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Kanye West, an ambassador of perfection following a decade-plus of paradigm-shifting artistic conquests, changed everything with an all-access pass to his creative process; an inclusive experience, that like his Yeezy collection, proudly wears its shreds and seams.
Listing the actual events leading up to the release of Kanye West's seventh studio album The Life Of Pablo would play out longer than the opus’ tangible 18-track running stretch; a timeline commencing in the fall of 2013 and extending through the mid-winter of February 2016, hurdling over four separate album-title deviations (So Help Me God, SWISH, Waves and T.L.O.P,) feature modifications (Wherefore art though Paul McCartney, Vic Mensa and Sia?) and theatrical sonic conceptions, passed manic social-media outburst, public prognosticating and scandalous off-topic commentary that shifted Ye's title from slut-shamer (Amber Rose) to rape apologist (Bill Cosby.) But you know what happened. You were there too, invited to partake in the community chaos, scrolling too through Kanye's Twitter timeline where he first declared his seventh solo project a gospel record, and "the album of the life."
You were affably summoned to the most profound listening session in music history, (a far from hyperbolic sentiment) to watch a pixilated, glitchy affair on Tidal, and look on as Kanye unveiled an unfinished version of his album via aux cord at a sold out Madison Square Garden event along with 20 million others, who tuned in worldwide. Some even sat through an entire episode of Saturday Night Live to witness a botched choir-accompanied performance, where after years of mythologizing, Ye finally announced that the album was now streaming on Tidal, marking the long-awaited official release of the opus now campaigned by music's most unsound roll-out.
Through the past few years leading up to T.L.O.P.'s release, Kanye West has purposely eradicated any mysticism surrounding Yeezus – replaced instead by a 38-year-old father of two, and the antithesis of all he had represented on albums prior. While the narrative propelling Kanye's debut album College Dropout is one that exemplifies the resiliency that thrust him to stardom, and My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy romanticized his legend through opulent accompaniments like the glorious Runaway film, Kanye's ambitious mythos reached a fabled peak on Yeezus, which put his ego on display and drew battle cries of blasphemy when Kanye claimed perfection and near godliness. But on his new album, which arrives three years after its predecessor, Kanye offers a sonic testimony, one from a conflicted man who wears his flaws on his $2,630.50 distressed knit shoulder, an oxymoronic apex upheld by a conflicting sonic paradigm. Kanye is a capitalist activist, a penitent sinner with a crude ego and a "38-year-old 8-year-old," who brushes off the illogicality with the singular line "name one genius that ain't crazy" on controversial T.L.O.P album cut 'Feedback.' While there used to be a nothing Kanye could do wrong, it seems as though now there's nothing he can do right, besides the music. Oh, the music.
The Life Of Pablo is an assemblage of hurried and dizzying philosophies, themes and muses, corralling a colourful cast of collaborators like Kelly Price, Frank Ocean, Rihanna, Young Thug, Post Malone, Metro Boomin, Chance The Rapper, Kendrick Lamar and Kirk Franklin to help construct the erratic and undeniably grandiose body of work that encompasses a hybrid of all the best and worst parts of Kanye Omari West - his dreams and nightmares, his ego and his vulnerability, his pop puns and untouchable soul sampling. 'Ultralight Beam,' delivers gleaming gospel like 'Jesus Walks' Kanye, 'Feedback' offers industrial grit like 'New Slaves' Kanye, and the cinematic magnitude of 'Waves' mirrors 'All Of The Lights' Kanye. But rather than taking responsibility for shifting into a new sonic direction like past projects (which are all responsible for changing the landscape of rap in their respected times,) Ye maintains what’s currently popular, prevailing in the present, rather than questing to manipulate the future for anyone but he and his family. Musical accolades are just an after-thought when you're looking to show off your fashion line and run for president. And it shows. Yet, for the first time, Ye doesn't seem to mind. His structured nucleus remains exposed like the holes in his Yeezy 1 collection.
Yeezus is just a man from Chicago. Kanye West is just a father of two. And after seven manic albums attempting to prove his perfection, Kanye is seeking penance on The Life Of Pablo. Here, he delivers 18 heavenly hymns. It's everything else that needs forgiving.
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