By Sean Reis
When looking at the paintings of Pablo Picasso, one might say the abstract and distorted art is beautiful. It is equally likely, though, that one might say the paintings feel poorly produced and rushed due to their lack of form.
For many, listening to the latest album by Kanye West brings about synonymous opinions — it is either abstract, raw art or poorly produced music in the sense that it was rapidly thrown together.
Released on Sunday, Feb. 14, West’s seventh studio album, “The Life of Pablo,” allegedly pays homage to the great Cubist artist Picasso, although this notion has yet to be confirmed by Yeezy.
Nevertheless, it sparks quite an obscene question: Does West think he is the Picasso of rap music? It is a question as ridiculous as West’s life and I do not know the answer, nor do I know how I feel about the album.
After listening to “The Life of Pablo” for the first time, I was disappointed. I thought the album was not mastered to West’s skill level. After listening to the album for the second time, however, I began to actually enjoy the album as another left turn from the artist. Nonetheless, after listening even further, I landed at my current conclusion — I do not know how I feel about the album in its entirety, because I honestly love one track and then hate the next.
The opening track, “Ultralight Beam,” is one of my least favorite songs from the album because it feels like the worst parts of West’s 2013 release, “Yeezus,” all over again. West is not the God he thinks he is and if it wasn’t for Chance The Rapper’s verse, “Ultralight Beam” would be my least favorite track on the album.
Like West satirically raps, “I miss the old Kanye / I hate the new Kanye” (Track Nine: “I Love Kanye”), I also miss the old Kanye and hate the new, extremely egotistical Kanye he has become.
To state it simply, “Ultralight Beam” did not feel like the old West music I listened to growing up, but then again, few tracks from “The Life of Pablo” did.
“FML” is one of the tracks that has the essence of the rapper’s old music. The track would fit perfectly on West’s 2010 LP “My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy,” arguably his best studio album. With vocals from The Weeknd, “FML” has potential to be the biggest hit off the album.
Meanwhile, other tracks, like “Feedback” and “Freestyle 4,” seem out of place. “Famous,” featuring Rihanna, is better than most, but by far the best track from “The Life of Pablo” is “No More Parties In LA,” featuring Kendrick Lamar. Unlike “Ultralight Beam,” though, Lamar doesn’t carry the track with his verses like Chance did. All six minutes of this song are on another level.
Unfortunately, “The Life of Pablo” in its entirety is not on another level. Overall, I truly cannot tell you how I felt about the album, but when nearly half the tracks left me disappointed, it is clear “The Life of Pablo” did not live up to usual Kanye West expectations.