Context – getting pwned in LoL
You know, cause it’s Saturday.
I don’t know where to put this album. It’s a roller-coaster right from the gate, testing my patience and moving quite slowly at first, but as it gains momentum it turns into one of the most surprising album of Kanye’s career. This album rewards you for your patience and commitment to the cause with some of Kanye’s best work.
“No More Parties in LA” is fucking fly. Fucking fly indeed. I didn’t know how much I needed Kanye and Kendrick to be on a track together until right now, but having heard how great that can be I want more, dammit.
And “I Love Kanye” gives me so much hope for the future, where he demonstrates his ability to be self-aware of his meme-status. Kanye knows what he’s doing as a musician, as a lyricist, as a persona. He’s putting forward “the best” version of himself, and we just have to live with it.
But those early tracks couldn’t be less exciting. This is the most disappointing aspect of the album, especially coming from how tight and compact Yeezus was. The Life of Pablo is well over an hour long, and I can find at least 15 minutes worth of material to cut from this. And 15 minutes is a long time.
I understand that he’s crafting a narrative of sorts here in a loose thematic way, at least. Once again my lack of reading the lyrics has me questioning how much work I need to put into these albums to better understand their archs, or if Kanye hopes the handful of references to Pablo and occasional skit will carry this into concept album territory.
All that being said, even Kanye’s least exciting albums are still better than a lot of rap music being made today. I would say most rap ever, but what do I know? This is better than that Migos album that dropped last month, this is better than Big Sean’s album; this is better than a lot of non-rap music as well. I love Kanye almost as much as Kanye loves Kanye. Almost.
So after an initial pass through, I would rank Kanye’s albums as follows:
- My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy
- The College Dropout
- 808s & Heartbreaks
- Watch the Throne
- The Life of Pablo
- Late Registration
This list has a few biases: A) I already had preconceived notions of all of Ye’s albums except Yeezus and The Life of Pablo, or at least knew a few tracks off the albums going into the review; B) Nicki’s verse on “Monster” may very well be what carries MBDTF into the #1 spot, it’s that good; C) As such, I could see both Yeezus and The Life of Pablo climbing up the ranks upon subsequent listens as these biases lesson their hold over my sway (is that the saying?).
Really the top 3 albums could be more or less interchangeable depending on my mood. I could also see Pablo and 808s switch places, mostly because I think the auto-tune ruins an otherwise wonderful album. Graduation and Late Registration are still great, but feel like proof of concept as he transitions out of his default production style. I will always have a soft spot for “Gold Digger” and “Jesus Walks” though.
That was fun, team.