by Lizzie Bianchine, Miriam Lubin, and Jess Polin
After numerous name changes, Kanye West has finally decided upon the title The Life of Pablo for his new album, released on February 11. The “Pablo” aspect of the title either refers to drug lord Pablo Escobar or the legendary artist, Pablo Picasso, to whom West has compared himself many times.
The album itself is eclectic in nature, with a mix of accusatory and admitting tones. In his song “Famous” featuring Rihanna he makes an attack on Taylor Swift by saying, “I made that b*tch famous” in reference to the time he cut off Taylor Swift in the middle of her acceptance speech at the 2009 VMAs.
In West’s song “Real Friends,” however, he takes on a different, more apologetic approach. In the hook of the song, West raps “Real friends I guess I get what I deserve, don’t I? Word on the streets is they ain’t heard from him I guess I get what I deserve, don’t I?” Here he takes responsibility for his lost friendships and accepts the consequences.
Whether the songs are accusatory or apologetic, almost every lyric speaks true.
Unlike many popular artists in the present day music industry, West expresses his thoughts on the issues of society, such as in “No More Parties in LA,” where he addresses the superficial lifestyle of Hollywood. Reflecting on society through music is his artistic way of voicing his opinions, and his voice should be praised. With the large audience that West has created, sharing his views is a big risk, but West always does whatever he pleases.
Not only does The Life of Pablo make stark contrast to other songs in the hip hop genre but also it differs from his previous albums. It doesn’t possess the same intensity as Yeezus or even My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy. It has something different to it. It could be the varied nature of the album or the impeccable production. Either way, it works.
West never shies away from artistic liberties, and The Life of Pablo is no exception. In fact, Pablo takes artistic liberties to the extreme. His song “Silver Surfer Intermission” is a recorded phone call between him and fellow recording artist Max B, which, while not musically pleasing, adds a layer of interest to the album.
Most Kanye West fans listen to his music for production value, not lyrics themselves. West challenges this perception in his song “I Love Kanye” which consists of almost stream of consciousness lyricism and little to no production. He raps of the “Old Kanye” and the way people perceive West in the media. It makes for a simple yet powerful perspective and a highlight on the album.
The lack of unity in the album often uplifts it. Whether it’s different styles, phone calls or less-than-one-minute- songs, West produced an authentic and catchy album overall with sound backbeats and genuine lyrics.