Kanye’s latest album, The Life of Pablo, has been reviewed and discussed at length in the almost week since it was made available via Tidal, and not always for good reasons. The music is super well produced, and the featured artists all add wonderful layers to what is a pretty schizophrenic project.
The music is all over the place, as is Kanye when he even decides to rap. TLOP is a hodgepodge of every idea he’s had on nearly every album he’s dropped. It’s gospel in places, ratchet in others; sublime in some, wavy in parts. It is every woman; it’s all in she. It’s got something for everybody, and I wouldn’t be surprised if some people absolutely despised it. Kanye is offensive, misogynistic, uplifting, sad, happy, etc.
As Kanye says on the song “I Love Kanye,” “What if Kanye made a song about Kanye/Called ‘I Miss the Old Kanye’?/Man, that’d be so Kanye … ”
Kanye went full Kanye on TLOP.
I’m still not sure where I land on the “How do you feel about it?” meter. I tend to be more in the “I love it” camp than the “What the f—k am I listening to?” camp. What I do know is that I have listened to it nonstop since I first heard it, which speaks volumes. I’m also a person who is fascinated by production and the creation of each song, and this album is an exercise in collaborative synthesis. As soon as the credits were made available through KanyeWest.com, I read and digested them like I was going to be quizzed on them later. I wanted to know everybody involved in each and every song.
And that’s why I really want Kanye to rerecord his trash verse on “Father Stretch My Hands, Pt. 1.”
The first minute of “Pt. 1” might be the best first minute of a song I’ve heard in at least a decade: from the sample intro to the layering of synths on top of another part of the sample, to “If young Metro don’t trust you, I’m gon’ shoot you,” to the greatest assist man in Kanye West history, Kid Cudi, coming through with the “beautiful morning … ” lines. Even Kanye on the vocoder with his “I just wanna be liberated, I, I, I … ”
It’s really amazing. Between “Ultralight Beam” and “Father Stretch My Hands, Pt. 1,” I actually believe that Kanye was intending to go the ghetto-gospel route; Kirk Franklin even makes an appearance on the former song. Of course, that entire mission falls off the rails as soon as “Famous” starts with its wayward shots at Taylor Swift.
But “Pt. 1” is damn near perfect save for Kanye’s verse. It annoys me. It’s dumb. It’s unnecessarily crass. It reminds me of Kanye’s subject matter on “All of the Lights” from My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy. The music, vocals from no fewer than 15 contributors and arrangement on that song are perfect, and Kanye decides to pen a song about going to jail because of domestic violence issues?
For why, Kanye?
Man, that s—t is so Kanye.
Kanye’s “Pt. 1” verse makes no sense to me. It feels incomplete. Some model he used to f—k knew how to piss him off, but he doesn’t want to talk about it, though he’d be upset if nobody talked about it. But really, he just wants to wake up to her in the morning. Why this is a verse is beyond me. Honestly, I feel like Kanye made a bunch of great music for this album and needed to fill the space, so he just came up with s—t like the verse on “Pt. 1.”
But it could be perfect if Kanye rerecorded his verse. I’m talking Kanye on Late Registration “Diamonds From Sierra Leone” perfect. I’m talking Kanye on the Game’s “Wouldn’t Get Far” perfect. But alas that Kanye is seemingly dead and gone. S—t, at that time, I got to say I’d like to meet Kanye.
Man, I miss the old Kanye.
The old Kanye wouldn’t miss the moment on a song with production as expansive and amazing as “Pt. 1.” He’d try to drop a hot verse that would be clunky in parts—because Kanye—as opposed to a verse his id wrote that he could make sound good with effects and emotion.
I find that this is where I’m at with Kanye these days. I feel like he’s making some great music and leaving everything to be desired lyrically. Maybe he’s lost the passion on that end (no surprise, considering that he seems to have lost the desire for music and replaced it with fashion) but realizes that music is his bread and butter and he’s still one of the greatest producers to ever hit the genre. Maybe he’s just concerned about the art of it all, which seems like a plausible argument, since everything sounds impeccable if you don’t focus in on what he’s saying. The old Kanye wanted you to hear what he had to say; now it seems as if he wants you to take in the full experience where the words aren’t as important as the whole.
Man, I don’t know. All I know is that I really hate his verse on “Father Stretch My Hands, Pt. 1,” and I’d really like him to do that song justice because it’s too perfect to waste. I’d let Kanye name my unborn son if he’d just rerecord it and make it better.
That’d be so Kanye.
Panama Jackson is the co-founder and senior editor of VerySmartBrothas.com. He lives in Washington, D.C., and believes the children are our future.