It’s finally here. After three years, four titles, and about a dozen tracklists, we’ve finally got what Kanye claims is one of the best albums of all time. But does it live up to all that hype? Here’s my two cents on The Life of Pablo.

1 . ULTRALIGHT BEAM feat. Kirk Franklin, The-Dream, Kelly Price, and Chance the RapperRight off the bat, we’ve got one of the best songs I’ve ever heard. The vocals are heavenly, pleading, desperate, while the beat is lonely and solemn. It follows in the same vein of MBDTF’s “Dark Fantasy”, but is decidedly less boastful. Chance the Rapper delivers what might be his best verse ever, and the guest vocals from The-Dream and Kelly Price are beautiful. A+

2. FATHER STRETCH MY HANDS PT 1 feat. Kid Cudi

Pretty solid. I’ve always been fascinated by what happens when Kanye and Metro Boomin work together on a song. It usually turns out a lot better than one would expect. This one definitely features a few trademarks of the two. It’s an interesting trap-soul track wherein Kanye laments not wanting to get bleach from Amber Rose’s anus on his t-shirt. I laughed my ass off when I heard that the first time. Still, the song feels like a significant step down from the opener. B+

3. FATHER STRETCH MY HANDS PT 2 feat. Desiigner 

I think I enjoy this one better, but it’s kind of weird. Apparently, Desiigner’s part is taken from a whole different song? It just doesn’t really fit. And the song ends with two other samples, so this song sort of plays out like a really solid Kanye song interpolated with a ton of unnecessary samples. B-

4. FAMOUS feat. Rihanna

This song contains the already infamous “I made that bitch famous” line (referring to Taylor Swift, who was literally accepting a VMA at the event that supposedly made her famous). Aside from that, though, it’s kind of amazing. Rihanna has been blowing people away recently, with a series of killer features and her spectacular new album ANTI. Her hook on this track is another stunning moment of artistry from the pop star. Kanye’s bars are fun and floaty, the samples work together much better than they did on “Pt. 2”, and Swizz Beatz peppers the song with ad-libs that are actually pretty enjoyable. A

5. FEEDBACK

This is the first solo track on the album, and while it certainly doesn’t feel out-of-place, I do think it would be a much better fit if it were on Yeezus. It sounds and feels and acts exactly like any song on Yeezus does. Probably the weakest song on the album so far. C+

6. LOW LIGHTS 

This is where the gospel element of the album comes back into play. Serving mainly as an intro to “Highlights”, the song features a sermon by Sandy Rivera over a cool piano-and-synth beat. I don’t really consider it a song, but it certainly adds atmosphere well. B-

7. HIGHLIGHTS feat. Young Thug

Hype for this song has been building ever since Be El Be claimed that he was “pretty sure” Thugger was on the album. This one’s beat is a bit of a Graduation throwback, with soaring synths, gratuitous Autotune, and cool drums. On the one hand, it features The-Dream and El DeBarge. On the other, it contains lines like “Sometimes I’m wishing that my dick had a GoPro”. This dichotomy of brag rap and gospel is a common theme throughout the album. A-, because the outro is underwhelming.

8. FREESTYLE 4 feat. Desiigner

On a casual listen, this could be misinterpreted as another brag rap, but it’s definitely more sinister than that. It sounds like a trap horror movie. It represents an erratic, uncontrollable, heavily intoxicated side of Kanye, a brand new side of Kanye that reflects both his vulnerability and his grandiosity. One of the conceptual highlights of the album, but not all that impressive a song on its own. B

9. I LOVE KANYE

This one seems to be just for find. It is really fun, though. It’s a beatless 45-second verse mocking those who say they “miss the old Kanye” and poking fun at his public persona. It’s just a really fun track, even though once again, it doesn’t really qualify as a song. B+

10. WAVES feat. Chris Brown

This whole album was delayed a day because Chance the Rapper demanded this song be on it. Is the world better because of it? Maybe not, but the album probably is. It has one of the most interesting beats I’ve ever heard, and it grounds the album back in its increasingly-decent gospel roots. It’s inspirational, catchy, and beautiful. A

11. FML feat. the Weeknd

The truth is, while certain parts of this album feel more underwhelming and messy than others, there’s always an amazing song at the center. “FML” is a pretty solid contender for best song on the album, with its unique beat and bittersweet lyrics. The first two acts of the song are great enough, but it caps off with an exceptionally odd outro with Section 25. It’s unlike anything I’ve heard before. A

12. REAL FRIENDS feat. Ty Dolla $ign

This one’s been talked about to death already, but man, what a great song. It sounds great, it feels great, it’s really lyrically and rhythmically interesting. It makes you wait on the edge of your seat for every new observation. It’s a melancholy masterpiece. A+

13. WOLVES feat. Frank Ocean

This song concludes the album’s narrative, so while there are other tracks on the album and I do intend to cover them, this could be considered the “end” of The Life of Pablo. And what a way to go out. Yeezy managed to bring Frank Ocean back from the dead for this outro, which casts Kanye as a sinner who fell from grace and also as Joseph, so…? I think the wolves represent Kanye’s inner demons and he’s talking about his own inner turmoil about whether he’s righteous. It ends with him throwing aside these debates in order to protect North and Saint, followed by Frank’s heavy metaphorical closer about how trapped one can feel by the “wolves”. A

14. SILVER SURFER INTERMISSION feat. Max B

This transition between the heavy content of the album and the lighter fare of the coming tracks is a phone call from Max B to Kanye West. Wiz Khalifa recently called Kanye out for appropriating Max B’s “wavy” mantra by calling his album WAVES. While the titled has since been changed, it seems that Max has taken Kanye’s side in the beef. All in all, not a song, not very interesting. I understand its importance as a bookend to Wiz and Kanye’s beef, but it could just as easily have been shortened and tacked on to the end of the “FACTS” remix. D

15. 30 HOURS feat. Andre 3000

What long-awaited hip hop album would be complete without a lazy Andre 3000 cameo? The song itself is a pretty chill bonus track about an old pre-fame girlfriend of ‘Ye’s. The outro features Kanye just shouting people out for a while while 3 Stacks repeats the phrase “30 hours”. I can’t hate this song. B

16. NO MORE PARTIES IN LA feat. Kendrick Lamar

A lot less serious than most of the better songs on Life of Pablo, but “No More Parties in LA” is still one of the best. It’s straight bars from Kendrick, it’s straight bars from ‘Ye, it’s a really cool beat from Madlib, and it all comes together beautifully. I just love this song so much. A+

17. FACTS (Charlie Heat Version)

I think we all agree that “FACTS” is kind of a shitty song. But how does it fit in the context of the album? Well, the beat from Charlie Heat makes it seem less like a Drake rip-off and more like a jocular parody. On the back end of an album with very little rapping on it, the verses are kind of refreshing. But yeah, it’s still trash. C

18. FADE feat. Ty Dolla $ign and Post Malone

Once again, I totally get why this song was left off the album. It’s too much of a carefree banger to really fit into a gospel album. But damn. It’s so good. It’s ridiculously catchy, has a really impressive beat, uses Ty and Post the way they’re meant to be used, and it’s just so gosh darn fun. A

So overall, is it Kanye’s best album? Well, maybe. It’s definitely Kanye’s most conceptually interesting album, and it has enough A’s to make it a top contender for best. The songs mostly fit together really well, aside from the occasional bad apple. Overall, I think I’d give the album an A. I’ll need to let it digest for a few months before I have a full ruling on how it fits into the Kanye canon (the CanYe).

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