mixtape with a heavy kick and snare beat and random, incoherent words alongside rapper Desiigner. The track, while boasting a solid beat, is best defined as garbage.

Famous is one of the best songs on The Life of Pablo. Rihanna opens with her famous smooth voice, leading into another basic rap beat that sounds like it came from Jay Z’s studio. The song has a decent tempo and great delivery from Kanye. Halfway through, Sister Nancy’s song Bam Bam is mixed with Swizz Beatz asking “How you feeling?” repeatedly. Warning: this track induces a lot of head nodding.

Feedback is rightfully named, as the main audio sounds like the high-pitched feedback from an amplifier. It becomes a distorted, beautiful mess with amusing lyrics such as the outro’s “I’m the ghetto Oprah! You know what that mean? You get a fur! You get a jet!” and more. The only downside to this track is that it’s too short.

The seventh track, Highlights, has an extremely catchy beat paired with beautiful piano chords and a collaboration with Young Thug. Play this song at any dance party for a great time.

As a brief intermission, I Love Kanye is a hilarious spoken bit in which Kanye talks about himself in third person. Lyrics include “I hate the new Kanye, the bad mood Kanye, the always rude Kanye, spaz in the news Kanye.”

Another favorite is FML, a sullen yet gorgeous track that’s best listened to in the dark to set the mood. Kanye’s first verse is followed by The Weeknd, whose piercing and lovely voice fits the song perfectly. The outro is beyond strange with a creepy robot-like voice paired with Kanye’s ultra-high singing and a deep bassline.

Real Friends is an easy-to-listen-to duet with Ty Dolla $ign and a mellow beat that’s best suited for a relaxing Friday night.

The vocals to Wolves are nearly identical to those in the outro of Real Friends. The transition makes Wolves even more enjoyable.

Kanye’s autotuned, high-pitched voice pairs well with the deep, grungy bassline. While Wolves definitely may not be everyone’s cup of tea, the experimental sounds and Frank Ocean’s outro make it worthwhile.

For the jazzy neo soul enthusiast, No More Parties in LA features a bass and guitar heavy beat with Kendrick Lamar’s iconic, punchy delivery. The song is the longest on the album and while it gets repetitive, it’s still enjoyable.

The final track, Fade, is somewhat disappointing. The lyrics are weak but the bass is unforgettable and makes for a wonderful dance beat. It’s somewhat reminiscent of Tron-era Daft Punk.

Although most of the songs are pleasing to the ears, there are definitely a few tracks that bombed, including Freestyle 4 and Facts.

The annoying, banshee-sounding strings with Kanye’s horrible lyrics make Freestyle 4 unbearable. Facts’ introduction sounds old-school cool and promising, that is until Kanye opens his mouth. The repeated “Yeezy, Yeezy, Yeezy” is laughable; the listener almost feels bad for Kanye as if he doesn’t know how to pronounce his own name.

Listening to The Life of Pablo for the first time can be a confusing experience as it’s hard to detach Kanye’s egotistical image from his music, but after a second attempt, it’s easier to appreciate the songs for what they really are.

The only real downside to this album is that it’s currently exclusive to TIDAL, the subscription streaming service owned by Jay Z. Free 30-day trials, are available but otherwise a monthly subscription costs $9.99. Student discounts  50 percent off are an option.

The Life of Pablo is a puzzling but charming album; it’s not Kanye’s best work and probably won’t be hitting the radio airwaves anytime soon, but for a free trial it’s absolutely worth listening to.

3 Star Rating

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Review: Kanye West – The Life of Pablo

by Katie Fenton time to read: 3 min