Release Date: February 14, 2016
Label: Def Jam/G.O.O.D. Music
Length: 20 tracks, 1h6m
Background: as per usual, kanye's seventh full length lp was a masterpiece. described initially as a "gospel album with a lot of cursing", The Life of Pablo (tlop) is about exactly that: kanye's life. in the over hour runtime of the album, kanye covers his life as a celecrity, his life life as a christian, his life as an artist, and how those three elements mix and shape him as a person. there were some major thematic changes made to this album during the process of recording and such, including title changes from "Swish" to "Waves" and, eventually, to the official title. there are seven main versions of this album, each containing differences in mixing and some in song structure and tracklist. for all intensive purposes, i will be covering the current version of the album which is available on streaming services. the album's rollout was similarly turbulent to kanye's life at the time of its release, when he cancelled half of the shows on the Saint Pablo Tour as a result of his hospitalization due to a mental breakdown which was attributed to his diagnosis with bipolar depression. i'm actually still pissed that he cancelled the show on the tour that i had tickets to, but that's neither here nor there. the album was also initially only available on Tidal, but then was released on Apple Music and Spotify at a later date. the result is nothing short of a masterpiece, and my personal favorite kanye album.
1. Ultralight Beam
- kanye is a master of intro tracks. his intros always grab your attention and set the tone of the album very well, and that remains true on this track. the production is top tier, featuring pulsating synth chords and gospel style drums. the features on this album are unlisted, but they include Pastor Kirk Franklin & choir, Kelly Price, the dream, and most notably Chance the Rapper's best verse. perfect intro that really grabs your attention and sets the tone for the album well.
2. FSMH pt. 1
- certainly one of the most popular songs off of this album. metro's production here is standout and kid cudi's chorus is very suiting and goes over really well with the vibe of the song. the only things that i can really say i don't enjoy about this song are the fact that kanye only has one verse and the infamous "bleached asshole" line, but the former bothers me much more than the latter. overall, this song is still very strong, and is deserving of all the exposure that it gets.
3. Pt. 2
- this was the absolute last thing that i expected as the follow-up to FSMH pt. 1. this song is essentially a very brief panda remix, which i do not love personally but which makes sense given that desiigner had signed to g.o.o.d. music around the time of the album's release. i think the verses are very potent lyrically, but at the same time i feel that there could be a much better canvas for them than panda.
- this was initially my favorite song on the album upon its release. the synth on the beat is ear piercing and it gets stuck in your head. the lyrics are open and bold as expected, which makes appropriate reference to kanye's life and conduct as a celebrity. the beat switch and flip of Bam Bam by Sister Nancy serve as one of the best outros in kanye's discography and a great wrap-up to a great song.
- the instrumental of this track will always be an earworm for me. definitely a strange sounding track for kanye to throw all the criticism he receives back in the face of the media on, but it works so i guess i can't complain. this track is very catchy and although i'll never get why he decided to put this messaging on this beat, it's exectued well. the beat switch towards the end freshens things up and saves this track from falling out of memory. definitely a track where kanye comes off very outspoken and manic as well.
- there's not an incredible amount to say about this song. kanye isn't even on it so it by default gets the lowest rating on the album, but it fits the "gospel" part of the album.
- the vocals on this track are the epitome of manic. thug's feature here definitely contributes to that. sex bars aren't kanye's strong suit, but this one was pretty funny if nothing else. the song is cohesive and sonically solid.
8. Freestyle 4
- the synths on this song borderline pierce your eardrums. the production is hazy, and if i had to compare the sound to something it would be trying to go to bed with the spins. that doesn't sound too appealing (because it isn't) but the lyrics are some of the most interesting on the album and desiigner's feature wraps up the song nicely.
9. I Love Kanye
- i'll start this off by saying that DJ Premier's remix of this track is awesome, i recommend checking it out if you haven't already. i think this was a good way to address the "old kanye vs. new kanye" debate that many fans still have, i just wish he would've done it with an instrumental backing. however, the lack of an instrumental makes it more memorable in a way. although it's not typical, this is still technically music because it has cadence, so it gets a score either way.
- definitely one of the most unique songs on the album. it sounds just as uplifting as the lyrics are, and the result is a sonic manifestation of one of kanye's manic highs. i've always had a thing for the drums on this track, not sure why. despite what i think of chris brown, he delivers an awesome chorus and the end result is a very positive sounding track.
- this is a very telling track, one of two on the album that deal with kanye's outlook on life going forward. the instrumental was originally intended to end up on travis scott's Birds in the Trap Sing McKnight, and i think it would have fit well there but it goes perfectly on this album as well. the weeknd's feature here is touching, and the dark sound of the songs fits well on the grave outlook that kanye has on the current state of his life on the track and how he wants to be better for himself and his family going forward. the distorted vocals on the outro further this message, and this ends up being one of the best songs on the album.
