The Life of Pablo has been bouncing around the internet as of last week and people are LOOSING THEIR MINDS. And rightly so. TLOP is messy, real, dramatic, bold, and highlights Kanye West‘s ability to be more than just a statement maker. West has alluded to this being the first album in his career that hasn’t been about making a statement. A man with a deep devotion to his Christian faith, the album still transcend the boundaries of traditional religiousosity and is appealing through amazing beats and street-gospel lyrics to people of all faiths. TLOP is a deep personal reflection that is humanizing of a man who is often referred to by popular culture as having an unchecked God-complex. In The Life of Pablo we see West as a real man; a man with insecurity, addiction, vice, triumph, family, pain, love, and success.
TLOP beings with “Ultralight Beam” opened by a young child preaching the gospel. We start with the idea of a divine presence in the world. West starts in a place of comfort, his relationship with God, and then moves from that comfort to show his soul. West expands his goal of bringing humanity back to the original essence of music by including a variety of artists he mentors on his tracks. Included on “Ultralight Beam” are Natalie the Great, The Dream, Kelly Price, Kirk Franklin, and Chance the Rapper.
I made Sunday Candy, I’m never going to hell
I met Kanye West, I’m never going to fail
You said let’s do a good ass job with Chance three
I heard you gotta sell it to snatch the Grammy
Let’s make it so free and the bar so hard
That a day one gosh darn part you can’t tweet
This is my part, nobody else speak
Through the comparison of “Sunday Candy” preventing Chance’s decent into hell to meeting Kanye West and being unable to fail – listeners can see the lyrics West uses to shut down those who criticize him claiming him to have a god complex and his inclination to act without fear or acknowledgement of consequence. Though this West is humanize. Furthermore the superstar, as clearly shown in the next line, where West encourages Chance to not sell his music in favor for a free release to throw off the outdated system of selection the Grammies use for nominating and selecting artists.
We see further disillusion of this supposed god complex further by the track “I Love Kanye,” an acapella track that pokes fun at pop-culture’s affinity for poking fun at Kanye and his perceived self-obsession.
What if Kanye made a song about Kanye/ Called “I Miss The Old Kanye,” man that would be so Kanye/ That’s all it was Kanye, we still love Kanye
And I love you like Kanye loves Kanye
It brings up the question of is West actually self-centered and congratulatory OR does he rather poke fun at the absurdity of life, particularly his life. West is incredibly introspective and whole heartily reflective of his experience which he can only explain through his eyes. The way he sees the world is different than anyone else.
Other highlights from the album include, “Father Stretch My Hands Pt. 1,” “Famous,” “FML,” “Real Friends,””I Love Kanye,” “No More Parties In LA,” and “30 Hours.”
“30 Hours” creates an interesting contrast to the religious themes presented in the beginning of the album due to the sexually graphic nature of the song and the implied infidelity of its subjects at the song’s beginning as. This is the ultimate example of Kanye’s humanity. He’s outwardly exposing his flaws and sins while later in this track thanking the people he’s closes too. This juxtaposition is telling of the complicated inner dialogue Kanye deals with, exemplified in the lyrics:
My ex says she gave me the best years of her life/ I saw a recent picture of her, I guess she was right
Cause you was in college complainin’ about it’s no jobs/ But you were suckin’ a n**ga’s dick the whole time/ Well I guess a blowjob’s better than no job
Remember when the whole block’d get shout out?/ This my version of a shout out track
There’s tension in his celebrity where West feels disconnected from the people closest to him out of fear of them abusing his fame but there is also a desire for human closeness and understanding. The myth of his god-complex is exactly that; a myth. West is proving his greatest by asserting his humanity.
West shouts out to his inner turmoil by calling out the anti-depressant/anti-anxiety medication Lexapro. In “FML” West raps:
See before I let you go, one last thing I need to let you know/ You ain’t never seen nothin crazier than/ This n**ga when he off his Lexapro
West is damaged as a person, hurt, normal, yet one of the greatest musicians of the generation because of his relentless struggle to create the best music he can and to speak his mind.
He’s damaged, insecure, incredibly talented, devoted family man and most importantly- he’s human.