February 14, 2018

Kanye West - The Life of Pablo (February 14, 2016)





Two years ago today, Kanye West released, after months of fanfare, rumors, and conjecture, The Life of Pablo, his seventh solo album for Def Jam Records. This doesn’t mean the album was ever completed, however: West considered the project to be "a living, breathing, changing, creative expression" and claimed it was a piece of contemporary art on Twitter (hey, if the Wu-Tang Clan can do it...), and he essentially ensured that his label, Def Jam Records, would never recoup their investment in the project by releasing it solely to TIDAL in 2016, and then altering that version multiple times, thereby causing cautious consumers to never bother purchasing the digital download (there never was a physical disc officially released, although other streaming services eventually acquired it, even after 'Ye infamously claimed it would never appear outside of TIDAL). It’s a weird story, one which we’ll skim the surface level of today, but The Life of Pablo definitely deserves some sort of making-of oral history or documentary, so if someone could get on that, I’ll act as a consultant, and I'll also take a producer credit for coming up with the idea, please and thank you.

I'm not kidding. 


Kanye recorded The Life of Pablo over two years with at least ninety-six different producers, musicians, and songwriters, starting work shortly after the release of Yeezus, his critically-acclaimed but poorly-received attempt at changing the hip hop sonic landscape. It was originally announced as So Help Me God, lending credence to the theory that it would be made up of leftover Yeezus tracks (according to Yeezus producer Rick Rubin, there are numerous tracks still unreleased from those sessions): it would later be referred to as SWISH and Waves before ‘Ye finally settled on TheLife of Pablo, which he allegedly came up with three days before the project’s release date. He released several tracks as promotional singles to test the waters: “Wolves” (with Sia and Vic Mensa), Rihanna’s “FourFiveSeconds” (featuring ‘Ye and Paul McCartney) and Yeezy’s own “All Day” (also featuring McCartney). Neither one of the latter songs ever made anyone’s actual album, and McCartney doesn’t appear anywhere on The Life of Pablo: Kanye’s a big enough artist now that he can ask a former Beatle to perform for him on a throwaway track. (For what it’s worth, I liked “All Day” just fine, and some of its lyrics hinted at the return of ‘Ye’s sense of humor.)

Multiple tracklistings and cameo rumors floated around the Interweb in the months prior to The Life of Pablo’s release date. Names such as A$AP Rocky and Future popped up in conversation: neither artist ended up making the final cut. Taking a page from his own past, he announced another G.O.O.D. Fridays series where he would release free tracks in the weeks leading up to the album’s release: however, unlike last time, when he timed this promotion with My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy in 2010 and ended up dropping some of the best songs of his career (and we also found out that half of the album consisted of the free songs, which was a little frustrating), we only received two free tracks before Kanye gave up for unknown reasons: “Real Friends” and “No More Parties in L.A.”, both of which ended up on the album regardless. A demo version of “30 Hours” also made the rounds, but not as an official part of the promotion.

When TheLife of Pablo was finally released as a TIDAL exclusive, critics had some problems with how to classify it. Some named it Kanye’s gospel album, due to the direction a few of the tracks take. Others saw it as a return to form after the Yeezus diversion. Some took offense at West’s comments about Taylor Swift on early standout “Famous”, playing into the rivalry the two allegedly still have to this day. Many were upset that the final version of “Wolves” ended up being an entirely different song than what ‘Ye had previously performed. But most of the conversation began after the project had already been released and the thinkpieces had been drawn up: Kanye West wasn’t entirely satisfied with the final product.

Like the hip hop George Lucas, ‘Ye took The Life of Pablo and tinkered with the tracks, making minor instrumental changes on some, pitching some vocals different, and outright changing the lyrics on others. Tracks were added while original ideas were deleted, if not entire songs. He made an alteration to my favorite track on the project (which I’ll reveal later) that I’m still not thrilled with. He also stretched the album out, tacking on interludes and increasing song lengths. (He had also done something similar with the G.O.O.D. Music compilation Cruel Summer right after it had originally hit iTunes, although the changes were far less drastic.) Treating the album as a living being is an interesting take on recording an album, one that couldn’t have made the suits at Def Jam happy, but with everything ‘Ye does garnering a shitload of publicity, there really wasn’t much they could do about their artist and his whims.

