Fifty Eight Minutes and Two Seconds with Kanye West
Artist: Kanye West
Album: The Life Of Pablo
Genre: Rap, Hip-Hop
Recommended if you like: Jay-Z, Travi$ Scott, Kendrick Lamar, J.Cole
He is supposedly $53 Million dollars in debt,
Tidal is an unmitigated financial disaster.
And yet, The Life Of Pablo shines through the rubble of his collapsing empire with a ballad of the struggle between the multiple characters, passions, and feelings of Kanye West.
Maintaining the determination to add a personal contribution to the evolving culture of rap/hip-hop, West has once again debuted an album that brings his musical creativity and production techniques to an all new light. The Life Of Pablo is West’s 8th studio album which features 18 songs, with more being released within the next few weeks. Being possibly the first ever Kanye West album that evolves every day to shine light on a new emotion, each song is shown to be strategically placed on the track list to represent individualistic meanings. Appearances from artists such as Ty Dolla $ign, Young Thug, The Weeknd, and Desiigner not only add to the overall hype of the debut of T.L.O.P., but also adds to the new style of hip-hop West is introducing, which only proves his worth as a master producer.
Coming from a background of producing historically memorable and complex beats for multiple different artists (Jay-Z being one in particular), West was able to illuminate his unique interest in production through this new album. In gathering an ensemble of producers (i.e. Rick Rubin, Metro Boomin, Mike Dean, and of course himself), West represented similarities from his 2013 album Yeezus through T.L.O.P. Songs including “No More Parties In LA” and “Low Lights” mirror his previous work in a sense that he collaborates his beat making capabilities with the talents of vocal samples. Along with this, elements of My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy and 808s And Heartbreak can be found throughout many songs with his continued experimentation with autotune and abstract thought. What West has created can quite possibly be attributed to a personal battle within himself and a resemblance of his career trajectory.
T.L.O.P. gives off a familiar Kanye vibe. Many of his tracks are incredibly well produced, layered with introspection, and pull from heavy gospel and themes from albums like Late Registration and Graduation. In doing this, West experiments with newer samples and instruments characterized by today’s trap/electronic beats. However, between his heavy hitters and new style, we are able to find pieces that don’t really fit. T.L.O.P. is somewhat a partially finished image, not in that it isn’t complete, but rather partway through the album, West had a change of heart on who he wanted to be and attempted to plug that new image into an already finished album. Many tracks like “Famous” and “Pt. 2” start with a classic Kanye sound, complete with new experimentations, but seem to end as if halfway through, West got bored with his original piece. We hear songs fade and ultimately dissipate into unfamiliar keys, sounds, and choruses that beg the question of if he intended these to be completely new songs but didn’t have enough time between the demand for the album and the media to explore those ideas.
The Life Of Pablo is not named for Pablo Escobar. It is not named for Pablo Picasso. And, despite West himself saying it is named after St. Paul (Pablo in Spanish), one can argue it’s not that either. Rather, The Life Of Pablo characterizes all of the lives West lives simultaneously as he wanders his visions. “Ultralight Beam” touches on the idea that we are all a single, complex thought of a higher power and that our lives are not our own. With how he lives his life and how he produced this album, his career has been slowly winding into an unfamiliar place we haven’t seen an artist go. West believes he is an artist who sees the world like Picasso, a king who lives it like Escobar, and a prophet who teaches us like St. Paul, and truthfully, there’s no way to prove he’s wrong. Since West first became famous for his pink polo, he has been living his dream and inviting the world to look through his eyes so they may see society as he does.
Whether you agree with him or not, Kanye West has created his own gospel, he has influenced millions to change how they perceive hip-hop and has inspired just as many to follow in his footsteps. With The Life Of Pablo, he allows us to take a dive into the madness that influences his work.
Kanye West isn’t one person. Kanye West is a mosaic of Pablo that forms the image we see. He will forever go down as someone perfectly indescribable and his album reflects this battle we see within himself to find out which character will prevail in the end; which West will be remembered.
“Name one genius that ain’t crazy.”
Written by: Mimi Hibben and David Jarvis
February 19th, 2016