With Yeezus, Kanye West moved into the odd air of rapper whose actual life/personality/celebrity eclipsed even his most grandiose boasts. The Life of Pablo grapples with that semi-achievement and it fails miserably.
If the name on the sleeve of this record was “John Doe” would anyone even care or give this a second listen? The answer is no. The Life of Pablo clings solely onto West’s celebrity status, lyrically it would have made for a more interesting Twitter rant than a 18 track release . Musically it is ridiculously sparse to the point of empty and hollow; where Yeezus seemed to be taking minimalist artistic risks with its programming, The Life of Pablo just feels lazy, vacant and pointless.
Throughout the album West tries to portray his version of gospel/religion to the struggles of being with one girl, but his woe-is-me/but-I’m-still-rich routine (and the full religious idea) wears thin and falls away quickly from him and the listener; just as the majority of the beats/music. The song construction is ridiculously strange or just half assed, tunes shift/stop/introduce a new sample ¾’s of the way through. Some of those musical changes can be invigorating as is the case on “Famous” which finds a new life when the “Bam Bam” Sister Nancy arrives, but even that song feels more like an unfinished demo than a designer high end release. Having ten (plus) writers and producers on songs is laughable, especially with so little musical statements taking place.
All of the guests who drop a verse or two (Chance the Rapper, Kendrick Lamar, Ty Dolla $ign to name a few) sound more engaged and excited to be there. All also overshadow West whose most interesting lyrical contribution is on the so meta it’s breaking meta “I Love Kanye”. Simply put, The Life of Pablo is a disaster as West can not see the artist from the TMZs anymore.