|Released February 14, 2016|
Release date 14 February 2016
|Genre Hip hop
Artist Kanye West
Label GOOD Music
November 2013 – February 2016|
Studio Various Windmark Studios, Santa Monica No Name Studios, Punta Mita Florence Home Studios, Calabasas Germano Studios and Jungle City Studios, New York City Mike Dean's List House of Hits, SoHo Larrabee Studios and Ameraycan Recording Studios, North Hollywood Nobel Street Studios Abel's Crib, Trump Tower Jungle City Studios, California
Producer Kanye West (also exec.) Noah Goldstein (also co-exec.) Rick Rubin (also co-exec.) Andrew Dawson Anthony Kilhoffer Allen Ritter Benji B Boi-1da Cashmere Cat Chance the Rapper Charlie Handsome Charlie Heat Caroline Shaw DJ Dodger Stadium (DJDS) Darren King Derek Watkins Frank Dukes Havoc Hudson Mohawke Karriem Riggins Mike Dean Madlib Menace Metro Boomin Mitus Plain Pat Sinjin Hawke Southside Swizz Beatz Sevn Thomas Trevor Gureckis Velous
Nominations Grammy Award for Best Rap Album
Similar Kanye West albums, Hip hop music albums
Kanye west fade explicit
The Life of Pablo is the seventh solo album and eighth studio album by American rapper Kanye West. It was released on February 14, 2016, by GOOD Music and Def Jam Recordings. Recording sessions took place from 2013 to 2016, in Italy, Mexico, Canada and the United States. Record production on the album was handled by West alongside a variety of producers such as Mike Dean, Noah Goldstein, Metro Boomin, Rick Rubin, Hudson Mohawke, and more. He also enlisted a wide array of guest vocalists, including Ty Dolla Sign, Desiigner, Kid Cudi, The-Dream, Chance the Rapper, Rihanna, and Frank Ocean.
- Kanye west fade explicit
- Kanye west famous unofficial official video
- Initial sessions
- Post release updates
- Lyrics and themes
- Streaming and commercial release
- Critical reception
- Commercial performance
- Track listing
The Life of Pablo was preceded by several promotional singles as part of West's GOOD Fridays giveaways, including the tracks "Real Friends" and "No More Parties in LA". In the months before its release, the album's title and track list went through several publicized changes, and West's activity on social media became the source of several high-profile controversies. An early version of the album was premiered by West on February 11, 2016, at Madison Square Garden as part of his Yeezy Season 3 fashion show in collaboration with Adidas. After several additional recording sessions and alterations, the album was launched exclusively through the streaming service Tidal three days later.
Following the official streaming release of The Life of Pablo, West continued to make changes to the music, describing it as "a living breathing changing creative expression" and declaring the end of the album as a dominant release form. Def Jam confirmed his intention to continue working on the album over the subsequent months. A largely updated version of the album, which included alternate mixes and other changes, was made available on other streaming services and for digital purchase on his website on April 1, 2016; no official physical CD release is planned. The album was supported by the singles "Famous", "Father Stretch My Hands", and "Fade".
The Life of Pablo received positive reviews from critics, with particular attention drawn to the fragmented, unfinished nature of its composition and release. Following Tidal's disclosure of its streaming data and the album's release to competing streaming services, The Life of Pablo debuted at number one on the Billboard 200, becoming West's seventh consecutive number one album on the chart and the first album to reach the summit primarily through streaming, accompanied by 28,000 copies sold. It was named among the best albums of 2016 by several publications, and was nominated for Best Rap Album at the 59th Annual Grammy Awards, while both "Ultralight Beam" and "Famous" were nominated for Best Rap/Sung Performance and Best Rap Song.
Kanye west famous unofficial official video
In November 2013, West began working on his eighth album, under the working title So Help Me God for a 2014 release date. The album was initially to include production work by Rick Rubin and Q-Tip. Early recording sessions resulted in several tracks that were released as standalone singles or were given to other artists, including his Paul McCartney collaborations "All Day", "Only One", and the McCartney and Rihanna collaboration "FourFiveSeconds". Some of the earlier tracks to make the final cut for The Life of Pablo were "Famous" (formerly titled "Nina Chop") and "Wolves", the latter of which West performed on Saturday Night Live's 40th anniversary episode with Australian recording artist Sia and fellow rapper Vic Mensa. In 2015, West announced the new album title SWISH, though he clarified that this could still be subject to change. West announced in January 2016 that SWISH would be released on February 11, and that month released new songs "Real Friends" and a snippet of "No More Parties in L.A." with Kendrick Lamar. This also revived the GOOD Fridays initiative in which West releases new singles every Friday. On January 26, 2016, West revealed he had renamed the album from SWISH to Waves.
