So Help Me God Swish Waves The Life of Pablo could have à la Beyoncé dropped at any moment over the last year and a half. That was torturous for Kanye stans of all creeds and cultures, whose productivity during this time frame suffered a massive blow in favor of visits to Reddit and the poisonous Kanye To The forum for any release date rumor or maybe even a leaked song snippet. To make matters worse, Kanye released some of his weakest, most directionless songs during this time, and he was also busy marrying a Kardashian, having two kids, and creating the year’s most successful shoe. LP 7 was doomed.
Then on February 11, Kanye debuted the album hand in hand with his new Adidas line at Madison Square Garden, and the hyper-paranoid skeptical fanbase sighed and cried in unison as the gorgeous “Ultralight Beam,” an ode to acceptance and forgiveness, immediately reasserted what’s been proven time after time: you never doubt Kanye West.
The Life of Pablo builds off of the musical strides made by those Kanye creatively fathered. It’s only fitting that the album’s most important guest spot goes to his Chicago heir, Chance, whose influence beyond his own verse is clearly heard in “Ultralight Beam,” with soft heartwarming sung lines like “Pray for Paris, pray for the parents,” and Donnie Trumpet’s horns that shadow Chano no matter where he finds himself. But Kanye still does what Kanye West does and turns The-Dream and Kelly Price into gospel singers, and gets a career best verse out of Chance. Without Kanye, there is no Chance The Rapper, but without Chance, there is no “Ultralight Beam.”
Some critics will label Pablo a glaring weak link in Kanye’s discography. They’ll say it lacks a cohesive narrative to follow, and a lot of people can’t see past that, and to some degree they’d be right. Kanye didn’t cheat death, lose a parent, or crash Taylor Swift’s acceptance speech this year; he’s happy, and doesn’t really have much new to say. Yet he was still able to produce an incredibly fresh piece of music, a meticulous career culmination that’ll boost collaborators’ careers, and it’s a hell of a victory lap.
Listen here or here. Image from here.