Kanye West's "The Life of Pablo"(TLOP), released Feb. 14, is an audacious, layered piece of work that finally sees West deciding not to make a huge statement, but instead looking inward and giving us a chance to relate and empathize instead of judge. Whether his hijinks in the media are performance art or the shouts of an unquiet mind, his new work is an explosive collision of sound on wax.
The direct comparison to Pablo Picasso and West's claim to be the greatest living artist make more sense when considering he's already won 21 Grammies, more than anyone else in history. He's also one of the top-selling artists of all time and like many other famous artists in history he is weird, outspoken, impulsive and egotistical. He's often dismissed as just another narcissistic icon, but in reality he's no more or less ridiculous than Madonna, but with much more to say.
West became progressively more experimental with "808s & Heartbreak" in 2008, followed by the 2010 release of "My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy," living up to his potential as a rapper and producer. "Yeezus" in '13 debuted at number one on Billboard and topped charts and sales records around the world from Australia to Germany. It propelled him to avant-garde hip-hop status and gave him enough cred to experiment as much as he wanted as an artist.
"The Life of Pablo," West's seventh album, takes every sound and every genre he's ever tried and wraps it together in a messy, brilliant operating theater examination of Kanye West's heart, head and soul. The album opener "Ultralight Beam" brings church gospel vocals into a stripped down production with a great verse from Chance the Rapper. "Famous" disses on Taylor Swift but has a complicated beat that drops into a flipped "Bam Bam" by Sister Nancy halfway through while sporting an amazing Rihanna hook, while "Feedback" is confessional. He raps, "I've been out of my mind for a long time. I've been saying how I feel at the wrong time," and we understand.
"The Life of Pablo"
Artist: Kanye West
Released: Feb. 14, 2016