Look I haven't written about hip hop in over two months and frankly the state of the industry and music bores me so much. The music being released is corny to me most of the time and the hype of social media is indeed tiresome. Take for instance the early discussion of the new Kanye West album "The Life of Pablo" or TLOP as it trended on twitter. So much of the comments was simple flame emojis or pronouncements that no one should speak ill of the album lest face repercussions. In this climate is it possible to see through the publicity stunts and games and get back to the music itself and be able to be critical and fair? Or is it all a race for the hot take and then as soon as it's given have people jump to attack it instead of absorbing it like they ask you to do with their favorite music? I don't have the answers to those questions but what I have is my review of the first album since 2013 for Kanye.
Point blank, everyone loves the opening track to TLOP, "Ultra Light Beams" which features Chance the Rapper and Kelly Price. The song also features Kirk Franklin. This is the best of Ye though, what happens when everything is going right. Unfortunately, too often his hubris gets in his way and he just puts out whatever and we are supposed to take it as great because he claims it. "Father Stretch My Hands pt. 1" for example. The song features Kid Cudi who does a decent job on the hook but the verse that Kanye drops using auto tune is boring and pointless. The song continues into a 'Part 2" which has some sort of energy in the production and flow but it has the same lazy auto tune usage that isn't needed and it features a Future clone named Desiigner.
"Feedback" isn't bad but it also isn't anything that is so outstanding as to make you forced to listen. It does some halfway decent things in the second half of it but not enough to make up for the lackadaisical beginning. "Highlights" could have been a way more fun song if of course, Kanye didn't use the auto tune and actually tried to do something with his lyrics. I don't listen to Kanye for lazy bars about his dick, I leave that to Lil Wayne and by the time the song gets going I'm already turned off. Chris Brown is featured on "Waves" which has been out for a while but the song would be fine for him, it's boring for me. "FML" with the Weeknd is saved by his vocals to me. Ye's verse about Mexico has some lame and boring jokes.
Rihanna is featured on "Famous" which is now infamous for the Taylor Swift lyrics which were arrogant and unnecessary. The beat is one which knocks and Swizz tries his best to ruin the song but doesn't get it done. The "I Love Kanye" skit/interlude/freestyle had so much potential but Kanye pretty much does the laziest thing possible with the idea and fails. "Freestyle 4" which also has Desiigner is average. I wasn't a fan of "Wolves" when it leaked, and "Real Friends" with Ty Dolla Sign is fine. "Facts" is cool I guess as is "No More Parties in LA" which features Kendrick, but "30 Hours" is the second closest thing to a realistic rap track on the album.
Kanye is capable of making good and even great music unless he is getting in his own way with his ego and attention whoring. Last week's time was wasted with tweeting and nonsense when this album could have been tightened up and a true A and R stepped in to control the direction. The songs are all too short in general and over produced with a bunch of stuff going on that isn't relevant. His lack of dedication to lyrics shows across the album. Just boring and lazy raps when he is doing it and an over reliance on auto tune. This album falls near the bottom of the Kanye catalog for me easily.