I asked my 64-year-old dad if he liked Kanye West, and he told me, straight up, “No. He’s conceited. Didn’t he release a song with Paul McCartney?”
While the rapper released a trio of songs last year with the renowned Beatle, none of them made the final cut of “The Life of Pablo,” (TLOP) West’s seventh solo album, which has existed in several iterations according to West’s inflammatory Twitter, as “So Help Me God,” “Swish,” and “Waves.”
“TLOP” forces the listener to confront West’s frantic personality, which he brandishes publically through his seemingly unfiltered tweets (contrast that to a highly crafted episode of “Keeping the Kardashians”). “TLOP” functions much like the fake-glitz of reality television, except West is self-aware enough to wink at the camera every now and then (see the hilarious “I Love Kanye” monologue). Not unlike the album, West is a mess of contradictions, and yet he is somehow able to put the pieces together to make a stunningly human and empathetic work of art.
Symbolically, this is through his stylistic soul samples, but it’s also in his ability to throw together an all-star lineup. Chance the Rapper sings the verse he always dreamed of on the glorious “Ultralight Beam,” while Kendrick Lamar squares toe-to-toe with West on the Madlib-produced “No More Parties in LA,” that breezes by in six-minutes.
Kanye has referred to “TLOP” as a gospel album. In wrestling his perpetual nature to fuck-up (“FML”) with his endless search for redemption (“Waves”), it feels like a summation of West’s life to this point, always sinning before asking to be forgiven.