That’s all I’m going to go through here: if you wish to discuss the background of The Life ofPablo more, I’ll join you two in the comments. The topic is fascinating as hell to me. But for now, we’ll pretend Kanye is finished fucking with the album (he’s supposedly working on new projects, including a follow-up compilation, Cruel Winter, whose first single, “Champions”, has already come and gone, so I wouldn’t expect to see that shit on the album) and tackle some good old-fashioned music criticism. Enjoy!

(Editor’s note: to avoid confusion, the version of The Life of Pablo I’m reviewing is the “final” revision released June 14, 2016, four months after its original release and after multiple revisions to the tracks. But that doesn’t mean I won’t reference previous incarnations of some of the songs. You’ve been warned: this write-up is hella long.)

1. ULTRALIGHT BEAM (FEAT. CHANCE THE RAPPER, THE-DREAM, KELLY PRICE, & KIRK FRANKLIN)
This opening track, one of the two reasons why anybody would ever be so obnoxious as to deem The Life of Pablo to be Kanye’s gospel album, is one I quite like, but my positive reception is solely due to ‘Ye’s SNL performance of the track, which gave “Ultralight Beam” the stage show it deserved. Our host’s vocal contributions are limited to singing platitudes and light prayer, leaving all of the rhymes to guest Chance the Rapper, whose verse is literally the only one from him I’ve ever fucking liked (“I made ‘Sunday Candy’, I’m never going to hell / I met Kanye West, I’m never going to fail”, a callback to one of ‘Ye’s own bars on Watch The Throne's “Otis”, is Chancellor’s mission statement, and he delivers it with the confidence required for him to achieve his dreams), and to be clear, I like the man generally (he was funny as shit on SNL, and I appreciate his philanthropy): I just find all of his music to be boring, and I can’t be alone in that. The presence of Kirk Franklin at the end, leading his congregation (read: all eight hundred people present on the track), is the most gospel thing about “Ultralight Beam”: our host even released an extended version of Franklin’s vocals, entitled “Ultralight Prayer”, on Easter Sunday in 2016, for those of you who are inclined to believe in a higher being. Instead of being a shitty rap album intro, “Ultralight Beam” is just positive, powerful catharsis, and I’m here for it.

2. FATHER STRETCH MY HANDS, PT. 1 (FEAT. KID CUDI & KELLY PRICE)
But this song can eat my entire ass. Why “Father Stretch My Hands, Pt. 1” and its sequel received so much attention and acclaim is beyond me: they fucking suck. Were people that excited about former G.O.O.D. Music artist Kid Cudi’s involvement or something? Kanye’s bars are awful, and as per usual, his depictions of sex are so obnoxious that it’ll make you want to run out and apologize to every woman you see. I mean, all that shit about getting bleach on his shirt after fucking some model with a newly-bleached asshole? Who told him this was a good idea? It makes me want to vomit, and I realize rappers talk about boning all. The. Fucking. Time. But I hate this song so fucking much.

3. PT. 2 (FEAT. DESIIGNER & CAROLINE SHAW)
Completely negating our host’s creative vision, radio played both “Father Stretch My Hands, Pt. 1” and “Pt. 2” as a single track, and it’s all bad. “Pt. 2” is notable for Kanye West stealing up-and-coming Future impersonator Desiigner’s then-hit song “Panda” almost wholesale. It’s supposedly okay, though, since ‘Ye signed Desiigner to his G.O.O.D. Music imprint, so everyone’s happy…except for Future (probably) and “Panda” producer Menace, who snagged a co-producer credit on “Pt. 2” because, again, wholesale, but still may not have gotten paid for it, if rap media is telling the full story. “Panda” isn’t a very good song to begin with: it has some catchy bars, but it’s mostly trap nonsense that ultimately means nothing. But Kanye West’s taste in rap music has always been confusing and wholly his own: I mean, Paul Wall appears on Late Registration, and he once swiped a Chief Keef song for his own personal use, and Keef didn’t end up signed to his label. The only slightly interesting aspect of “Pt. 2” was when guest (and Pulitzer Prize-winning artist) Caroline Shaw crooned lightly toward the end, and I mostly dug that because Kanye remixed his own “Say You Will” (the first track from 808s & Heartbreak) with Shaw and released it online, and that new version is far superior to the album track, which I had also liked. Go listen to that remix instead.

4. FAMOUS (FEAT. RIHANNA & SWIZZ BEATZ)
So this song is fucking great. The instrumental, produced by ‘Ye and Havoc of Mobb Deep (and co-produced by seven additional people – our host is adamant about people receiving proper credit, which is refreshing), bangs: Swizz Beatz’s “Whooo!” once the music kicks in describes exactly how I feel about it. Unnecessary Taylor Swift reference aside, “Famous” finds Kanye West on top of his bullshit, describing what it’s like to both chase and find fame: he hasn’t sounded this engaged behind the mic in years. (Maybe bringing in CyHi the Prynce to write his verses was the best decision he ever made.) I prefer the original album version (as opposed to the original take on the song, which featured Young Thug and a direct, but kind of hilarious, swipe at Amber Rose, which is not to be confused with “Nina Chop”, another take on this same material that had featured Chance the Rapper, who still maintains a writing credit on “Famous”), where ‘Ye’s “Puerto Rican day parade-waving” bar aligns with the previous two bars: symmetry is important, and the replacement “real estate agent” line our host laid in well after The Life of Pablo was released sounds tossed-off, as though he was trying not to offend anyone with the original line, but failed to realize there wasn’t anything really bad about it. Rihanna sounds pretty goddamn great singing Nina Simone’s “Do What You Gotta Do” lyrics, and Swizzy somehow adds just the right amount of attitude, especially when the music to a loop of Sister Nancy’s “Bam Bam” inexplicably (although it totally works). Including Simone’s actual vocals at the end was a nice touch. But again, the beat is fantastic. The only comparison I can make is to how I felt when The RZA’s “Dark Fantasy” instrumental kicked in at the beginning of My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy: Kanye West has a knack for making things sound revelatory.

5. FEEDBACK
Having CyHi write the rhymes (and occasionally releasing his stuff on G.O.O.D. Music, such as his recent debut album No Dope on Sundays, which I haven’t listened to yet but understand isn’t bad) seems to be working out for our host, as his engagement in the entire musical process extends to “Feedback”, a far simpler platform than “Famous” for Kanye to talk his shit again. Personally, I dug it: although his line, “Name one genius that ain’t crazy”, is a little too on-the-nose, he at least sounds like he’s having some fun again behind the mic, which, as you may recall, was my biggest problem with Yeezus. The instrumental does sound like a retread from the Yeezus sessions, though, so consider yourself warned.

6. LOWLIGHTS
The vocals on this glorified interlude were lifted directly froim the acapella version of the Kings of Tomorrow track “So Alive”, so aside from the music underneath (as slight as it is), ‘Ye had nothing to do with this shit. He was going for connective tissue to the next track, though, so we’ll let it slide, as it’s no “Panda”-level theft.

7. HIGHLIGHTS (FEAT. YOUNG THUG, EL DEBARGE, THE-DREAM, & KELLY PRICE)
‘Ye also performed “Highlights” on SNL, but I can’t remember how he cleaned up the “I wish my dick had a GoPro” line for broadcast television, nor do I care to find out, because (a) yet again he makes sex feel dirty, and (b) I don’t like “Highlights” anyway. The line about Ray J is petty as fuck, too: any positivity ‘Ye was aiming for here is buried within some really stupid fucking lyrics. I suppose Young Thug was excited to be on SNL? I concede I’m in the minority here, but this track has never worked for me.

8. FREESTYLE 4 (FEAT. DESIIGNER)
I’d hate to hear the three versions of this that weren't considered good enough to make the album. (Yes! Solid joke! Nailed it!)

9. I LOVE KANYE
We seem to have hit an extremely low part of The Life of Pablo, but Kanye West is at least aware of what his fans and critics have been saying about him, hence “I Love Kanye”, an acapella verse delivered with the swagger he’s had since birth, seemingly. These lyrics, which are pretty goddamn funny, was first used in a skit on, you guessed it, SNL, but I’m not sure if this was the original take or if there used to be music underneath it all at one point. I do know that leaving this as an acapella interlude brought out the wolves (no pun intended) to make their own remixes, one of the most notable being DJ fucking Premier, who I feel did it justice.

10. WAVES (FEAT. CHRIS BROWN & KID CUDI)
This is literally the first time I’ve ever listened to “Waves”: my hatred of Chris Brown’s bitch ass is that strong. So consider this My Gut Reaction. I understand many people consider this to be a highlight of The Life of Pablo, but to me it wasn’t anything special: erase the wannabe gangbanger with anger issues and a severe cocaine addiction from here and “Waves” would still kind of suck. There’s nothing to this song at all: Kanye’s vocals are as unfocused as ever, and apparently Kid Cudi appears on here, too? This just sounds like a waste of everyone’s time. Am I missing something here? Let me know in the comments, please. And yes, I'm aware that Chance the Rapper was also originally supposed to be on here, but that couldn't have made it any better.

11. FML (FEAT. THE WEEKND & CAROLINE SHAW)
Meh. Very much meh.

12. REAL FRIENDS (FEAT. TY DOLLA $IGN)
The Life of Pablo finally gets good again with “Real Friends”, which takes the standard rapper trope of not trusting anyone outside of your circle, or only hanging out with those who had your back since day one, and Kanye Wests it up. Over a ‘Ye and Boi-1da instrumental (with assists from Frank Dukes and Havoc, among others), our host spits some pretty entertaining bars talking about his trust issues and familial concerns, including getting blackmailed by a cousin who stole a laptop from him that he recorded personal sex tapes on. The fact that he so freely admits this is kind of hilarious, even though that situation is still horrible. Ty Dolla $ign’s contributions are perfectly pleasant, but this is Kanye’s universe, and he sounds convincing as someone who’s conflicted about whether he should place his trust with the people in his life. Nice! Even though rapper Joey Bada$$ now claims that he was the inspiration for this song – if that were true, Joey, why aren’t you on it? Kanye loves inviting people to contribute, dude!

13. WOLVES (FEAT. SIA & VIC MENSA)
So when “Wolves” was originally released seemingly eleventy billion years before the album’s promotional push, it came with features from Sia and Vic Mensa: this is the song that Kanye performed at SNL’s fortieth anniversary special. (Yep, he brought Vic Mensa with him on national television. That’s quite the good look.) But when The Life of Pablo dropped, Sia and Vic were dropped in favor of Frank Ocean and a new Kanye verse. Fans complained, and interestingly enough, ‘Ye listened.


He then reinstated Sia and Vic’s contributions onto “Wolves”, moving Frank Ocean’s performance onto its own audio track. I like the music overall (which is credited to ‘Ye, Cashmere Cat, and Sinjin Hawke), with its moodiness that the guests both sound comfortable singing over. ‘Ye himself is decent, although his additional bars pale in comparison to his sung vocals. I mean, he raps about a sandwich at one point. And yet, I still kind of liked this.

14. FRANK’S TRACK (FEAT. FRANK OCEAN)
Not one to waste any part of the buffalo, here is Ocean’s added contribution to “Wolves” for your listening pleasure. A nice compromising gesture on Kanye’s part, and Frankie Ocean sounds just fine.

(Editor's note: I seem to remember the following songs on The Life of Pablo being listed or at least considered to be bonus tracks, but I can’t find any substantial proof of this, so I could be imagining things. Maybe ‘Ye took that designation away with the multiple revisions? If you have the answer, hit me up. Until then, here’s the rest of the album.)

15. SIIIIIIIIIVER SURFFFFEEEEER INTERLUDE (FEAT. MAX B. & FRENCH MONTANA)
Our host included this just to say, “See? I know Max B., so it’s cool that I called that one song “Waves.” Because there’s literally no other reason for this interlude to exist otherwise. French Montana lands a quick vocal cameo on a Kanye West album, though, so at least everything worked out for him.

