Sup y’all, here to give ya the review of the long-awaited seventh studio album by Kanye West titled So Help Me God, SWISH, Waves, The Life of Pablo.
Lord, many changes. Many delays. Many fuckery. Also many doubts and many high expectations. Personally, Kanye is one of my favorite rappers of all time, but lately I feel like the man has been giving us dud after dud, which started to make me wonder if he was…. washed. I mean, he gave us the polarizing album Yeezus, which I did not enjoy. We had that terrible track dedicated to Kim K titled “Awesome”, the very weak track “Facts” and arguably the most “wtf lol” feature of 2015 with his verse on “Jukebox Joints”. There were many other duds questionable moves made by Kanye since the release of his last album. But he did gives us that “Smuckers” verse last year on Tyler, The Creator’s last project earlier, and more recently he did drop two quality tracks (“Real Friends”, “No More Parties In L.A.”) before the release of this album. So is there hope? Does Kanye still have it in him to give us what the fans want? Let’s see.
1. Ultralight Beam Featuring Chance the Rapper, Kirk Franklin, The-Dream, Kelly Price, Natalie Green, & Samoria Green; Produced by Kanye West, Dereck Watkins, Rick Rubin, Noah Goldstein, & Plain Pat
This man is really preaching with a choir doing background vocals. Sounds great, and The-Dream adds in some great vocals right before Kelly Price comes in with a stunning feature and a lot of soul. Shoutout to Kelly Price man. She sang her heart out.
And my man Chance gave a great verse.
I made Sunday Candy, I’m never going to hell I met Kanye West, I’m never going to fail
I really just want to quote this man’s entire verse. Glad to see him go from 10 Day to doing features with Gambino all the way to being featured on the opening track of a Kanye West album. Big ups.
And the man Kirk Franklin just preaching. Preaching hard. I ain’t religious at all, but I gotta thank the big homie on the cloud real quick for this track here. Great. Stunning. Beautiful. Amazing way to start off the album.
2. Father Stretch My Hands Pt. 1 Featuring Kid Cudi; Produced by Kanye West, Metro Boomin’, Rick Rubin, & Mike Dean
If young Metro don’t trust you I’m gon’ shoot you
I’m about to have the entire church dabbing to this shit man. Black Jesus himself will rise up just to bump this shit with us.
All that shit aside, that bleached asshole line is a huge pause for me. But man, this shit is great. Kid Cudi mumbling for a couple seconds on this shit is better than Kid Cudi trying on his own shit for the past 5 years. Haven’t heard Cudi vocals sound this good since My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy.
I’m not a big fan of Auto-Tuned Kanye, but it doesn’t bother me on this track. I really wish this shit was longer man. Really enjoyed this track. Lots of replay value from me.
3. Pt. 2 Featuring Designer & Caroline Shaw; Produced by Kanye West, Metro Boomin’, Rick Rubin, Mike Dean & Menace Second part of the last track. Not as good as the first for me, but it bangs.
Up in the morning Miss you so bad Sorry that I ain’t call you back The same problems my father had All his time All he had All he had In what what he dreamed
I dig Kanye’s lyrics on this track, but the Auto-Tune kinda kills it for me. And this guy Desiigner… it’s pretty much when you want Future on your album, but you don’t wanna spend Future money. Nah, his contributions are pretty solid, it’s really just Kanye putting a spin on his track “Panda”. Nice of him to put dude on. This track overall though, it bangs, but it’s not that special for me.
4. Famous Featuring Rihanna & Swizz Beatz; Produced by Kanye West, Noah Goldstein, Havoc, & Charlie Heat This is one of the rare moments where Swizz Beatz shouting all over the track doesn’t make me wanna choke slam him. That man still needs to calm his ass down a bit though. I really like this track though. The beat for the hook or whatever is sweet and sugary and Rihanna’s vocals sound good on it. The beat switch for Kanye’s verses requires an all black hoodie and a torch in hand. Gave me those “Run This Town” vibes for some reason, not sure what it was specifically. But I dig this track a lot. That last beat switch about halfway through is wild as hell.
Sidenote: That Taylor Swift line will forever be ignorant and hilarious.
5. Feedback Produced by Kanye West, Charlie Heat, Plain Pat, & Mike Dean This is some Yeezus shit. Kanye’s flow on this is tight though and I dig a couple lines one here.
I know, I know, I shouldn’t even bother With all these gossiping, no pussy-getting bloggers
Damn Ye, just gonna air me like that?
Fashion show in Gotham, I need another costume PETA’s mad cause I made a jacket outta possum Awesome, Steve Jobs mixed with Steve Austin Rich slave in the fabric store picking cotton If Hov J then every Jordan need Rodman Man, J, they don’t really want no problems
Good job Kanye. Good job.
