Kanye West’s ‘The Life of Pablo’ (Two Years Later)

By: Graham Eisenhauer
OwlFeed Journalist

“This is not album of the year. This is album of the life.” -Kanye West, Twitter.

Originally titled, WAVES, SWISH and So Help Me God, The Life of Pablo was a feature-packed, record-breaking, “living breathing changing creative expression,” (words from West’s own Twitter). From the melancholy “Real Friends” to the choir backed gospel rap epic “Ultralight Beam,” Kanye West’s most experimental studio album was released on Valentine’s Day, 2016. The love declarations in “Low Lights” as well as the desperate pleas for someone to listen in “Saint Pablo” show a side of Kanye that we had only gotten hints of previously. image2 (1)

At times, Kanye appears to get almost too personal. Rapping about his therapy sessions and discussing whether him and Kim could get away with intercourse at a dinner party are only just examples of this strange side that is occasionally the polar opposite of the chain-swinging anthems of The College Dropout, or the acid-trap influenced Yeezus.

In addition to Kanye being more open lyrically and musically, Kanye seemed to be a lot more open with who had a voice on this album. The Life of Pablo features critically acclaimed musicians such as Chance the Rapper, Vic Mensa, André 3000, Frank Ocean, Kendrick Lamar, Rihanna, KiD CuDi, Young Thug, Desiigner, Chris Brown, Sampha, Future, Post Malone, The Weeknd and so many more.  You can see the entire list of credited people here.

Despite working with a large amount of people on it, Kanye had a specific process for this particular record. At 12:44 AM on January 10, 2016 (just over a month than the expected release date), Mr. West tweeted, “I have no interest in working with anyone who is too important or too good or too traditional to take a call at 3am.” Fans were confused. Why is he still pulling all-nighters to work on an album that comes out so soon?

Kanye would later explain to fans through Twitter that this messy release was his vision of  “#contemporaryart.” The idea of changing the way people perceive music releases would be further backed by close friend and collaborator Frank Ocean’s Blond(e)/Endless releases.

Kanye had promised an album release of February 11th- however, his tweets made it evident that perhaps this would not be the case. Last minute changes were being made again and again. The handwritten tracklist that Kanye had originally tweeted changed several times, each time with varying differences and eventually became plastered with many signatures of those who had helped on the album, the most legible one being from fellow millionaire and family member Kourtney Kardashian herself.

The debut of West’s Yeezy Season 3 at Madison Square Garden was followed up by the public listening party of The Life of Pablo where most didn’t really expect to hear the album. They had been promised different albums and release dates for 3 years.  In a way, the skeptics were right, as the final version of the record wasn’t what was played for those in attendance of Yeezy Season 3.

Kanye’s perfectionist nature was the main cause for the delays and broken promises. However, long term fans are used to this and know that Yeezy doesn’t always stick to his word. Those who remember the hinted at Turbografx 16 will know exactly what I’m talking about.

So where are we now?

The Life Of Pablo has since been updated several times, including new lyrics, features and an entire new song. This constant upkeep (ending sometime mid-2016) conveyed the idea that West is not finished. He’s expanding his skillset, attempting to give the world a better idea of what it really means to be Kanye West.

The Life Of Pablo was simply another step in Kanye’s plan, and we will see how it plays out within the coming years through his fashion, music and entrepreneurship.