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Since downloading the free 30-day Tidal trial, a new music service that holds the exclusive rights to Kanye West’s new album, “The Life of Pablo,” the album has been on repeat both in the journalism room and in our headphones. This highly anticipated album didn’t let either of us down. From the perfect lineup of featured artists and beats to the complex story that West tells, he manages to successfully compare himself to both Pablo Escobar and Pablo Picasso – something only Kanye could do.
Like most hip hop albums we vibe to, “The Life of Pablo” gets better every time we listen. Each song is original, from the concepts to the fine-tuning of each beat, and even after ten plus listens, we have managed to pick up on new things every time.
Lots of rappers today have the problem of uniqueness: from their sound, down to their lyrics. Someone like Travis Scott has song after song that yes, are hits, but aren’t unique and different. Kanye delivers exactly what rappers like Scott can’t – and on each and every track.
This project captures Kanye’s creative energy more than any of his past albums. Each song is complicated, but in a beautiful way that makes it a true piece of art. One second he’s going in at one hundred miles per hour over a fast-paced beat, and the next second he’s preaching gospel with auto tuned singing. He lays out complex bars that leave listeners wanting more. But right when you think you understand the vibe of the album, the next song changes completely, from range of fast-paced to slow-paced beats to the sporadic verses about Pablo Escobar. The album is a never-boring listen.
The title of the album was not decided until close to its release date. Kanye tweeted out four different album titles and tracklists before landing on “The Life of Pablo.” This created hype throughout the twittersphere for months. When Kanye tweeted that the name of the album was “Waves,” rapper Wiz Khalifa tweeted back at him, saying that this name was a knock-off of legendary rapper Max B’s “Waves” theme.
Kanye then went on one of his famous Twitter rants, and after the release of the album, it was confirmed that Kanye had Max B’s support. On track 14 “Silver Surfer Interlude,” Max B gives Kanye respect and tells him he’s “wavy.” Your move, Wiz Khalifa.
This album is filled with ups and downs, but for us, mostly ups. Here’s a few of our favorite tracks off the album.
Track 2- Father Stretch My Hands Pt.1 & Track 3-Pt. 2
After the slower, gospel feel of track 1 “Ultralight Beams,” where Chance the Rapper dominates Kanye verse-wise, Kanye starts to go in, diving head-first into the rest of the album. After a bit of a slow intro, Kid Cudi begins the uplifting hook, describing waking up on a beautiful morning, over DJ Metro’s production. He speaks of freedom with the lyrics, “I just wanna feel liberated,” also relating to the theme of Pablo Escobar. After this, he delves deeper in, speeding up the tempo for the first half of the track with pt. 2. He continues talk of liberation, this time with the same lyric as before, yet sped up twice as fast. He talks about having women in other cities and loads of cash – setting up the feel of Kanye being the new age Pablo Escobar.
Track 4- Famous ft. Rihanna
This may be the most talked about track on the album. Not because Rihanna adds a perfectly timed feature, but because of the line: “I feel like me and Taylor still might have sex. Why? I made that b**** famous!”
Yes, this is pretty edgy and offensive, but this is the epitome of Kanye. After all, as he says later in the song:
“Name one genius that ain’t crazy!”
But this song isn’t all about calling Taylor Swift out. Perhaps the best aspect of this song is the way it’s structured, starting off slow with Rihanna’s singing, then switching to Kanye rapping over a pretty hard beat. Back and forth the two go until the beat Kanye was rapping over, as well as Rihanna’s singing of “loving you better than your own kin,” intertwine. At the end of the song track comes full circle.
Track 11- FML ft. The Weeknd
Yet again, Kanye comes in with the perfect feature for this song. It starts slow, with a depressing sort of feel, hence the song title. This song is somewhat reminiscent of “Blame Game” off Kanye’s “My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy” which came out six years ago. When the Weeknd comes in, chills will run down your spine.
“FML” ends with an eerie message from a crackly voice: “see through the veil and throw them, throw them away.” This voice repeats while The Weeknd sings about “them not wanting me to love you and that I only want to love you.”
This track had a darker feel to it, but was a solid change of pace. Although most songs prior were all different and unique, this one really took the mostly uplifting feel, and turned it upside down.
Track 12- Real Friends ft. Ty Dolla $ign
This is arguably the best song on the album. The message of this song deals with who your real friends are compared to fake friends who aren’t there for you – something we can all relate to. Again, Kanye adds the perfect feature with Ty Dolla $ign singing the hook. This one was released early on Soundcloud before the album dropped. Regardless, it hasn’t gotten old. If you’re going to listen to one track off the album, make it this one.
The randomness of songs and beats might throw some fans off, but give this album a chance. True lovers of hip hop will rejoice upon first listen, while others may take time to love the album. Regardless, this is one of the best albums of 2016 yet, and it’s worth a listen, even though you can only listen if you download a free 30 day trial of Tidal, or purchase a subscription