Kanye West is out of his damned mind.
It is a cliché to say it, but if it wasn’t obvious before listening to The Life of Pablo (and it was obvious) then it certainly is now.
After listening you cannot help but think that Kanye has basically become 30 Rock’s Tracey Morgan without a Jack Donaghy to keep him in check or a Kenneth to moderate his Twitter. No normal mind could go through the fame wringer and come out unchanged, but Kanye was clearly already tapped before he rose up the ranks and has somehow come out of the other end without having to answer to anyone except his own delusions. And the man is clearly deluded on almost everything at this point.
The best way to explain The Life of Pablo is that it is the most ‘Kanye West’ album he has done. It is dense, it is all over the place, it is infuriating, it is constantly surprising, it is misogynistic, it has some of the best beat work and production you are likely to hear on a hip-hop record with some of the oddest musical misdirection that will either bring you joy or make you want to punch something. To put it bluntly, The Life of Pablo is incredible, but it isn’t always good.
It has lyrics that go between self aware to self aggrandising with no gaps in between and themes are established and then abandoned in favour of some utterly bizarre freestyle tracks and it becomes incredibly clear that the album could have done with Liz Lemon running in screaming “shut it down”. But it has to be said, part of the thrill of the album is how close it comes to collapsing on itself.
But the spectacle and golden moments of musicianship will never be enough to forgive the outright misogyny that rears it’s ugly head once again on a Kanye record. Whilst being far from musics worst offender, the same ‘gold digga’ themes return starting with THAT Taylor Swift lyric and building up over the album to encompass any woman who has slept with Kanye or ever wanted to because, clearly, all women want is money and are not above using their children as a ‘meal ticket’.
But only a thoroughly demented, unrestrained weirdo could make an album like this that will excite and thrill the listener who is capable of stepping back and and enjoying the clusterfuck that is the Kanye West Show, of which Pablo is not the best chapter but it will still be one of the most fascinating and best albums released this year.
But probably not for the reasons West would want it to be.
4 / 5