I enjoy shit like weird and experimental groups like Clipping, but this beat after a while will probably annoy the hell out of me. That aside, this is a pretty solid track.
That Ghetto Oprah skit is hilarious too. Weird that he’d put that right after that line about the having ya hands up and the cops shooting. But fuck it right? It’s Kanye. Slide me a fur coat and a jet too.
6. Low Lights Produced by Kanye West & DJ Dodger Stadium Who is this woman? For a moment I thought it was Beyoncé, but I’m sure it’s not her. Anyways, this is a nice little skit to lead into the next track coming up. I like the moody piano keys in the back and the bouncing bass. It’s coo.
7. Highlights Featuring Young Thug, El DeBarge, & The-Dream; Produced by Kanye West, Velous, Mike Dean, & Southside Okay, love the production on this track. Love Young Thug’s backing vocals. The-Dream is utilized great here, but Kanye’s Auto-Tune on this shit? Meh. I actually wish there was more Young Thug on this.
Kanye’s verses are hilarious though. From the Ray J line to the Diddy line I was dying. That line about wishing his dick had a GoPro so he could play it back in slow motion gave me a chuckle too.
Don’t see why the last track wasn’t just attached to this one, because a lot of the tracks prior to this have been under 2 minutes. But whatever, not in love with this track, but I dig this shit. It’s fun.
8. Freestyle 4 Featuring Desiigner; Produced by Kanye West, Hudson Mohawke, Mike Dean, & Noah Goldstein When I first heard this track and the beat, I was hoping it was gonna sample that Madlib track “A.V.E.R.A.G.E”, but sadly it doesn’t and sadly I don’t really care this track. It’s amusing, but feels really unnecessary within this album. And then we have Desiigner coming in again and he doesn’t too bad on this. But I just don’t really care for it.
9. I Love Kanye Produced by Kanye West Cute little skit Kanye. Basically just throwing shots at fans who keep complaining about the “new Kanye”. I won’t be jumping to listen to this shit, but I won’t skip it if it comes on. I like it a lot; cool that he decided to address this in some way.
10. Waves Featuring Chris Brown; Produced by Kanye West, Charlie Heat, Anthony Kilhoffer, & Hudson Mohawke This the track that put the album on hold? This shit here? THIS SHIT RIGHT HERE? I could’ve done without this man. I mean, Chris Brown’s vocals on this are fine, but the production doesn’t move me really besides when the beat drops. Kanye’s little spot of vocals on this track don’t do anything for me either. This honestly just feels like a leftover Chris Brown track that Kanye produced well. Not bad or terrible. I just could’ve done without it.
11. FML Featuring The Weeknd; Produced by Kanye West, Mitus, Noah Goldstein, & Metro Boomin’ This track has a slow start, but when it hits it hits pretty damn good. Kanye’s singing on this track doesn’t really bother me either. And the subject matter is deeper than a handful of tracks we’ve ran through on this album so far. The Weeknd’s feature on this is solid too. Perfect fit. That’s one thing I can say that’s been consistently good on this album: The features. Also, I really dig that beat switch towards the end of this track. A lot of the little beat arrangements and changes on this album have been really solid. I’m really liking this track.
12. Real Friends Featuring Ty Dolla $ign; Produced by Kanye West, Boi-1da, Frank Dukes, & Havoc Love it. Love it, love it, love it. In subject matter, this is easily the deepest track on the entire album. This feels like vintage Kanye. No brags, just rapping about his imperfections over a beat that’s simple yet very melodic. Love Ty Dolla $ign’s feature on this; his vocal performance on this track is well done and adds to the quality. That line about having to buy back his laptop from his own cousin still hits me (tears).
Pretty sure a couple of us can relate to being deadbeat cousins haha.
13. Wolves Featuring Frank Ocean & Carolina Shaw; Produced by Kaye West, Cashmere Cat, Sinjin Hawke, Mike Dean, & Carolina Shaw Man… people have been waiting for the CD quality of this track for so long. Now we have it. Love the production on this track. Where the hell is Sia though? C’mon Ye… and Vic Mensa… he really sacrificed that man to bring the ghost of Frank Ocean out of limbo. Incredible. But honestly…*drumroll*… this track isn’t that amazing to me. I’ve seen that a lot of people are in love with this track and I can understand why, but it just doesn’t really resonate with me like that. Kanye’s Auto-Tuned vocals bore me over this production and his verse is okay I guess, but that’s just pretty much how I feel about this track as a whole. It’s okay I guess. But the production is great and it’s nice to have the lingering spirit of Frank Ocean pop in to bless us though.
14. Silver Surfer Intermission Featuring Max B & French Montana; Produced by Kanye West Did we need this? I mean, no offense to Max B, free that man, but did we really need this right here? I guess maybe if you put this right before, after, or even attached to the track “Waves” then this would’ve made a bit more sense, or maybe if this album was actually titled “Waves” then this would’ve made a little bit of sense. But this phone call skit just feels pretty damn unnecessary on this album now. Nice to hear from Max B though, glad he’s doing good.
