Despite the never ending build-up ‘Life of Pablo’ was released early this year, 14th February to be exact. Once released it was definitely an album which combined look, feel and vision.
The title ‘Life of Pablo’ was not the first time fans heard about Kanye’s Pablo obsession, as featured in the lyrics of the earlier released track from the album, ‘No More Parties in LA’ where Kanye raps, “I feel like Pablo when I’m workin’ on shoes. I feel like Pablo when I see me on the news.”
So, what is the meaning behind the all of this?
Well, in the season finale of Khloe Kardashian’s Kocktails with Khloe, West delved into the album’s meaning particularly the Pablo influences and he said, “Which Pablo? Pablo Picasso, Pablo Escobar of course, Apostle Paul. [Paul] inspired and was the strongest influencer of Christianity. Pablo Escobar was the biggest mover of product and Pablo Picasso was the biggest mover of art. And that mix between message, art and product is the Life of Pablo.”
The front cover of the album is idiosyncratic with a sense of confusion as seen with the endless black writing of ‘Life of Pablo’ and ‘Which/One’ scrawled in differing fonts over the front cover. Suggestive of the differing Pablo identities that inspired West in creating the album, as mentioned in Kocktails with Khloe.
But the album isn’t just all about Kanye it features some pretty epic talent from artists including the likes of, Rihanna, Chris Brown, Ty Dolla Sign, Chance the Rapper, Vic Mensa, Sia and Frank Ocean to name a few.
So now that we know a bit about the background of the album I have decided to pick and review some of my personal favourites:
‘Ultralight Beam’ is probably my personal favourite from the album, the song is just beautiful and so varied taking you to another level. One can only sit in amazement at Chance the Rapper dominating his verse in the song, additionally the production is just perfection and the rich vocals from the choir send shivers up your spine. Seeing this live is now on my bucket list!!
‘Father Stretch My Hands Pt 1’ also features some rich, gospel vocals awakening listeners at the beginning of this song. Honestly, this is one of those songs that makes you feel happy to be alive, so crank this song up if you woke up on the wrong side of the bed or need some energy to get you through the day.
‘Father Stretch My Hands Pt 2’ in my opinion doesn’t have the same oomph that Pt 1 had. This track reminds me of a club remix type hit, much faster and features a sample from Desiigner’s ‘Panda’. I was honestly waiting for a new verse in addition to the plain sample of ‘Panda’ to take the track to that next level.
‘Famous’ is iconic for that infamous Taylor Swift line, “I feel like me and Taylor might still have sex.’ Rihanna’s untamed, raw vocals let loose at the start of the song. Her lyrics may intentionally reminisce her 2006 ‘Girl Like Me’ album, as she sings, ‘I can understand how it might be, kinda hard, to love a girl like me’. The end of the song fuses a sample of Nina Simone’s memorable vocals from ‘Do What You Gotta Do‘, making the song last well beyond its finish.
‘Fade’ features samples from Larry Heard’s ‘Mystery Love’ and a flip of Rare Earth’s ‘I Know I’m Losing You’. Ty Dolla Sign and Post Malone also make guest features on the track which has a catwalk type bounce to it. Also THAT accompanying music video with Teyana Taylor…. words cannot even.
‘Feedback’ feels like old school Kanye but a renewed version. This song is filled with ego as Kanye boldly raps,’wake up nigga, wake up, we ’bout to get the paper,’ but then again what Yeezy song isn’t.
‘Wolves’ is also another one of my favourites and is mainly about Kim Kardashian as Kanye raps, ‘I know it’s corny bitches you wish you could unfollow, I know it’s corny niggas you wish you could unswallow’. Featuring vocals from Vic Mensa, Frank Ocean and Australian talent, Sia. Honestly, all three dominate their vocals, with Sia’s animalistic vocals scream the songs title then Mensa and Ocean breathing a somewhat haunting coolness into the song.
‘Waves’ has a majestic production with fluttering synths and steady beat accompanied by Chris Brown’s vocals fitting perfectly, this song makes you feel as if you are sitting on top of the clouds.
Finally, ‘Low Lights’ is a simple yet a beautiful and liberating composition complete with a simple bass, synth and piano chords. This song is the one that takes you back to reality in an album full of intensity.
Take a listen to the full ‘Life of Pablo’ below: