Contrary to popular belief God did not rest on the 7th Day, he created Kanye. And my, did he take his time with his creation. Years ago, the hip hop deity that is Kanye Omari West didn’t simply waltz into our lives like a mere mortal, he exploded onto the scene like a Demon possessed.
Cast away and ostracized from the streets of south-side Chicago, he invaded our airwaves with the sole intention of setting the world alight and infusing it with his Dark Twisted fantasies and melodies.
A decade later he has accomplished exactly that. We now live in Kanye’s world, a sonic Sodom and Gomorrah where misogyny, drugs, vanity and all sorts of sexual escapades are permitted as long as Yeezus gets first dibs. What’s good Taylor Swift?!
Very few artists in music, let alone hip hop, enjoy a religious following from legions of fans from all over the world the way Ye does. His fans (including a mildly famous one named Kim) ensure that everything he touches turns into gold. His Yeezus sneakers sell out within minutes. And he claimed to have made (well, his wife) $1 million per minute on emojis *insert smiley face here*. Not bad for a kid that had to hire a U-Haul truck, pack his few belongings and head off to the Big Apple after the Windy City blew a cold breeze over his musical aspirations.
So if everything that Kanye preaches is accepted as gospel then why was there so much doubt around The Life of Pablo? Well, let’s see .. It could have been that he publicly changed the title of the album multiple times before settling on the very cryptic The Life of Pablo? Or maybe it was the rumours that Kim was the one rubber-stamping the singles that made it to air? I don’t know .. perhaps it was because he gave us Yeezus before that, a contrived body of work that would have been better served and serviced by Travis Scott.
Whatever the reasons, the masses were skeptical that Kanye was going to deliver. Even I had lost faith. So after a barrage of tweets and endless rants the world finally got TLOP via the streaming site TIDAL. And just like that all was good with the world again. With TLOP getting streamed over 250 millions times in the first week, Kanye was once again back not just on the airwaves but in the hearts of the fans who were starved of soulful hip hop amidst the dominating trapping sounds of the ATLiens.
The Life of Pablo kicks off with the goosebumps-inducing Ultralight Beam, a stirring gospel-tinged track that features Kirk Franklin, The Dream, Kelly Price and a limelight-stealing Chance the Rapper.
“You can feel the lyrics, the spirit coming in braille/ Tubman of the underground, come and follow the trail”, purrs Chance.
Ultralight Beam precedes Father Stretch My Hands Part 1, another soul-stirring anthem that sees Ye uniting with his prodigal son Kid Cudi. Kanye levitates on this Metro Boomin-helmed track and somehow quickly switches from seeking to renew his faith in God to talking about models with bleached assholes like only Ye would. Aaaaaah, My Man!
The sampling whiz continues with his magic on tracks such as 30 Hours, No More Parties in LA and Real Friends.
It’s not all plain-sailing for Nori’s pops. He missteps on Feedback and Freestyle 4, tracks that sound like leftovers from Yeezus. The conceited and mildly humorous I Love Kanye contributes a cringe-worthy minute that we could have easily done without.
But just as he is about to lose us our Lord and Savior returns and lifts our spirits on Waves, a memorable and infectious track that features a surprise appearance by one Christopher Brown ( apparently we have Chance the Rapper to thank for this song as he forced it onto the album at the 11th hour. Thanks Chance). The sumptuous beat is accompanied by humming from Kid Cudi .. I swear you’ll never hear humming that good sans your Grandma’s. Together now … Hmmmmmmmm!
Put aside the clumsy roll-out and the various shenanigans and enjoy this album for what it is: a timely replenishment for our malnourished souls. It’s a gourmet meal prepared by a meticulous chef alongside a myriad of contributors. Kanye delivered.
Where MBDTF gave us an insight into his fucked-up mind TLOP inspires and serves as a soundtrack for his atonement. This is a father of two who is trying to reconcile the craziness that is his life. Unlike Cersei Lannister who had to be captured by the Septons before she atoned Kanye walks this path of his own volition.
On his 7th album, Yeezus blessed us … He can rest now. For now.