Kanye West on being the modern Picasso of music


Kanye West is standing at a threshold that very few musicians ever encounter in their careers, after releasing six critically acclaimed and fan adored albums. This weekend the Chicago MC released his seventh studio album entitled “The Life Pablo (TLOP)” via Tidal and his own website.

It has been nearly three years since Kanye released his last project “Yeezus”, a stripped down, heavy, industrial, and social-politically charged album that was as big of a departure from style as one had ever seen Kanye take on. The anticipation of this project was big, while the final release of the project seemed rushed by Kanye himself. It was clear on the first listen that this project was very premeditated composed in a complete different manner than his previous album.

Sonically and instrumentally, “The Life of Pablo” introduces the listener to a sound scape that is somewhat of a mix between the intensity of the loud, chaotic, and driving  “Yeezus” instrumentals with a neo-gospel element that is reminiscent to Kanye’s “My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy (MBDTF)”. The spiritual metamorphosis of West’s production style, shines through on songs like “Ultralight Beams” which he premiered live on SNL last weekend, “Father Stretch My Hands Pt.1”, “Waves” and “Low Lights” where the instrumentals are composed with the accompaniment of a church choir, string bass, and organ or keyboard on occasion.

West is by no means the only person credited with the production of “TLOP” and in typical Kanye fashion; he enlisted some of the best producers around the music world, such as Rick Rubin, Metro Boomin, Cashmere Cat, Madlib, and Boi-1da,  while composing the 18-track album.

Lyrically, “TLOP” revolves around the challenges Kanye West has encountered such as marrying one the most infamous women in the world, becoming a father to not one but two children, and carrying his business ventures into the world of fashion. The verses are braggadocious, opulent, hilarious, and witty.

On tracks like “Highlights”, “Famous”, “Facts” and “30 Hours” Kanye reconfirms his ability to flow with any of the best rappers in the world today. On “No More Parties in LA” featuring Kendrick Lamar, West keeps up with the Compton MC and in many ways shines through on the track that lasts over six minutes. The feature list on “The Life of Pablo” is another strong point, and again in typical West fashion some of the best and most talented musicians and rappers were incorporated throughout nearly every track of the album.

The Weeknd, Chance the Rapper, Frank Ocean, Kid Cudi, Ty Dolla Sign, Chris Brown, and Rihanna all appear and seem to be perfectly composed into the songs architecture and instrumentals.

“The Life of Pablo”, acts as Kanye’s declaration of independence from the system that he felt he was being abused by in his previous album. It provides the listener with a completely fresh, dynamic, spiritual, yet enjoyable sonic landscape that is reminiscent of his last two albums, coupled with the witty vocal barbs and catchiness that we have all grown to expect and love from West.

Although some listeners will find some of Kanye’s lines to be misogynistic, politically charged, or arrogant, the absolute intensity and gorgeousness of the instrumentals and performances composed by West are overall what shines through on “The Life of Pablo”.

Junior Aubrey Rubin, visual arts major, compares “TLOP” to other Kanye West releases.

“It was not a let down, which means quite a lot with Kanye’s track record,” Rubin said.

The official iTunes release of “The Life of Pablo” is not scheduled for another month, leaving plenty of time for West to further tinker with tracks as he so memorably did over the past month on social media.

As it stands right now, “The Life of Pablo” serves as nothing but a continuation of Kanye West’s creative domination on this era of hip-hop, and a testament of West’s triumphs over the cultural, sociopolitical, and personal barriers that he faces as a rapper, designer, father, and friend.