16. 30 HOURS (FEAT. ANDRE 3000)
Runs for over five minutes, but Andre 3000’s contributions are limited to background vocals only. What the fuck? Why hire the guy then? “30 Hours” still works for me because Kanye West’s performance approximates Late Registration/Graduation levels of self-awareness and humor (aside from the blowjob joke, which was no bueno even in 2016). Drake apparently had a hand in writing this song, so that could explain everything there. I’m absolutely certain “30 Hours” was originally considered to be a bonus track because our host specifically says so, and he lets the beat ride at the end just so he can talk mad shit and reminisce about how rap albums used to end with the artist talking mad shit and thanking everyone and anyone, and I have to say, I’ve missed this old Kanye. The Yeezus-era Yeezy took himself far too seriously: the Kanye West present on “30 Hours” is comfortable enough to take a phone call in the recording booth toward the end of the track.

17. NO MORE PARTIES IN L.A. (FEAT. KENDRICK LAMAR)
The “old” Kanye that everyone misses comes out to play on “No More Parties in L.A.”, a duet with Kendrick Lamar where K-Dot’s sex raps sound just as forced and abhorrent as those of our host. Ugh. Kung Fu Kenny sounds alright otherwise, but the more I hear this song, the more I don’t like his performance. ‘Ye is fucking fantastic on here, though: his bars are hilarious and brisk, a nice change of pace since the man hardly ever flat-out raps anymore. (He mentions, “The writer’s block is over”, which is a nice thought, but I understand this song was recorded quite a while ago, so it means nothing.) Madlib’s catchy instrumental doesn’t need the Ghostface Killah “Mighty Healthy” sample for it to work (side note: fuck, does ‘Ye love that song or what? See: Cruel Summer’s “New God Flow”), as our host puts in overtime to make this shit enjoyable as fuck. Trim Kendrick Duckworth off of here, and it could be a perfect Kanye West one-verse wonder, that one verse being Cappadonna “Winter Warz”-crazy long. Yeah, I fucking said it. He’s having so much fun on “No More Parties in L.A.” that you can feel the euphoria through your earbuds or speakers.

18. FACTS (CHARLIE HEAT VERSION)
When ‘Ye first released “Facts” on New Year’s Eve in 2015, it was a riff on Drake and Future’s “Jumpman”: given how he used and abused Desiigner’s “Panda”, I wonder why he didn’t pony up the cash for the “Jumpman” instrumental in the first place. Both takes on “Facts” are shit-talking sessions, with Kanye taking shots at Nike for not being Adidas (which is why he aped “Jumpman” in the first placel), but the “Charlie Heat Version” features an instrumental that’s slightly more interesting than whatever Metro Boomin’ gave Aubrey and Nayvadius. Enjoyable in an ignorant way, but nothing special.

19. FADE (FEAT. POST MALONE & TY DOLLA $IGN)
The original final song on The Life of Pablo. My guess is that you two only think of the Teyana Taylor-starring video clip for “Fade” when you read the title, forgetting there was an actual song there. Completely understandable: there’s barely a song here anyway, and ‘Ye hardly factors on the mic. It’s not unenjoyable, but it will fade from your memory very quickly. Unlike the video, I assume. And you’ll notice I didn’t say one fucking word about one of the guest stars. (Ty Dolla $ign appears, as well.)

The final track on The Life of Pablo was added as a part of ‘Ye’s final revision.

20. SAINT PABLO (FEAT. SAMPHA)
“Saint Pablo” was tacked on to the project after accidentally leaking a few months prior, and is considered by some to be the very best track on The Life of Pablo, Kanye’s rhymes meshing beautifully with the Jay-Z “Where I’m From” musical sample. Our host’s bars are far more serious on here than the rest of the project, as he explores his own mental well-being as he experiences the highs and lows of his career. Sampha drops by to lend the hook to a surprisingly introspective ending to a Kanye West album. Hey, look at that, we’re finally done.

