Life of Pablo is a much awaited album or at least it has been made so by Kanye West, who has called it ‘the best album of all time’. Well, that may or may not be true, what is true, though, is that this bet of being the best puts a lot of pressure on himself as well as on the people he is working with. When such a claim is made, everyone has to deliver their best, at least for the sake of it. On the other hand, it does come with its benefits. It makes people care more and talk more about his work. It creates a buzz that makes people want to see what the fuss is all about. Even if they want to criticize his work, they first have to go see his self-proclaimed greatest album yet.
The album has just now been released to the public for free under the Spotify platform, you can listen here:
So, at the core of everything is that album, which has taken years in the making. Kanye has not released a studio album in the last three years. This one too has gone through a lot of tweaking. The tracks on the album have gone through a lot of changes in the sequencing. Even the name of the album has gone through multiple changes. It was initially called Swift, which was later changed to Waves and then finally to The Life of Pablo.
The album has a total of eighteen songs that were first tweeted by Kanye himself. The list includes Ultra Light Beams, Freestyle 4, Father Stretch My Hands Pt1 Pt2, and Famous among others. Four of his earlier creations have also found a place in the album. Fans will find songs like No More Parties in L.A., Real Friends, Fade and Wave familiar.
Kanye has a lot of friends on the album. There is Kendrick Lamar in No More Parties in L.A., Real Friends features Ty Dolla $ign, who also appears in Fade along with Post Malone. Vic Mensa can be seen in the popular song, Wolves. Chance the Rapper, Kid Cudi, Rihanna, Chris Brown and The Weeknd, among others have also contributed to Kanye West’s latest album.
In an innovative Kanye West style, the album was unveiled on February 11, 2016 in Madison Square Garden, with much fanfare and with 20,000 people in attendance. Different pop singers have different ways in which they make their albums popular. Some of them go on world tours to promote it, while some create an explosion of buzz by dropping their work online, unannounced. However, what Kanye did was risky, or was it? He is the king of creating a buzz, whether it is about himself or his album. This is true for most things today. Anyone and everyone, who can work up curiosity on the internet and capture the imagination of people, sells. That’s about it. Not only did he create a lot of curiosity and managed to generate interest in his album by calling it the best, but also made arrangements to maintain the grand status of it. While Kanye launched Life of Pablo live in New York, it was also simultaneously streamed in theaters across 20 countries, including Australia, Switzerland and Spain. This did give the album a much needed boost, but the actual event itself turned out to be disappointing.
Here is a little back story to understand what happened at the launch. It was not all about music, there was a fashion launch too. All this while, Kanye has also been working on his fashion line and he decided that the launch of his new album was the right time to showcase his fashion line at the Madison Square Garden. Vanessa Beecroft, the famous artist, choreographed the models, which stood the entire time the album was played. Many people think that the over-emphasis on the fashion brand made the music look secondary.
The album indeed sounds a little distracted. At one time, Kanye had claimed that this was a gospel album, but the focus is just not there. The Life of Pablo has some really good tracks and some that are just disappointing. Also, the album feels like a mess at times, where Kanye has dropped his thoughts in between and the fans have to figure out how they fit in the story. These little nuggets are not bad poems; they are good pieces of writing. It felt like the star has tried to put together all the part of its life together, but there is a glue missing to hold them all together. They can just feel a little misplaced at times. It is not as well-structured as the earlier works of Kanye. It can be seen by some as a highly self-absorbed piece of work, touching the boundaries of delusion, and therefore, lacking perspective. This is a fragmented piece of music collection and maybe a little underwhelming to some or may sound like a masterpiece to others. Each to their own.
The critical response to the album has been mixed too. While some of the reviewers thought that it was a delightful piece of work, the others felt that it lacked focus.
After the big ticket launch of the album on February 11 and its release on February 14, all the copies of the album were taken off. Fans were bewildered and it was then that Kanye came up with surprising news. On February 15, he announced that his beloved album will never be on Apple. He told his fans that the songs would only be available on the TIDAL platform. Kanye’s announcement did not end there. He also informed his fans about the 40 new songs with Kendrick and the other 40 with the Young Thud. All of these songs are also going to make their debut on the TIDAL platform as well.