Kanye Returns with “Gutsy” Album

“The Life of Pablo” features solid songs and styles



Kanye West performs at the 57th Annual Grammy Awards at Staples Center in Los Angeles on Sunday, Feb. 8, 2015. (Robert Gauthier/Los Angeles Times/TNS)

It took three years, but we finally have Kanye West’s eighth studio album “TLOP” or “The Life of Pablo.” It consists of 19 tracks, which is a huge step up compared to “Yeezus,” his last studio album, with only 10 tracks.

“Yeezus” could be Kanye’s album with the most mixed reviews to date. Some people didn’t like it, and there were fans who might have wondered if he could ever be “droput days” Kanye again (“College Dropout” – 2004). Well, this album isn’t anything like “Ye” ever made, not by a long shot. It is gutsy and just completely different. Here is a song by song review with a rating from 1-10:

“Ultralight Beam” – Overall, this is an excellent beginning. There is a gospel feel to it, and it truly feels like Ye is portrayed as God throughout the song. You can feel Kanye’s effort throughout the production, even though he is hardly in it, and that is his “x-factor” as an artist. Rating (9)

“Father Stretch My Hands, Pt. 1” – Once again, you feel the gospel beat in the beginning, but as the song goes on everything stops, and then you hear Future’s (guest artist) voice. It’s unexpected and seems like it comes out of nowhere. He says one line and then the entire beat changes to a faster pace as the gospel sound fades away. The use of auto-tune works well here – it’s an excellent song. Rating (8)

“Pt.2” – This is basically a “Panda” remix. It’s upbeat and very fast paced. It gets overlooked, but he makes many references to his parent’s passing. He also references the accident where he broke his jaw. Rating (8)

“Famous” – The only single on the whole album. It is notoriously known as the “Taylor Swift diss” track. The beat is very up-tempo, in part because of Swizz Beatz (producer).  Rihanna (guest artist) doesn’t do too badly of a job on the hook either. It’s easily one of the more popular songs on the album. Rating (8)

“Feedback” – I liked this song a lot, but it  is a “Yeezus” outcast. It has no hook, but that isn’t needed to make this a good song. The best line – “Name one genius that ain’t crazy,” which refers to himself. Rating (7)

“Low Lights” – I wouldn’t necessarily call this a song, but a nice testimony. It uses a lot of biblical verses and adds to this gospel heavy album. Rating (6)

“Highlights” – This is a very controversial song. It’s incredibly catchy and one my of my favorites. There are references to the Kim Kardashian and Ray J situation (previous beau). He brings up how he and Ray J would be friends if they didn’t both love her, and he brings up the fact that he has 21 Grammys. Young Thug (guest artist) does a good job on his verse. Rating (8)

“Freestyle 4” – To be blunt, I hated this song. The album really doesn’t need it. It also feels like a “Yeezus” outcast. This was arguably the least appealing song on the entire album. Rating (4)

“I Love Kanye” – This is classic Kanye at his best. He just talks about himself. It was a great freestyle – very simple and to the point. Rating (8)

“Waves” – Thank you Chance the Rapper (producer) for forcing this song on the album. Lyrically, it’s simple and shows emotion. It was a late addition, and it’s solid. There is a lot of emotion and it has a decent beat. Rating (7)

“FML” – The addition of The Weeknd (guest artist) helps make this into a more cryptic R&B song. The Weeknd does a great job on the hook. It’s dark and he talks about his real life in depth. It has a simple beat in the beginning, and as it progresses, it raises and feels darker and more cryptic. Rating (8)

“Real Friends” – This has a very simple but effective beat that gets the job done. Ye talks about his family, friends and life in general. He mentions his cousin who stole his very important laptop. Kanye had to pay him $250,000 to get it back. Ty dolla $ign (guest artist) was excellent lyrically. This song probably ranks among the more popular songs on the album and for good reason. Rating (9)

“Wolves” – The gospel/Christian feel returns as Yeezy references Kim Kardashian as Mary and himself as Joseph. His children are compared to Jesus. Sia and Vic Mensa (guest artists) do an excellent job on their parts. Once again, that dark and cryptic beat returns. It felt complete and overall sounded crisp. Rating (8)

“Frank’s Track” – This track was originally on “Wolves,” but was scratched out instead for the Sian and Vic Mensa version. It’s good to know that Frank Ocean is still around. We’re still waiting on that new album Frank. Rating (7)

“Siiiiiiiiilver Surffffeeeeer Intermission” – This is not a song; it’s just a phone call to prove there is no beef between Kanye and Max B, referencing what the album was named before it was called “TLOP” – “Waves.” Rating (7)

“30 Hours” – This has a very simple baseline and beat throughout. It references fights with exes and flows nicely. Rating (8)

“No More Parties in LA” – A good reminder of old Ye, it has the beat sounds of an old hip hop song. The Kendrick Lamar (guest artist) feature takes this song off the charts. Once again, Kanye delivers and Kendrick (guest artist) does too. Rating (8)

“Facts (Charlie Heat Version)” – The so called “Nike diss” is fast paced with some controversial lyrics, with talk lyrics about Nike treating employees like slaves or and the Bill Cosby sex assault talk. Kanye was all over the place in this song. It was a decent diss track, but probably didn’t need to be here. Rating (6)

“Fade” – “I feel it fade” – I must have heard that lyric at least 500 times in this song. It was catchy nonetheless, it’s not lyrically driven, but the beat and catchiness makes it a solid song. The use of auto-tune was also effective. Rating (7)

“The Life Of Pablo” is a good album. It might not rank among Kanye’s top efforts, but there is more good than bad here.  So, what’s the final score? I give it an (8).