If “The Life of Pablo” holds any parallels to Picasso, the brilliant Spanish painter for whom the album is supposedly named, it is through its diverse style. Like an uncanny Picasso painting, the album unfolds into a menagerie of sounds and melodies that transcends West’s career across its 58-minute totality.
Off the bat, West hits quick with gospel-driven “Ultralight Beam,” which features the voice of Chance the Rapper, still giddy with amazement at the opportunity to collaborate with West, over West’s almost methodic refrain, “I’m tryna keep my faith.”
Indeed, apparent in the album are motifs of grief and personal struggle, as West combats his difficulties to remain loyal to the commitments he has in life and avoid being driven to insanity by the pressure of fame.
The emotional grapple that underlies the album comes to fruition in the piece “Real Friends.” West raps, “When was the last time I remembered a birthday? When was the last time I wasn’t in a hurry?” Across the track, the duo of West and Ty Dolla $ign collaborate to form an infectious rap that tackles one of the larger questions of the album: How can West continue to rationalize relationship issues with fame?
It seems almost ironic that most of the material of the album centers around West’s personal problems. Is the rapper whose public confidence seems to never waver showing some sign of weakness?
Well, it’s easy to jump to rash conclusions. West’s ego manages to burst on the scene through the song “Facts,” as he raps, “Yeezy, Yeezy, Yeezy, just jumped over Jumpman,” referring to the might of his new Adidas Yeezy Boost shoe line over Nike’s popular Jordan brand.
Despite West’s various vulgar declarations and ponderings throughout the album that bolster his ego, the married man can’t resist venting his temptations.
Still, the largely unrefined nature of “The Life of Pablo” makes it an intriguing piece of work. Did Kanye intend for his listeners to feel like they’re listening to a leak of an unfinished product, or is this just another one of his intentional ploys?
So choose what you want. Continue to disregard West as a stalwart in the rap industry, or jump on the bandwagon and love him “like Kanye loves Kanye.”