FINAL THOUGHTS: The Life of Pablo is Kanye West’s most fascinating album, as it portrays an artist’s creative vision in almost real-time. It’s also leagues better than Yeezus could ever dream of being, and no, I’m not being a contrarian for contrarian’s sake, Yeezus is a bad album that only people who want to pretend their musical tastes are better and more refined than yours claim to enjoy. The constant alterations were frustrating: if any rap album deserves a box set of every single demo and alternate take, The Life of Pablo would get my vote. The ridiculous song sequencing, the terrible lyrics on most of the songs, and our host’s insistence on going back to the project to make unnecessary changes after Def Jam Records had already promoted and released the motherfucker makes this album at the very least unique. But was our host successful in creating an album that he clearly wasn’t ready to let go of? It depends. There are some great songs on The Life of Pablo that deserve their inevitable slots on your Kanye West playlist, and there is some godawful dreck that will make you question your life choices. My overall assessment is that The Life of Pablo doesn’t truly work as a cohesive album: throwing every single idea you’ve ever had into a project usually brings about that kind of result, especially when some of those thoughts include, “Panda?”, “Kirk Franklin and Swizz Beatz are both in the studio, what can I do with them?”, and “You know, what bad could come from Rihanna and Chris Brown appearing on the same project?” It’s also bizarre that, aside from Desiigner, who doesn't count, there are no G.O.O.D. Music artists given ample placement on The Life of Pablo, although he also didn’t give anyone on his label a proper showcase on Yeezus, either: I suppose Pusha T was named president of G.O.O.D. Music as a consolation prize. Don’t you all think King Push would have sounded pretty good on “Famous”? Anyway, for an album The Life of Pablo is very difficult to grade without taking into consideration its creation, which is as scattershot as its creator, but if you try to accept the music for what it is, it’s far better than Yeezus, but still lower-tier Kanye West for me. And that is what it is.

BUY OR BURN? The highs on The Life of Pablo are deliriously high, but the lows are among the worst songs Kanye West has ever recorded. But given that the only way to purchase this album is digitally and through West’s own website, it’s a tricky proposition. Even though there are eight songs listed below as the project’s best tracks, I’d say stream this one: that way, you won’t feel cheated if Kanye opts to change more of the tracks at a later date.

BEST TRACKS: “Famous”; “Saint Pablo”; “No More Parties in L.A.”; “Wolves”; “Real Friends”; “30 Hours”; “Ultralight Beam”; “Feedback”

-Max

RELATED POSTS:
If you’re not too exhausted from reading this review, you can catch up on the rest of the Kanye West write-ups by clicking here.

13 comments:

  1. wow. hats off, that was a review. perfect valentine's treat for me to sit and read alone for consolation! I think famous is the only time I've felt a swizz beats vocal contribution actually added to a song, rather than subtracted from the overall experience

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  2. Interesting story: In XXL's Making of Cormega's The Realness, Cory said -- with some regret -- that Havoc planned for the original version of "Famous" to make the album, but Mega rejected it and "Thun & Kicko" (Cormega also confirms that P's shots weren't meant for Nas). I also prefer the original version of Famous myself, even with the loop starting with the second half of the RDM sample throwing me off. It also helps that Thugger's stepped up his game from his earlier 2010s fare, and the "I made that bitch famous" line (though stupid) sits better with me now ever since Kim Kardashian's card-pulling of T-Swift last year.

    I'm pretty much in agreement with you about the album's general merits: The great songs are fantastic, but the derpier ones are fucking horrible (though at least for me the "bleached asshole" and "You get a big booty bitch" approach "so-dumbshit-they're-hilarious" bad for me). Anyway, here's Kanye's 1996 Fat Beats cypher with Al' Tariq:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LiSWjjIVXgI

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    1. *should read, "and retained 'Thun and Kicko'," which Havoc was about to trash.

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  3. The production on here is fantastic, and some of these songs (Famous, Real Friends, 30 Hours are my favorites) are incredible. A lot of the bad songs are still enjoyable enough in an ignorant kind of way, but a few (Freestyle, Highlights, Pt 2) are just horrendous.

    Completely agreed on this being an improvement from Yeezus. The production is so much better, the songs are more interesting, and the whole mood is just less bombastic and grating. Still probably my 5th favorite Kanye album, but it's good.

    Hopefully his next project is a further improvement yet. Maybe a bit shorter, with better guest rappers (Pusha, Jay, even Cyhi would be better than some of the guests on here).

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  4. Yeah, no way I’m supporting this headcase. I don’t care how much love he shows to his collaborators: The man is way too goddamn overrated and up his own ass (contrary to popular belief, he never needed any help getting there). Sure he’s a talented producer/musician but (in my opinion) dude never spit a rhyme worthy of recognition and I’ve pretty much tried to give all his shit a chance. Plus, he’s a HUGE reason why we have all this menses on the airwaves today.

