By Alec Matuszak
Kanye West has been in the headlines a lot lately. Often it has been because of a random outburst about how he feels mistreated or misrepresented in some way. West has said he will run for president in 2020, but until then he will have to stick to his role as a rapper. It is good that 2020 is a few years away, because West is on a hot-streak musically, especially with the release of his anticipated album “The Life of Pablo.” Originally released exclusively on his buddy’s Jay Z’s Tidal service on February 14, 2016, the album has since made its way to Apple Music, with a few production changes.
Prior to its release, West described the album as a “gospel album.” While there are certainly gospel elements to it, it is hard to describe this album as completely gospel, especially when West says things like, “I feel like me and Taylor [Swift] might still have sex / Why? / I made that b***h famous.” Semantics aside, this is a fantastic album that has advanced the limits of the sound of hip-hop.
Ever since his single “Jesus Walks” released in 2004, Christianity has played a major role in West’s music, and “The Life of Pablo” is no different. The track “Ultralight Beam” starts off the album. Chance the Rapper is featured on this track, he and Kanye West both give their glory to God and Chance thanks God for his ability to collaborate with West. “I met Kanye West; I’m never going to fail,” Chance raps.
As much as Kanye West brags about himself, he offers an apology
on the next track “Father Stretch My Hands” saying “If I ever instigated I’m sorry / Who in here can relate.” It’s tough to know whether West is being sincere or not. The very next line Kanye West explicitly talks about having sex with a model. Mixed messages aside, the production on this track is fantastic, as most Kanye West albums are. It’s hard to individually pick out the instruments or sounds used because they all blend so nicely. It sounds like a choir hence the gospel theme West mentioned.
After this track the hits keep coming. A remix of the song “Panda” by Desiigner is one of the most hard hitting on the album, but it ends abruptly and fades into a lady singing with some odd vocal effect. What ever it is, it sounds good.
“The Life of Pablo” is a very different album sonically, but the topics West covers are typically the same as his previous work. He raps about his life. He is arrogant on his songs the same way he is arrogant in real life. That’s what seems to work for him. Some rappers can separate the “characters” they create in their music (i.e. Pusha T is not a real cocaine dealer, but raps about dealing). Kanye West cannot seem to do this, probably because it isn’t a character. It’s just him.
If you’re interested in West’s life and thoughts then this album is for you, if you feel repulsed by his arrogance and crudeness, do yourself a favor and play something else.