The fact that Kanye West originally stated that his latest album, The Life of Pablo, would only ever be streamable via release on Tidal was a controversial talking point enough. However, after inevitably reneging on his initial claim, I’ve been thoroughly enjoying having TLOP at my disposal.
Simply because Yeezy creates so much hype-injected discussion, I thought I’d break the album up into five integral talking points instead of merely writing a full-length review.
1) Father Stretch My Hands Pt. 1 & 2
The mixing of deftly interwoven samples, cutting-edge electronic effects and the boldest rap drum beats is showcased so expertly in these two pieces. Designed to co-operate harmoniously and drip-feed through from one to the other, these two tracks are old school Kanye with a dash of his usual arrogant self. The underlying bass is smooth, and the different snippets of voices and other songs add a cool, inherently hip-hop element.
2) Snapshots of the Original Mr. West
The past few years have apprehensively welcomed the egotistical Yeezy – and even Yeezus. Embracing a transcendent, omnipotent alias must have seemed the next logical step for Kanye, yet I was always a fan of the (ugh!) Mr. West era pushed forward in Late Registration and Graduation. For this reason, I was chuffed to hear Kanye going back to his roots somewhat in Famous. Not only is he referred to as Mr. West, he’s assisted by Rihanna and Swizz Beats, both of whom have collaborated with him on many a track previously.
3) References to Various Current Themes
Renowned for his cheeky in-verse digs – especially in Famous, Feedback and Highlights – Kanye doesn’t fail to deliver a lyrical punch. Claiming that he’s at the helm of irritating country-girl-turned-replaceable-popstar Taylor Swift’s fame is pretty fun, if not unfairly belittling, perhaps. His heckling of Rob Kardashian and Ray J might be subtle, but you’re accustomed to expecting it, especially as he later compares his family (the Kardashians) to the Jacksons. Not quite the same, but yeah. Typical Kanye.
4) Real Friends
Finally, one of my favourite beats is back. I was obsessed with this when it first hit Soundcloud, but in the wake of his album teasing, he removed this and No More Parties in LA. So annoying. This track is a ripper; there’s a relatable wistful vibe to it, which Kanye nails. The hook is repetitive but ridiculously catchy, and so it’s just a real belter.
5) 30 Hours
Another sheer classic in the making. When the beat bursts in, it’s chill-making. The soft drums collide with Kanye’s bombastic vocals and unique delivery. It all meshes so well, and has all of the plus points of Real Friends for me. It’s also great evidence that he might be slightly maniacal, but rap is what he does. And he does it well.