“The Life of Pablo” album is raw and messy, but it represents Kanye West better than any other

Real emotions, experimental tracks, and popular collaborations: this album has it all


Kanye’s seventh album, The Life of Pablo, was released on February 14, 2016

Kadin Lengner, Writer

Kanye West is my top artist of all time. He has a vast discography of 11 albums, each album containing an innovative and new sound. The artist has changed the rap/hip-hop industry in ways that no one else has.

Kanye has also been one of the most controversial artists. He’s constantly in the media being portrayed in many different lights, good and bad. Despite the backlash and harsh criticism he faces, he continues to stay at the forefront of the music industry. 

The Life of Pablo (TLOP) is Kanye’s seventh studio album, released on February 14th, 2016 to critical acclaim. The album came out during a time in his life where he recently became not just a husband, but a father as well. 

When comparing TLOP to Kanye’s other albums, it seems raw and messy. As a listener, I have not heard Kanye rap this raw since his first album. TLOP is his most experimental and emotional album to date. The album features a variety of different sounds showcasing his talent not only in rapping but production.

The album focuses on faith, family, and Kanye’s own role as a cultural icon. We see two widely different sides of him throughout the course of the album, sad and introspective and then braggadocious and cocky.

The opening track Ultralight Beam is a beautiful mix between gospel and soul. The track focuses on Kanye’s faith in God. It’s a slow and inspiring piece of art that gets better as the track progresses. Ultralight Beam is a masterpiece plain and simple.

The next track, Father Stretch My Hands Pt. 1 is one of Kanye’s best and most feel-good songs ever. The song opens with a fantastic build-up to a great hook, though Kanye’s lyricism on this track is lacking in depth. Meanwhile, the featured artist, Kid Cudi is the main attraction throughout the song, stealing the spotlight.

Pt. 2 is the direct continuation of Father Stretch My Hands Pt. 1. Although the track is only two minutes, it gets the job done. The outro of the song showcases the artist searching for his faith. The production on this track is very good, Kanye turns a standard rap sample into his own and then runs with it, creating a pleasing hype-up track.

The next track, Famous, is Kanye being Kanye. His flow is very smooth and clear throughout his two verses. The production on this track is also very good… he uses a sample towards the end that fits perfectly with the rest of the song and amplifies the exciting feeling of the song.

Feedback is one of the most experimental tracks on the album. The track’s sound calls back to that of Yeezus, with loud synths that carry the melody. It is a response to his critics and the people that look down on him, and has one of my favorite Kanye lyrics, “…name one genius that ain’t crazy…”

The next two tracks on the album, Low Lights and Highlights are tied together creating a contrast. Low Lights focuses on faith, hope, freedom, and acceptance as an uncredited artist speaks. Highlights is a celebration of Kanye’s successful career. He reflects on his accolades and promises the fans he’s going to make more “highlights”. 

Freestyle 4 is another very experimental track. In this song, Kanye talks about his drug abuse and being out of control. Throughout the track, you see the point of view of Kanye during a drug-induced episode where his thoughts are out of control. 

I Love Kanye is the ninth track on the album and is a message. The song seems bland and selfish on the surface, but when you dive into the meaning of the track, you slowly realize that Kanye is fighting back against the criticism he has been receiving from old fans and critics.

Waves is an amazing track. The production is impeccable, from the start to the end there is never a dull moment. Chris Brown and Kid Cudi are both featured on this track. Kid Cudi once again steals the spotlight with his almost heavenly hums.

FMl, featuring TheWeeknd, is one of my favorite Kanye songs. The album takes a shift in tone after this song. Here, he is emotional and raw, he sings about his struggles with fame, self-control, and his wife. This track is one of the most emotional Kanye songs ever. 

Real Friends is Kanye at his most vulnerable. The artist is taking an introspective look at his relationships with his family and friends. He is blaming himself for distancing himself from everyone, his rockstar lifestyle finally caught up with him.

Wolves and Frank’s Track explore Kanye’s feelings of fear, hope, and love. Kanye wants to protect his family but the “wolves”, people out to get him and his family, keep intruding. This is a top-five track on the album. Frank’s Track is an addition to Wolves and features Frank Ocean singing over a piano instrumental.

30 Hours is a track in which Kanye reflects on a past relationship. The beat is one of my favorites on the album.

No More Parties In LA is my favorite song of all time. This song is the best track on the entire album. This is the best production on the album, the beats are perfect, the flow is perfect, the lyrics are perfect, there isn’t a single problem with the song. Kanye raps to the best of his ability which is insane, not to mention the feature on this track where Kendrick Lamar spits his verse perfectly.

Facts (Charlie Heat Version) focuses on Kanye celebrating his Yeezy success with Adidas while he disses Nike. While Kanye is rapping you can hear the anger in his tone. He feels mistreated and misunderstood by Nike which fuels his anger. This is a great track with an amazing outro.  

Although Fade is my least favorite track on the album, the song is still good. It focuses on a fading love while maintaining a club-like dancing vibe, and features Post Malone and Ty Dolla Sign.

Saint Pablo is my second favorite Kanye song of all time. This track is the best outro Kanye has ever made. He reveals his deepest thoughts and feelings throughout the track. This is another masterpiece in Kanye’s massive discography.

TLOP is a masterpiece and for good reason. Kanye didn’t try to prove anything on the album instead he made the album that he wanted to make… In doing this, he unknowingly made a beautiful artistic album that represents him as a person.