One man’s trash is another man’s album of the year. The Life of Pablo shows that Kanye West can make a barnstormer out of whatever project files he has on his laptop at any given moment. Pablo feels like an posthumous collection of the remaining demos from a dead artist and at some points in 2016, it didn’t seem like Kanye was far from becoming one. Despite a very public 5150ing this winter, the consistently erratic West was still a workhorse - productive and prolific - as he produced one of the most fascinating and seemingly never ending album campaigns of all time as well as some fantastic guest spots (Schoolboy Q’s That Part) and the jaw dropping floating spectacle of his Saint Pablo tour.
At the center of Kanye’s chaotic 2016 lies The Life Of Pablo. Reminiscent to the mentally ill truncated brilliance of Daniel Johnston’s Hi How Are You, Kanye’s unfinished album is better than most of his peer’s discographies combined. The first hip-hop artist to have an orange period, Kanye loads the album with Yeezus reminiscent brute minimalism (Freestyle 4, FML), a Chi-town Gospel opus featuring the best verse Chance The Rapper will ever record (Ultralight Beam), left field samples (30 Hours ad-lib spree over Arthur Russel’s 1986 Answers Me), and a based flow that is incredibly preoccupied with scat and celebrity. Still Kanye knows the difference between “I want to be liberated” and “I just wanna feel liberated” and this honest declaration is ever present in the beautiful mess that is the Life of Pablo.
Words: Nick Boyd