Photo Courtesy of Tribune News Service – Kanye West performs at the 57th Annual Grammy Awards at Staples Center in Los Angeles on Sunday, Feb. 8, 2015.
‘The Life of Pablo’ by Kanye West
8 out of 10
By Anthony Totri ’16
Ever since the late night release of “The Life of Pablo,” the musical world has been talking nonstop about the album.
Some are calling it the greatest rap album of all time.
The discussion of the new Kanye album started long before it was released Saturday, Feb. 13.
Previous conversation focused on the album title, previously “Waves” and “Swish” before Kanye chose “The Life of Pablo.”
Many aren’t sure why West chose that name, but the actual reason goes deeper than most think, and that’s what makes it great.
Had West pursued his original dream of “fine art,” he would’ve wanted to become “Picasso or greater,” according to Bustle.
One of the early released songs, “No More Parties In L.A.,” mentions the Pablo that is in the album title.
“I feel like Pablo when I’m workin’ on my shoes, I feel like Pablo when I see me on the news, I feel like Pablo when I’m workin’ on my house,” West raps.
The interpretation is that he is rapping about his life; his music is his art. It isn’t shocking that he compares himself to Picasso considering he also recently compared himself to Stephen Curry and Michael Jordan.
West is the Pablo referenced in the album title.
There are a few components other than the name that make this album an amazing one, the first of the pieces being the beats. Not only does each song have an amazing beat that you can’t help get pumped up to, but the album has a variety of beats.
Songs like “Fade” and “Facts” have a more up tempo beat, while there are songs like “FML” and “Wolves” that have a slower and somewhat dark beat to them.
Most albums have a certain feel to them, but as I listened to each song multiple times I wasn’t able to compare the energy of “The Life of Pablo” to any other album. Personally, I liked that the album changed vibes so often, it kept me on my toes.
The second component that makes this album solid are the lyrical masterpieces.
Each song has truth behind the words and that’s what gives them so much power.
One of the more popular songs on the album, “Ultralight Beam,” is more than just a song with a good lyrical flow.
“Ultralight Beam” is about Kanye’s faith in God. Whenever he’s down or feels he can’t fight anymore, he searches for the light and knows he is in God’s hands, everything will be alright, according to Rap Genius.
“Deliver us serenity, Deliver us peace, Deliver us loving, We knew we need it, You know we need it,” he raps.
These lyrics bear resemblance to the Prayer of St. Francis, which originated in Paris.
Faith is very important to West, and he wrote these lyrics with more than a desire for another Grammy. He wrote the lyrics with his soul to express his true self.
The final piece of this album that makes it a success is how well the features were orchestrated.
Some of the amazing features include Chance the Rapper, The Weeknd, The-Dream and others, but West’s magic was shown by Frank Ocean being featured on “Wolves” and Kid Cudi being featured on “Father Stretch My Hands, Pt.1.”
Not only did Kanye manage to find Frank Ocean, who took an unexpected hiatus, but he was able to get Ocean to sing some quality verses that showed that he still has it.
West also was able to revive Kid Cudi after his awful most recent album. Cudi sounded like the old Cudi who was able to gain so much success early on in his career.
This album could be dissected for pages but the few examples showcase Kanye getting back on track after his sixth album “Yeezus” wasn’t Kanye quality.
What keeps this album from being a 10 out of 10 is the fact that it simply doesn’t compete with recent greats such as “To Pimp a Butterfly” and “2014 Forest Hills Drive.”
No artist has been able to keep up with what Kendrick Lamar did with his recent album, and J. Cole is the only rap artist to have an album go platinum without a single feature.
Not only can’t “The Life of Pablo” keep up with modern greats, but Kanye missed the mark on a few songs in this album.
To name a few, “Freestyle 4” and “Silver Surfer Intermission.”
“Freestyle 4” lacks an appeal factor, it is just a boring and frankly weird song.
“Silver Surfer Intermission” is a 56 second clip that has meaning, but without any background knowledge of it the listener is left just listening to a strange conversation between Kanye and Max B.
This album is an 8 out of 10, but it’s not Kanye’s best work, and if it’s not his best then there is no reason it should be considered as one of the best ever.