The Life of Pablo is uneven, sporadic, and totally erratic; an unfinished version of a potentially great album. There’s heaps of enjoyment to be had with its outlandish humour and unpredictable instrumental turns, but it comes with an equal amount of frustration. At its worst, TLoP is one of the most obnoxious records I’ve ever listened to. The lyrical content ranges from witty and delightfully brash, to cheap and wholly abhorrent, while some of the instrumentals simply don’t seem finished.
Kanye West has essentially attempted to sell his undeveloped ideas as substantial concepts, resulting in a complete lack of cohesion. Tracks are often compelling at first, only to then erratically detour onto something else. Though they’re not necessarily the finest cuts here, the great thing about “Feedback”, “Freestyle 4”, and “Facts” is that they allow you to simply listen to and enjoy Kanye’s excellent delivery without needing to pay much attention to the lesser lyrical lines.
The best tracks are those that actually offer self-examinations of his humanity, such as “Real Friends” and “No More Parties in LA”, and those that display Kanye’s lunacy just enough to sound delightfully eccentric. It’s unfortunately the other side of his unpredictable narcissism that prevents TLoP from being a complete and satisfying album. For every “Real Friends”, there’s a “Waves”; for every “Feedback”, there’s a “30 Hours”; for every short piece of sweet spontaneity, there’s an unnecessary skit of insufferable nonsense.
Perhaps I’m missing the point, and maybe I’m taking it too seriously, but in my mind TLoP is just a heap of hype that leisurely rides the persona of Kanye West to the very maximum. It probably succeeds as entertainment — I’m just yet to be convinced that it’s genuinely a good record. Despite its enjoyable moments, of which there is a sizable amount, TLoP stands as Kanye’s most disappointing, laziest effort yet.
6 out of 10
I love the good Kanye, few marbles loose Kanye
I love the self-aware unhinged and in the groove Kanye
There’s also bad Kanye, the marbles lost Kanye
Vibes in ultralight with no real warmth Kanye
Uncaged the cray Kanye, light walkway dreams Kanye
Tsunami Silver Surfer in the flesh Kanye
Bleached asshole t-shirt Kanye, might still fuck Tay Kanye
Picasso’s scribbled shapes what they don’t say Kanye
It’s all ok Kanye, we’ll play the game Kanye
I love Pablo like Kanye loves Kanye
30 out of 10
Kanye West’s latest release, The Life of Pablo, leaves subtly at the door, so it seems fitting to review the album in the same way. TLoP is an uneven frankenstein of a tracklist. Genuinely catchy, thought-out tracks sit beside tracks that — I can only hope — are fully invested in Kanye’s own irony and lunacy, which in turn sit beside tracks that feel like draft copies (and based on the rumours, they may well be).
Instrumentation is generally the high point for me, with melodies that range from cinematic in “Freestyle 4” to electro-gospel in the opener, “Ultralight Beam”, while in between, solid EDM and noise timbres prevail. While there wasn’t a beat that especially caught my attention, there was experimentation and variety.
Vocals are, as with the rest of the album, uneven. Guest appearances from Rhianna and Kendrick Lamar sticking out as high points, while shock factor lines involving bleach and Taylor Swift are needless and “Facts”, which revolves entirely around West’s shoe line, feels entirely vapid. In between though, Kanye has injected a genuine humour into a lot of tracks—whether or not that was intentional remains to be seen though.
Finally, managing to be the sore thumb, the highlight and the surprise of the album, “No More Parties In LA”, produced with Madlib feels like a track from the ‘Old Kanye’ to quote mid-album skit “I Love Kanye”. Mix all of the above up, however, and I have to begrudgingly admit: I enjoy it in the majority, I’ll be returning to it.
7 out of 10
Inanimate carbon rod
Just like the bleached arsehole that Kanye is so worried about, the album provides both pain and pleasure at different times and is mainly reliant on the aesthetic, shallow parts of life.