Somewhere in the hedonistic chaos of The Life Of Pablo there lies a record that is pretty good. But, Kanye being Kanye, he couldn’t leave it alone-a problem that consistently stops him from making “the greatest record of all-time.” If you cut TLOP in half, you still wouldn’t have a history-defining album, but a decent follow-up to the much beloved Yeezus.
I wasn’t a huge fan of Yeezus, but I do think both “Black Skinhead” and “New Slaves” are brilliant songs. Nothing on TLOP comes close to those in terms of quality or power. In fact, much of the first half of the record is a throwaway. After starting off strong with “Ultralight Beam,” TLOP zigs and zags between Kanye talking about fornicating with women who bleach their assholes and long sections about devotion to God. It’s an odd mix that doesn’t work as is.
Once we get to “Waves,” however, the record hits a turning point. From that track on, TLOP is pretty good. I really like “30 Hours,” with its tip of the hat to the St Lunatics and Nelly. I think “Real Friends” is a refreshing return to some older West tracks. He gets personal without sounding like an arrogant prick, which is a look that’s eluded him for a while now.
“Wolves” and “No More Parties In LA” are tracks that have been around already, but they fit better in this collection than a lot of the first nine songs. Having Kendrick Lamar on your album almost always makes it better, but it works against Kanye in a way because it showcases Lamar and makes West feel like an afterthought. On his own record.
People are gonna buy this no matter what, so being critical of it (or praising it) doesn’t really matter. Making people wait as he constantly tinkered with the final product would infuriate most artists fans, but only created more anticipation in Kanye believers. I just hope they get their money worth.