The release of Kanye West’s long awaited sixth album was a tale of confusion and uncertainty. Originally named So Help Me God, it faced three name changes including SWISH, Waves and finally, The Life of Pablo (T.L.O.P.). The album took place in Kanye’s Yeezy Season 3, the release of his newest collection which included fashion, a videogame and most importantly, music. Leading up to the release, Kanye simply went insane. Twitter rants and awkwardly timed releases left most fans confused but still optimistic. Four songs on T.L.O.P., “Facts”, “Real Friends”, “No More Parties in L.A.”, and “30 Hours” were dropped in the weeks preluding his official release. While the songs built hype, many were left uncertain due to the lack of direction within the four songs. Until now, every Kanye album had it’s own theme. However, T.L.O.P. is something we’ve never heard before.
Taking inspiration from every Kanye album until now, T.L.O.P. saw songs related to The College Dropout, Late Registration, Graduation, 808’s and Heartbreak, My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy and Yeezus. The opening track, “Ultralight Beam,” has the feeling of gospel laid throughout. This will become one of the many themes of the album and unfortunately will stray away many listeners. However, for those who enjoy it, T.L.O.P. will become one of their favorite albums. Similar to almost every Kanye West piece, it’s either going to fit your taste or not. Yeezus is the perfect example of this as it’s edgy and chaotic beats sent many listeners away disappointed. However, it was still received well critically and is regarded as one of the best rap albums of the 2010’s. The range of songs in T.L.O.P. is staggering and makes it hard to review without writing an entire essay. Popular songs like “Famous” featuring Rihanna, standout along with “Father Stretch My Hands Pt. 2” and the newly redubbed “Facts (Charlie Heat Version).” Rough and gritty songs like “Feedback” are followed up with the gospel like speech in “Low Lights.” There’s no way to understand this album clearly, it’s a creatively genius disaster.
T.L.O.P. must be listened through fully to understand the confusion. In a time where artists like Drake and Future standout through their release of radio hits and club-bangers, it’s refreshing to see an album that conforms to almost none of the standards we see in rap today. Furthermore, it doesn’t hurt that Kanye West, arguably the greatest rapper of our generation, was the one to break this redundant streak. Whether you hate him for his actions outside of a studio, it’s hard to deny the musical genius of this one-man show.