Nowadays, Kanye the celebrity is far more of the focus than Kanye the musician. “I got rid of my phone so I can have air to create”, West tweeted on September 14, 2016. That may be the entertainment tweet of the year. For real. But this, nor West’s bizarre fashion line can change the fact that his seventh album, The Life of Pablo, is a muddled affair that lacks real direction.
TLOP pales in comparison to many of his previous efforts, regardless of whether you’re partial to West’s early era or the more recent work. Some of this is down to the three updates that album received once it had been official “released”. Innovative? Sure. But another way of looking at this is that the album wasn’t really finished.
To understand the absurd indulgence of TLOP you need look no further than ‘Famous’: even without its controversial Taylor Swift line and that ludicrous music video, it’s a shrivelled husk of a song that’s neither clever nor cool. West frequently describes himself as an “artist”, and feels that music can “change the world”. It’s a struggle to see TLOP doing anything accept offering a cursory distraction to the political and social strains around you.
But that said, songs ‘Real Friends (feat. Ty Dolla Sign)’, ‘No More Parties in LA (feat. Kendrick Lamar)’, ‘30 Hours (feat. André 3000)’ and late addition ‘Saint Pablo (feat. Sampha)’ are reason to sample West’s latest self-indulgent dream – if only briefly. With his phone gone, perhaps we’ll get something closer to The College Dropout or My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy and less like an overblown mixtape next time.
The Life of Pablo is out now on GOOD Music/Def Jam Records.