Five years after the release of Kanye’s eclectic opus, the album still stands as one of his best
5 years ago on Valentine’s day, one of the most polarizing figures in music, Kanye West, released his seventh studio album, The Life Of Pablo. This is, in retrospect, Kanye’s most versatile and accessible project.
Despite its release, the album was not totally ready yet. Kanye kept changing and adjusting the album even months after its initial drop. On the original version, the song “Wolves” featured Frank Ocean, and he sang the first verse with his angelic voice. On the new and adjusted version of “Wolves,” we see Kanye sing the first verse while drowning in autotune and the Frank Ocean verse is now its own song, “Frank’s Track.”
The mixing of the album also saw a noticeable change to some tracks, like on the songs “Fade” and “Waves.” The biggest modification of the album came four months later when the track “Saint Pablo” featuring R&B singer Sampha was added to the record.
The Life of Pablo was produced by Kanye himself with the help of other producers, most notably longtime collaborators Rick Rubin and Mike Dean. The project is also loaded with features from some of the most notorious names in music. Key features on the album include artists such as The Weeknd on “FML,” which brings a heartfelt chorus to the track, and Kendrick Lamar who has one of the best verses of the entire album on “No More Parties In LA.”
As usual, Kanye likes to work with artists from a variety of genres other than rap and The Life Of Pablo makes no exception of this, with features from singer-songwriter Bon Iver, Pop artist Sia, and even R&B singer Ty Dolla $ign.
Even after being in the game for more than 15 years, Kanye wasn’t afraid to try new things and sounds when he made The Life Of Pablo. On this album, Kanye shines as a producer by giving something for everyone, as he borrows a slight portion from every one of his records. Whether it be on the Yeezus-influenced and aggressive “Feedback” or on the soulful sampled instrumental on The College Dropout-influenced “No More Parties In LA,” Kanye always tries to pull from his older albums.
The Life Of Pablo is also extremely consistent. Whether it be from the poignant Chance The Rapper verse and choral vocals on the chorus of the powerful opener “Ultralight Beam,” to the goosebump-giving performance of Sampha on the closer “Saint Pablo,” Kanye and his contributors do not seem to miss on this project.
Not only was Kanye in great shape when it came to the production of this album, but he also brought his A-game when it came to his lyrical prowess. Whether he is rapping about his debt problems and his biggest concerns on “Saint Pablo,” or talking about not being sure if he can trust anyone (even doubting friendships with the people closest to him) on “Real Friends,” Kanye always finds a way to be interesting and to keep the listener captivated.
Kanye still manages to retain his signature humour, shown especially on “30 Hours” (“I used the Western Union for you like it’s no prob” / ‘Cause you was in college complainin’ about its no jobs / But you were suckin’ a n***a’s dick the whole time / Well I guess a blowjob’s better than no job”). Ye also is not afraid of a little bit of controversy by throwing shots to people like Taylor Swift on the song “Famous” or Kim Kardashian’s ex, Ray J on “Highlights.”
“No More Parties In LA” is basically a clash of the titans with three of the most acclaimed minds in hip hop: Kanye West, Kendrick Lamar and legendary producer Madlib. This song is a highlight on the record that sees all of them at the top of their game to bless us with one for the history books.
Even five years after its release, The Life Of Pablo is still relevant to this day, and is even more appreciated by fans and critics than when originally released, mostly due to the quality of the record and Kanye’s immaculate etiquette. This album serves as a benchmark in his discography as he proved he had a burning passion and undeniable talent. This album was also the first Kanye album that did not see him revolutionize one sound, and it demonstrates how eclectic he is. This album undoubtedly strengthened his already legendary legacy by adding another classic under his belt, to solidify his place as one of the best to ever do it.