West brings brilliance with ‘The Life of Pablo’


Well folks, the day has finally come. Yeezy Season is once again upon us, and I sure hope you were prepared for what came with its arrival. Say what you will about Kanye West the person, but there is no way to deny the fact that West the musician is something truly remarkable. He has seven albums, and all seven have pushed the limits of the hip-hop genre while giving us some of its biggest songs of the past dozen years. Even his album “808’s and Heartbreaks,” which was only mildly received upon its release, has gone on to be a massive influence on some of pop’s largest names, including The Weeknd and Frank Ocean. There is no denying that West is the largest, most influential name in hip-hop today. This past week, West released his latest album to the world, “The Life of Pablo,” and it is nothing short of a masterpiece.

On “Pablo,” West is in top form, as evident in the opening track of the album, “Ultralight Beam.” Beam, which samples a four-year -old impersonating a pastor and features Chance the Rapper, The Dream, and Kelly Price, is a five-minute homily in which we are taken to church and cleansed of our sins through the magical track. Heightened by a full choir, West proclaims “We on an ultralight beam, this is a God dream, this is everything” before handing the mic to Chance the Rapper, who delivers the greatest verse he’s written to date. The passion and flow that pump through Chance’s veins as he rhymes about everything from his baby daughter, to the devil, to his upcoming third mixtape. We get to see two of Chicago’s greatest musicians collaborate, and one can only hope that this is not the only time it happens. “Ultralight” is far and away the highlight of the album, which is a tall task for an album that is as phenomenal as this one.

Throughout “Pablo,” we get to see both extremes of West: his massive ego that divides listeners into those who love him and those who hate him, as well as his introspective thinking and faith in God. That ego pops out especially in “Famous,” in which he makes a crude comment about Taylor Swift, while also saying that all of his exes are sad because they are not famous. It also is apparent in “Highlights,” when West says that he and the Kardashians are the new Jacksons. With these bold comments, West has time to even poke fun at himself about the comments that make him so polarized by music listeners. In “I Love Kanye,” he raps about nothing but himself for almost a minute, saying “What if Kanye made a song about Kanye… man that would be so Kanye… And I love you like Kanye loves Kanye.” It is a brilliantly created satire on all of those who think he is completely self-centered and narcissistic.

Contrasting this ego, West also gets very introspective throughout “Pablo.” A consistent theme in his music since her death in 2007, West once again mentions his mother Donda West in the spectacular “Waves,” and as in previous songs, his hurt resonates with the listener in a way most musicians could only imagine achieving. The other song that stands out, as West pours out all of his emotions, is on “Father Stretch My Hands pt. 2.” In a single verse, he talks about not having time to call his wife, which is why his parents got divorced. It then gets into his father leaving when Kanye was three, and once more brings up his mother’s death. For any person to bare their soul in such a manner is impressive, but when that person is one of the largest names in music, it is astonishing in the way that West puts his feelings out so openly.

After listening to the album six times in a single day, I can say with confidence that it is worth your time. In pure Kanye West fashion, he created an album that may just end up being the best of 2016. Incorporating parts of his style from each of his drastically different previous albums, “Pablo” is a culmination of three years of creative genius being poured out in the studio. As this article was being written, it was announced that he is still re-mastering parts of the album and that it is not officially done, which is something only Kanye West could get away with. In “Feedback,” West asks us to “Name one genius who isn’t crazy?” And while I can’t confirm that Kanye is sane, I can say with confidence that he is a genius – one of the greatest musicians of our generation, and possibly ever.

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