The love of Pablo
February 15, 2017
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Valentine’s Day has come and gone and I have the same love I had this time last year: rapper Kanye West’s album, “The Life of Pablo.”
West’s seventh studio album came out on Feb. 14, 2016 and it’s withstood the test of time. This album is a masterpiece and shows the true greatness that West achieved with his previous albums. As a huge Kanye fan, he lost me with Yeezus but he won me over and made me fall in love all over again with “The Life of Pablo.”
Before “The Life of Pablo” came about, it was originally titled “SWISH,” referring to his 2013 deal with Nike, which he called off after the shoe company failed to give him royalties and delayed his Red October shoes. His original track list did not include “Ultralight Beam,” “Father Stretch My Hands pt. 2,” “Famous,” “Feedback,” “Low Lights,” “Freestyle 4,” “I Love Kanye,” “Silver Surfer Intermission,” “30 Hours,” “Facts,” or “Saint Pablo,” some of the stronger tracks on the album. Just two days after he released his tracklist, West announced the album’s name was changing to “Waves.”
The album art for “Waves” is famously known for having signatures on a note pad such as A$AP Rocky, Kylie Jenner, Kim Kardashian, Swizz Beatz and many more. Having all the different celebrities and musicians stop by gave “Waves” even more hype. Change wasn’t something new to the album, but I never would’ve thought he would change it to what it is today.
Just days before it’s release, Kanye announced on Twitter that he would change the album’s title from “Waves,” to “The Life of Pablo.” Since its original release, the album has changed physically, and he was one of the first, if not the first artist to ever edit his album after it’s released.
In the song “Feedback,” the whole production got a makeover. The original loud beats were replaced with smoother synths so his vocals weren’t overpowered by the production. He broke “Wolves” into two different songs, and the original outro became “Frank’s Track.” West added background vocals, fine-tuned beats, and made small lyrical changes. The most pleasant change was his addition of “Saint Pablo,” a song that samples Jay-Z’s “Where I’m From” as he speaks about his trouble with money, his ego and the Black Lives Matter movement.
It wasn’t the first time Black Lives Matter was mentioned in his ever-changing album. Chance the Rapper’s original line for the album’s first song, “Ultralight Beam” is “But people don’t just forget about Jason Van Dyke” — which refers to the shooting of Laquan McDonald, who was slain by Jason Van Dyke — was changed to “cause they’ll flip the script on your ass like Wesley and Spike.”
Kanye’s ability to use his platform to speak upon things bigger than himself while using his celebrity status to make other artists better is another reason why this album is easily one of his best.
Before “The Life of Pablo,” rappers like Chance the Rapper, Desiigner and Frank Ocean were overlooked by many. Chance the Rapper, a Chicago native like West, made it a priority to remain an independent artist. His junior album, “Coloring Book,” won him three Grammys on Sunday for best new artist, best rap album and best rap performance this year.
Desiigner wasn’t noticed much before signing to G.O.O.D. Music, West’s record label, not even a week before “The Life of Pablo” was released. Since then, he has become a four-time platinum record selling artist for his song “Panda,” which was featured on “Father Stretch My Hands pt. 2.”
The exposure West gave these young artists allowed them to have a breakout year after they were featured on “The Life of Pablo.”
Unfortunately, with greatness comes darkness. Kanye had plenty of breakdowns and outbursts following the release of the album. In his tour visits to Oakland, San Jose and Sacramento in November he gave rant after rant about politics, the way the media portrays artists, and his own problems before eventually cancelling the rest of the shows on his tour. West was one of the more famous celebrities to endorse Hillary Clinton, yet after Donald Trump won the presidency he was seen alongside him for a meeting not too long after.
Before the shows were cancelled, he went on in a rant at a Sacramento show about how the radio was messing up the culture by not playing young, up and coming artists. He also talked about his rocky friendship with Beyonce and Jay-Z and his allegiance to Clinton, all before he was checked into the hospital for exhaustion and sleep deprivation.
Overall, I have to love West for what he has done with music and culture. This is an album that will be loved for many years to come for what it is and what it will become. ‘West once again shows his forward-thinking by being the first artist to ever change his album while being released. Whether it be “SWISH”, “Waves” or “The Life of Pablo”, this was one of the greatest albums to date.