Album Review

The Life of Pablo

The Life of Pablo

by Kanye West

GOOD Music / Def Jam Records
7 / 10
8 March 2016

Reviewed by Kaupapa Taurima

From the stadium-sized listening party, to its stilted, Tidal-only release, the shambolic circumstances surrounding Kanye West's seventh studio album The Life of Pablo will not be rivalled by any other record this year. Yet, despite all the drama, The Life of Pablo is still a compelling addition to Kanye’s impressive back catalogue.

One of Kanye’s supreme talents is creating environments in which fellow musicians can flourish. Nowhere is this skill more evident on The Life of Pablo than on the stand-out track ‘Ultralight Beams’, where Chance The Rapper shines with an assured sense of urgency.

Never before has it been so hard to pin down Kanye’s vision for an album. The lyrical themes flip from religious redemption to debauchery multiple times throughout, and the musical style is a messy patchwork of Kanye’s previous work and gospel music.

This whole album and the associated release debacle feels like a late tipping point in Kanye’s career. After multiple listens you begin to realise that the music is imbued with desperate, scrambling feelings of hope; hope in the promise of faith, hope for redemption and hope for a happy future with his family.

Ultimately, this scramble for meaning does not convert into a smooth flowing album, meaning this iteration of The Life of Pablo falls short of the heights reached by Yeezus or My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy. But even with Pablo’s stop-start nature, songs like ‘FML’, ‘Wolves’ and ‘Ultralight Beams’ will keep Kanye fans sated until the next step in his increasingly erratic creative journey.

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