The Life of Pablo: A Musical Smorgasbord


Photo Courtesy of The Verge.

“I know I confuse you guys sometimes but please bare with me,” tweeted Kanye West on Feb. 15. His new album, The Life of Pablo, is no different. It’s confusing. Bizarre tweeting sprees and public lash-outs are Kanye’s specialty. One minute he’s praising God, and the next he’s rapping about sleeping with models. West gave us a heads up that this album would be a gospel album, but I don’t think his definition of gospel and the world’s definition are the same thing….

Pablo has a strong start, praising God. Opening track, “Ultralight Beam” features Kanye himself singing, “We on an ultralight beam, this is a God dream, this is everything” with the help of backup vocals from a powerful gospel group, who make several other features on the album in quirky, sometimes unfitting ways. Track 2: “Father Stretch My Hands, Pt. 1” follows suit with a gospel intro as Kanye raps about the need to feel liberated through self assurance. A common theme throughout the album.  

If you’re a fan of old Kanye, you’ll like a select few off of Pablo, including the uplifting “Waves” featuring R&B veteran Chris Brown on the chorus, and the chill vibe of “30 Hours.” If you’re a fan of the newer side of Kanye (circa 2013’s Yeezus) you’ll like the electric “Feedback,” and the melancholy “Wolves.”  

Some songs follow suit with the classic rap style we’re used to while others are slightly out of context. “Low Lights” features a woman talking about her life through her faith backed by piano chords and random hip-hop beats. “No matter what you’ve been through or where you’ve been, he’s always there, with his arms open wide, accepting me for who I am and I love him so much, I couldn’t do it without him. I wouldn’t want to,” says the uncredited voice on the track. West said he added “Low Lights” onto the album “thinking about all the moms driving their kids to school then going to work….” “Silver Surfer Intermission” is another unexplainable part of Pablo. It’s a conversation between Max B and fellow rapper French Montana. Max B tells Kanye he respects what he’s doing and sends his love. Not exactly a song you’re going to hear people rapping to at the club….

There’s no doubt West thrives off of being a complex character in the music world, but Pablo could be one of his most experimental albums to date. He mixes his old school rapping style with heavily produced hip-hop/rap/electronic beats that we’ve never heard before (listen to the last minute of “FML” featuring The Weeknd and the beginning of “Highlights”). West’s braggy verses like “Gave LeBron a billi’ not to run away, 10 thousand dollar fur for Nori, I just copped it” and offensive puns like “I feel like me and Taylor might still have sex, Why? I made that b***h famous” make you love to hate him all over again.

Although the message of Pablo is slightly bewildering, I was still able to find the Kanye I used to rap on my drive to high school every morning back in the day on songs like, “Fade,” “Famous,” and “Real Friends.” Also, shoutout to my friend Stephen for talking about Kanye with me for about a full week after this release.


4 out of 5 dolphins