DAR Hip Hop: Kanye West's The Life of Pablo

By @TrueGodImmortal and @SpeedontheBeat 

(Editor's Note: The album is only available to stream on Tidal. So, unfortunately we can't post it here)

1. Ultralight Beam 
2. Father Stretch My Hands Pt. 1
3. Pt. 2
4. Famous 
5. Feedback
6. Low Lights
7. Highlights 
8. Freestyle 4
9. I Love Kanye 
10. Waves 
11. FML
12. Real Friends 
13. Wolves 
14. Silver Surfer Intermission
15. 30 Hours 
16. No More Parties in LA
17. Facts(Charlie Heat Version)
18. Fade

Well, we've covered every Kanye album that's been released, but after about 3 or 4 days, and multiple listens, we wanted to give an opinion on Kanye's new album and a review essentially. Today, True and Speed look at the album from three perspectives: lyricism, production, and overall as a project. Speed keeps it short and simple, for the most part, while True engages a bit more with the album and enjoys it seemingly more than Speed. Let's get into their reviews and opinion. This is the Life of Pablo.

You're not going to like me for saying this. But, Kanye West's The Life of Pablo is to him what The Blueprint 3 was for Jay Z. Surrounded by out-of-nowhere hype, the album is all over the place, slightly overblown and acts more as a "pass the torch" moment for some of its features--or a "hey, XYZ is BACK!" moment for, say, Kelly Price.

Now, let's make no mistake. The album does have a lot of great points. Is it really as bad as BP3 was? Eh...we'll get into that. True's asked me to highlight them by breaking them up between production and lyricism. So...let's go about it that way.

Kanye and his cohorts stretched far and wide to achieve this album. From Metro Boomin to Kanye himself, the production is decent.

-Lyrically, Kanye seems to be hungry. That's a good thing. However, the end result of that hunger gets kind of muddled.

Now, I may get some groans for this--especially since this takes up most of my review (sorry True)--but the album is elitist and misogynist as hell. It's, in that regard, more MCHG than BP3. I mean, dude! You referred to your wife as a "bitch" and say that her ex and you could've been friends if you weren't rich and didn't marry her and such. The whole Taylor Swift thing was unneeded. The promotion of the album, through controversial statements via Twitter, was kind of corny. I mean, bruh! You don't bring kids into beef, even if you're just sorta trolling to get people in tuned with you and your descent into madness over this album.

For every good point he makes, he makes some sort of B.S.-drenched point about his penis (or something about Bill Cosby). Now, Kanye's always been on some backpack-meets-trap rap (even if his bars haven't full-out been trap). So, him speaking "outlandishly," it's to be expected. However, up until MBDTF, there seemed to be more of a point to it.

Lyrically, aside from some weird-ass songs, he's alright. He's not reaching MBDTF or LR levels. But, production-wise? It's cool. Is it the album that'll change everything? No friggin' way. Is it on overdrive with its elitist and sexist undertones? Oh yeah, even more so than some "non-enlightened" rap productions. But is it a bad album that will get ignored as soon as the buzz dies down? Nah.

It serves its purpose: we get to see newer, younger acts get the rub they may've needed from Big Brother Kanye. We get to hear Kanye rap again. And we get to see the process of making an album played out in public, potentially detailing the effect creating an album really has on an artist (Trust me, it's not all "oh, lemme drop this verse here and run with it"). That's it. It's got some good songs on it, some clunkers,a lot of ambition, and the process was, while corny at times, amazing to watch.

But, it's just alright.

Well, I'm going to obviously share a different viewpoint on this album than Speed, but I will say this: there has to be a balance when discussing anything Kanye. His biggest fans, or stans if you will, will tell you this album is a classic and the greatest thing since MBDTF. Well, that's an expected exaggeration, but the album is as middle of the road as you can. It was promoted as the album of the life, and while I'm not sure what that particular statement means, maybe this was Kanye's dream album coming to life. Kirk Franklin, Kelly Price, Cudi, Andre 3000, and many others make appearances of some sort on this album, and they all work well in the position that he gave them. So, how is the album itself? Let's break it down.

