Album Review: “Name one genius who isn’t crazy”

“Name one genius who isn’t crazy,” a quote from a Kanye West tweet days before the release of his 7th studio Album “The Life of Pablo” (TLOP). The release of “TLOP” caused much controversy and confusion. As an important face of music Kanye West began a lot of stir on social media as he came to twitter to announce that he would be releasing a 7th studio album. For most, this album has been long overdue since the release of his 6th studio album in 2013, Yeezus, which did not receive the same feedback as his past album discography.

Throughout his career Kanye West has never been more vocal about his thoughts, or the ideas he has for the future until recently. He used Twitter as he outlet to help his fans understand the goals and intentions he had, not only for the album but also for his career and what he hopes to achieve. He achieved this with tweets about countless name changes, hints of features, and the prolonged release date. Both GOOD Music and Def Jam Recordings released “TLPO” on February 14th, 2016.

After cycling through three different titles and missing three self-set deadlines, West finally posted “The Life of Pablo” on the music streaming service Tidal. Later that day, he disabled the album from being purchased allowing it to be streamed only. With much backlash from this decision, Kanye went to Twitter to express that the album was not yet finished and that it will only be purchasable after he has made all of the necessary changes. The album featured 18 songs in length and had several anticipated collaborations.

Rihanna’s turn on “Famous” joins “FourFiveSeconds” near the top of her vocal résumé; Chris Brown has never sounded better than he does on “Waves”—”Waves don’t die” is a line that ends up taking on some kind of mystical profundity with repeated listening—; Frank Ocean emerges from the wilderness to provide the last 30 seconds of “Wolves,” a dose of analog warmth on the album; Ty Dolla $ign makes a perfect foil for West on “Real Friends,” playing his grainy, tired alter ego; and Chance the Rapper outshines them all by turning in the verse of his life on “Ultralight Beam”: it’s proud, agile, and deeply felt—his emergence as West’s spiritual successor is probably the album’s most interesting development.

He builds on “My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy’s” cluttered art-pop sunbeams with the “Father Stretch My Hands” suite and the stuttering, beatific “Waves,” which might be the most beautiful song he’s ever made. “The Life of Pablo” is his first album that sounds thrown together for the sake of satisfying the eager public for all of his allusions to gospel music and religious history on songs like “Ultralight Beam” and “Low Lights”.

Adding to this the confusing and prolonged release of “TLOP,” West has done little to no press. Instead he choose to speak for himself on Twitter, one aggressive and ultimately confusing stream of consciousness at a time. This has made it almost impossible to separate the artist from the art and the performer from the person. Yet, if we are to look closely at “TLOP,” it appears that Kanye is struggling to make the distinction as well. Arguably, the release of the album could be considered performance art. Kanye may be attempting to exhibit the complicated relationship between artist and their work, and the effect of the media on their creative process. “TLOP” is the first album he has put out since he had kids, married, and started his own fashion line. This album is about the life of Kanye as a father, husband, and businessman.

Finished or not, “The Life of Pablo” is a challenging album that pushes those who consume it to dig into its depths for answers, even if none of it makes any sense.

To listen to his album, you can go to Soundcloud here.