By Eli Schoop, Copy Editor
[G.O.O.D. Music; 2016]
Key Tracks: “Ultralight Beam,” “Feedback,” “No More Parties In L.A.”
All the chaos, all the feuding, the self-destruction, the narcissism–it’s all led to this. The Life of Pablo is Kanye West’s eighth studio album, and there’s air of finality to it that’s presumably deliberate. Let’s engage with it on West’s preferred terms. It’s messy, which seems to be his modus operandi at this point, yet so refreshing. One could drown themselves in its absorbency, its involvement with the persona that he has created publicly. This LP is being called his “gospel” album, with good reason. West, the modern Jesus figure, found out he’s not divine.
There’s too much duality in Mr. West’s actions now for him to be considered this mythical figure in music. “Ultra Light Beam” does its best to convince the listener otherwise, though. It’s angelic in stature and towers as an intro, and West lets his Chicagoan partner-in-crime Chance The Rapper take over the hymnal with a monster confessional of a verse.
It’s difficult to escape the prevalence of “bitch” on the record, and West using “women” as a slur rather than a statement is a damning testament to his vindictive misogyny. The lines “I feel like me and Taylor might still have sex / Why? I made that bitch famous,” and “I bet me and Ray J would be friends / If we ain’t love the same bitch,” could be laughable if they weren’t so disgusting.
The Life Of Pablo forces the listener to choose sides–as far as West is concerned, there’s no separating art from artist; either you love Kanye’s music and his attitude about life, or hate what he represents and how he goes about it, talent not withstanding. Fortunately, it’s the album’s fabled proportions that lift up how it can be received. A third option appears in the midst of it all; materializing as the bystander to West’s misdeeds and tribulations, while basking in the glory of the record. The momentous epic “No More Parties In LA” features Kendrick Lamar and West seesawing atop an immense beat wherein the artifice of Kanye West is fully revealed. He is at once the biggest voice in the room and the most hollow.