-From the moment I heard about this album, the production was literally the main thing I was worried about after the odd production of Yeezus. This album doesn't disappoint in this regard. The production is top notch overall, but for me the most exciting production comes on "Father Stretch My Hands". There is a beautiful sample to start it off, giving the impression that it would be a soulful beat, one that reminds you of the classic Kanye. Then the lovely placed adlib/signature of "If Young Metro Don't Trust You, I'm Gon Shoot You" leads into a beautiful drop with the amazingly placed hook from Cudi. Production on tracks like "30 Hours", "Waves", "Highlights", "Real Friends", "Ultralight Beam", and "No More Parties in LA" are all flawless and that's what makes this album. The production. The production is the driving force of this album like most Kanye albums.

-Chance The Rapper and Kendrick have the best verses on this album. You can also say Kanye has one of the best verses on the album with his verse on "No More Parties in LA", but there's a lot of lackluster verses from him on this album. He does have some quotes via his verses, but more so for shock value or comedy than actual showcases of great lyricism. If the album suffers in any place, it is within the lyrics. Still, Kanye manages to captivate the listener with some of his verses, it's just that he gets outshined by every guest who raps or even just adds a simple hook (what up 3 Stacks). That is a cold hard truth about this album. Now, overall how does the album play out?

I like this album personally. However, when you listen to it, you can tell Kanye wanted to give you a feel of all his albums combined. For better or worse. Freestyle 4 is reminiscent of a Yeezus style track, No More Parties in LA could be seen as Late Registration or MBDTF or College Dropout, Father Stretch My Hands mixes a Graduation feel with 808s autotuned vocals, every song reminds you of either the Kanye you love or the Kanye you hate. This album is admittedly a safer release than some of his other albums and that's because we've never seen Kanye backed into a corner. Universally, the critics liked Yeezus, but his fans voiced their frustrations on the album for the most part. Kanye talked up this album and built to be a classic, and it doesn't live up to those expectations, but it is a solid listen and mostly a welcome departure from Yeezus.

I said on social media that this album is a 5 or 6 lyrically, and a 9 or 10 production wise, but that was in the moment after my first three listens. Over the last few days, I've found myself listening back to a few songs more than others and skipping a decent amount of the songs on the album. That's not to say some of the songs I skip aren't good, they just aren't as strong as some of the others I keep replaying. If you aren't a big Kanye fan, and want to start with three songs to stream via Tidal (since this album is not available on Spotify or iTunes yet, and according to Kanye, it won't be at all), I would personally have to find out what type of Kanye fan you are. Let's split it up like this:

*College Dropout/Late Registration Era Kanye fans
-30 Hours
-No More Parties in LA
-Real Friends

*Graduation/808s/MBDTF Era Kanye Fans
-Father Stretch My Hands

*Cruel Summer/Yeezus Era Fans
-Freestyle 4

Some of these songs are interchangeable to the eras, but essentially this album has something for everyone, but the entire album might not necessarily be for everyone, if that makes sense. Some will say we need the old Kanye back, others will say the new Kanye is just fine. Kanye attempted to give you an album that pleases everyone in some fashion and that's what he accomplished, but as an overall project, it lacks the luster of a College Dropout, Late Registration, MBDTF, and in some instances, Graduation. Where will this rank in Kanye's discography when it's all said and done? That remains to be seen, but for me TLOP is a step up from 808s and Yeezus (which are two albums of his I didn't personally like), a few notches below Late Registration and College Dropout, a notch below MBDTF and Graduation in some ways (mostly lyrically), but also on par with those albums as well. It won't be remembered as his best, but it's far from his worst. It's a middle of the road album in many ways. From So Help Me God to SWISH to Waves to The Life of Pablo, the 7th solo release from Kanye is simply genius in some aspects, and falls short in others. The brilliance in Kanye is still there..... but maybe the passion isn't.

What do you think about The Life of Pablo? Do you love it? Like it? Hate it? Post your comments below.



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