12. Real Friends
- this track really delves into one of the negative parts of fame, all the people who want to be around you for the wrong reasons. although none of us are celebrities, i feel like this is a track that we can all relate to. it's done in a pretty comical way, and the line about kanye's laptop stands out as one of the funniest lines in his discography while actually fitting into the context of the song well.
- kanye has referred to this track as the theme music for his life since the release of the album even into the JIK era. the instrumental is chilling and sets a great background for the topics discussed on the track. the only parts about this track that i don't like are the sandwich line because it feels out of place and the repetition of the line about unfollowing and unswallowing. great track otherwise.
14. Frank's Track
- initially included as an intro to Wolves and added as a separate track after the first update to the mix of the album post-release, this song has always been a bit of a headscratcher to me. i feel like it was better served as a part of Wolves, and would be best as an outro. hard to give it a rating as its own song, but being that its essentially an extension of Wolves i feel inclined to give it a similar rating.
15. Siiiiiiiiilver Surffffeeeeer Intermission
- definitely one of the funnier skits in kanye's discog. it's become iconic and is definitely a memorable part of this album's playthrough. that being said, it really isn't music, it's just a voicemail and i'm not here to give my shitty opinion on voicemails so i can't really give this a numerical rating. it's a great skit though.
16. 30 Hours
- this song is one of the more slept on songs on the album, and definitely one of my favorites. the driving production here goes over very well. andré 3000 on the harmonies towards the end of the track is an s-tier feature, as much as i wish he would have dropped a verse. feels oddly personal and comical with the impromptu spoken outro, and "that's gabe callin'" gets a chuckle out of me every time i listen to this track to this day.
17. No More Parties in LA
- madlib production here is great. great subject matter on the track and a real return to the "old kanye" in the best way possible. kendrick drops a hot verse as per usual, and kanye reminds us that he's still got the capacity to go bar for bar with the best in the game. standout track overall.
18. Facts (Charlie Heat Version)
- this song is way better than the version that was initially released. the production here is also great, and the energy that kanye brings on this track is awesome and gets you fired up. not sure if yeezy really jumped over jumpman, but the song is good regardless.
- the bass line on this song is filthy (not to be confused with F1LTHY ) even with the 5 year anniversary of the album coming up. not too crazy about the way the vocals are mixed, but post malone's quick feature at the end of the song breathes life back into this song before the instrumental overstays its welcome.
20. Saint Pablo
- one of kanye's best outro tracks. the introspective nature of the lyrics really hits home. i might be a bit biased because this song came out during a really tough time in my life, but i think that this is nothing short of a masterpiece. in terms of stand-alone tracks outside of the context of the album (where i think bound 2 is superior), this is kanye's best outro and it closes the album just as strong as it started. sampha's feature is perfect and i think it wraps up the album far better than fade did on the first release.
Afterthoughts: this album is as clear of a picture of the nature of kanye's bipolar disorder as exists in regards to music. i say this because it's much more expansive and general than ye, which focuses more on the dark side of the disease; i feel like that makes this a very interesting album as a whole. although there are tracks on this project that i do not love, none of them are bad and the ones that i love are top tier. a good amount of my favorite kanye tracks come from this album, probably more so than any other album. i believe that, as manic as it is, this is one of kanye's most consistent solo albums in terms of the quality of individual songs. the tracklist is in poor order to convey the theme of the album (which has been covered extensively and i'm going to omit from this review) but it is there and it is extremely well executed outside of the order of the songs. the features on this album aren't overdone and when they are there, they're high quality. the rating for this album based on the 19 tracks that i gave scores to is just above 8.3, but i feel that the theme of this album and how it unites the songs beyond their individual qualities elevates the album as a whole. had this simply been a collection of songs that stand on their own as individual anecdotes i'd be okay with sticking to the mathematical score, but the concept that this album presents justifies a boost in the rating because it takes these tracks and elevates them to something more than what they are on their own. i consider this to be one of the best concept albums of the past decade, and because of that i give the final version of this album released to the public a 9/10.
Leaked.is user @Sybyr (Noted as the self proclaimed worst author from Leakth.is) had to say this about the album: "It was the only album on my LG G3 phone when i had went back to Egypt to visit family in 2016, and it still holds replay value for me personally after 3 months of constant "WE DON'T WANT NO DEVILS IN THE HOUSE" in my ears."
lucky for you guys, i'm gonna be working on a real article instead of a review next