    In closing, fuck his entire rap career.

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  5. If I'm not mistaken, the original tracklist for the The Life of Pablo (this is after the title had been changed to The Life Of Pablo) stopped after 13 or 14 tracks, he debuted this album in full at one of his Yeezy Season fashion shows in February 2016.

    However, almost immediately afterwards he more songs so the total number of songs was 19. So the first version of the album that he played had 14 songs, but the first version available for streaming and purchasing had 19 songs.

    Then he added St. Pablo a month later, which is a much better way to end the album.

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  6. Makes me a little sad that it's taken Havoc this long to secure truly a high profile gig (if I'm not mistaken, feel free to correct me) outside the Mobb. Beats like famous make me wonder what he could've done for black album era Jay-Z

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    1. Havoc produced Jadakiss' "Why," which was a Top 10 hit in 2004.

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  7. Been waiting two years for the reivew, Max, and it did not disappoint. A few things to note:

    -In spite of any kind of popularity they might have gotten compared to other tracks off the album (Waves in particular, which is one of the most streamed songs), Highlights and Waves are easily two of the worst five songs that Kanye has ever recorded. The irony of this is that Highlights originally included a Carole King sample and a longer final verse from Ye along with other instrumental flourishes that didn't outright save the track but at least made it interesting instead of straight radio fodder. The original Waves with Chance and a choir backing also had a ton of potential and Chance even performed that version of the song on his recent tour; it sounded MUCH better than Chris Brown's lame ass.

    -So you didn't at least appreciate the production on FSMH Pt. 1? The lyrics leave a lot to be desired for sure but the build up-beat drop-chorus that encompasses the first minute of the track may be the most euphoric moment of Kanye's entire discography IMO

    -Kanye's NMPILA verse actually was recorded in January 2016 towards the tail end of the album's recording process. It's true that he did receive the beat from Madlib during the MBDTF sessions and had the chorus along with the spray tan line that opens the track written (as evidenced in the bonus footage from the Vinyl Weighs a Ton Stones Throw documentary from a few years back) but everything following Kendrick's verse is brand new, hence the references to his newborn son and other tidbits of pop culture that wouldn't have existed at the start of the decade.

    -The debate on whether or not everything following Frank's Track is a bonus track or not will likely never be resolved. Considering Kanye had originally planned for it to end with Wolves all along and the songs following it include two previously released joints (30 Hours and NMPILA), a remix of a song that was already out (Facts), a track that hadn't been a part of the evolving tracklist since the very first incarnation (Fade), and a song that was recorded after the album was even fucking originally released (Saint Pablo), it's easy to consider them as add-ons more than anything else to boost the streaming numbers for the record (which ironically, given the penchant for artists to release insanely long albums the last couple years with how streaming rules generate album sales, may actually end up being TLOP's biggest influence on music, at least for the foreseeable future). Nonetheless, I like to consider them as legitimate songs as they've never TRULY been called bonus tracks 30 Hours aside, and I feel like most of them are better than a lot of what ended up on the "real" album anyway. Plus it adds to the scatterbrained, disjointed nature of the record by padding it out to 20 tracks.

    -I too would describe this as Kanye's most interesting release and the six month period of the album's hype, drop and subsequent updates were the most exciting time to be a Kanye West fan next to the lead up to MBDTF. Funnily enough I was extremely disappointed with the first mix of the album with its awful distortion, and the haphazard nature of the tracklist and the album's music in general was a huge turn off for someone like Kanye who was known for keeping a new and consistent sound running through each of his projects. With time the random nature of the songs grew on me and with the final mix of the record coming out in April 2016 (along with adding Saint Pablo as the closer two months later) I finally resigned to admitting that Kanye had done the record justice. It now sits as my 4th favorite in his catalog. Far from perfect but endlessly entertaining.

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  8. this is the most Kanye album Kanye could ever make. I would argue it's the most quintessential, if not the most essential, of his catalogue and has to be commended for that at least

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  9. damn, who remembers waiting for SWISH.?

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  10. Album is meh at best. Expected alot more after the travesty that was Yeezus...

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  11. Yeezus is going to take a minimum of 10 years for society to absorb.

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