15. 30 Hours Featuring André 3000; Produced by Karin Riggins, Mike Dean, & Kanye West Love this shit. Shoutout to Karriem Riggins over at Stones Throw! Love the smooth production, especially how that bass bubbles in the background. Seems like something I drive around listening to on a cloudy or rainy day. Subject matter is just basically Kanye talking about how he used to drive 30 hours to see this girl (Probably Sumeke Rainey) back in the day when he was trying to breakout into the game. Very solid track.
But I swear man, when I heard “3 Stacks can you help me out?” I thought this man was gonna spit a verse. But nope. Just spitting two words over and over again for the backing vocals. Know what that is? Just licking the tip. The handjob moment of this entire album.
16. No More Parties In L.A. Featuring Kendrick Lamar; Produced by Madlib & Kanye West What can I say about this man… I loved it when I first heard it and I still love it. Kendrick’s verse is great and rather “romantic”. Kanye’s verse is spotty in its flow at points, but his verse is still great as well. For years I wanted Madlib to collab with Kanye or Kendrick. I got both those wishes all in one package and it didn’t let me down.
She said she came out here to find an A-list rapper I said baby spin around and say the alphabet backwards You’re dealing with malpractice, don’t kill a good niggas confidence Just cause he a nerd and you don’t know what a condom is
For all my niggas with babies by bitches That use they kids as meal tickets Not knowing the disconnect from the father The next generation will be the real victims I can’t fault ’em really
Love it. Definitely a highlight on the album and one of my favorites.
17. Facts (Charlie Heat Version) Produced Kanye West, Metro Boomin’, Southside, & Mike Dean Bruh… what in the entire fuck. Crazy how a simple beat change can turn a trash song into a dope one. I told myself I wasn’t gonna listen to this shit ever again after giving it a couple listens when it dropped. But this new version… I can dig. I don’t give a single fuck about the accuracy within the temper tantrum this man is throwing at Nike to be honest, but I’m pretty sure Nike was doing fine before Drake and yes, Bill Cosby did forget the names just like Steve Harvey. Track is hard. I can let some of the ridiculous lines go over my head and dig this version.
18. Fade Featuring Post Malone & Ty Dolla $ign; Produced by Kanye West, Anthony Kilhoffer, Charlie Handsome, & Mike Dean Another track that was previewed had huge anticipation and hype. Glad we have it now. Honestly though, the track is track is alright to me. Ty Dolla $ign is fine on it, Kanye…doesn’t really do much here. Honestly didn’t even know he was on the track on the first few listens. Post Malone… dude comes in sounding like Doodlebob, but he ain’t terrible. I really dig the beat change that comes in about 2 minutes into the track though. This is kind of weird as a closing track for me honestly, but I guess it gets the job done.
There’s a lot of unnecessary moments on this shit. Especially towards the middle of the album. The album is an array of different sounds. Okay, let me be a little more blunt. This album is a kind of a mess, BUT I do feel like it’s a COHESIVE mess. The different sounds of each song do fit well together, that in a way, creates a piece of art filled with a bunch different colors. It ain’t no Pablo Picasso painting though (I’m aware Kanye’s “Pablo” is actually Saint Paul the Apostle lol).
I’ve seen some people try to relate this to The White Album by The Beatles or Physical Graffiti by Led Zeppelin for Kanye’s discography. And to those people I say, NO. Those two albums had consistently good songs that felt necessary back to back despite being “messy” or lacking in cohesion. This doesn’t, and it’s hard to make think differently given the fact that before the album was released the man was just changing the tracklisting over and over and over again adding or subtracting a new song every few days. This album isn’t some near gorgeous or flawless painting. It’s no My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy or Late Registration.
Honestly, with the quality of music Kanye has been giving us post Yeezus… this album is better than I expected it to be. It’s not what I wanted and it could’ve been better, but I can’t say that it disappointed me. I was excited, but my expectations were never really that high or too low to begin with. Just neutral. The high moments on this thing are very high, but the lower moments just feel so unnecessary or a little half-assed, despite having a good or even great sound, and it just sort of brings the album down as a whole for me.
Features are pretty solid. Production is pretty damn good. Project is just a bunch of gumbo though. Is this the album of life? Nah. Is this gonna be the album of the year for me? Probably not. Is this a top 3 Kanye album? HELL NO. But is it better than Yeezus? Yep. Is that enough for you? You decide. Peace.
Shoutout to my boy Steven, Herbie Hancock, Kendrick Lamar, Nate Parker, Don Cheadle, Chance The Rapper, and Daveed Diggs.