In the weeks leading up to the album's release, West released several changing iterations of the track list for the new album while becoming embroiled in several Twitter controversies. In February, West posted a tweet seemingly asserting Bill Cosby's innocence in the wake of over 50 women making allegations of sexual assault directed at Cosby. and became involved in a short-lived social media altercation with rapper Wiz Khalifa on Twitter that eventually involved their mutual ex-partner, Amber Rose, who protested to West's mention of her and Khalifa's child. The feud involved allegations by Rose concerning her sexual relationship with West, and received significant media attention. As of February 2, 2016, West and Khalifa had reconciled. The track "Famous" met with scrutiny on social media for a controversial lyrical reference to American singer Taylor Swift, partially in relation to West's interruption of her 2009 VMA acceptance speech.
Several days ahead of its release, West again changed the title, this time to The Life of Pablo. On February 11, West premiered the album at Madison Square Garden as part of the presentation of his Yeezy Season 3 clothing line. Following the preview, West announced that he would be modifying the track list once more before its release to the public, and further delayed its release to finalize the recording of the track "Waves" at the behest of co-writer Chance the Rapper. He released the album exclusively on Tidal on February 14, 2016 following a performance on SNL. Following its official streaming release, West continued to tinker with mixes of several tracks, describing the work as "a living breathing changing creative expression" and proclaiming the end of the album as a dominant release form. Although a statement by West around Life of Pablo's initial release indicated that the album would be a permanent exclusive to Tidal, the album was released through several other competing services starting in April.
The album was recorded between 2013 and 2016, with recording for the track "No More Parties in LA" starting in 2010, during the sessions for West's fifth studio album My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy. Reports stated that the album was written and recorded in several locations; including Los Angeles, Mexico, the Isle of Wight and Florence, Italy. West's recording in Los Angeles was rumored to be at Shangri-La Studios, which is the home base of Yeezus executive producer Rick Rubin. The production in Mexico occurred with Paul McCartney and frequent collaborator Rihanna. American rappers Pusha T and Consequence confirmed that they had ended their feud in order to work with West on his eighth album, with Consequence saying in an interview: "Pusha and I deaded everything and we creatively vibed with Kanye for this new LP."
In April 2014, in an interview with Self-Titled, GOOD Music's producer Evian Christ explained that while West wasn't always musically clear, he seemed "...interested in pushing aesthetic boundaries as far into the Avant as possible. Kanye is the one dude who's like, 'This is not experimental enough. This is too poppy. Make something else.' The other guys are like, 'We don't get it.'" Christ said that West's "a dream to work with", adding that "...no one else gives you that level of creative freedom. When he wants you to work to a blueprint, the blueprint is: 'Don't make a rap beat. Anything but a rap beat.'" In May 2014, in an interview with Billboard, James Fauntleroy of Cocaine 80s spoke of his recording sessions with West and said, "I went in there and did some stuff on that shit. I sang shit on there and left. We'll see how it turns out, when I went in it was early, [during] the early stages. I know there will be a lot more other people, a lot of interjections." In February 2015, while West was continuing to work on the album, he confirmed that the album is at about 80% completion. He went on to say that:
I'm trying to get it finished. I'm trying to get it to the people… Release dates is played out. So the surprise is going to be a surprise. There go the surprise... [It's] cookout music that just feels good. My last album was protest music. I was like, 'I'm going to take my ball and go home.'
In March 2015, in an interview with MTV, Big Sean spoke about the multiple recording locations involved this album, whilst promoting his own third studio album, Dark Sky Paradise: "...We done did a couple, to like Mexico, like how we did Hawaii before and stuff like that. We work as unit for sure, that's all I'm gonna say I'm not gonna drop nothing else." In an October 2015 interview with The Fader, Post Malone, who (along with Ty Dolla Sign) is featured on the track "Fade", discussed his experiences with West:
I met Kanye at Kylie Jenner's party and Kanye was like, 'Let's make something.' So I went over to Ye's and we just started working and then we just started talking. And we just kept on going. I went in the studio with Kanye and we just recorded the scratch vocals and then I wrote over it… He was just a normal guy, like me, and super cool. He was wearing all camo, just all camo. He was very quiet and he was very, very humble.
On January 27, 2016, West revealed the update of the final track listing on his official Twitter account. This updated track listing also revealed a number of the unannounced potential collaborators, which included Earl Sweatshirt, Plain Pat, The-Dream, Tyler, The Creator, The World Famous Tony Williams, Diddy, Danny!, ASAP Rocky, Kid Cudi and French Montana, as well as a return of his frequent production collaborators, such as Mike Dean, Hudson Mohawke, Vicious, and Noah Goldstein. Following his album's premiere at Madison Square Garden, it was revealed that Brooklyn-based rapper Desiigner contributed vocals to "Pt. 2" and "Freestyle 4".
Following the album's initial Tidal release, West declared his intentions to continue altering the music, declaring it a "living breathing changing creative expression." In March 2016, over a month after the album's release, West updated the album's Tidal track list with a reworked version of "Wolves", which included previously removed guest vocals from Vic Mensa and Sia, and separated the ending portion sung by Frank Ocean into a separate track called "Frank's Track". In late March, the album received a major update, with at least 12 tracks appearing in altered forms. Updates included prominent vocal additions, new lyrics, and altered mixes. Def Jam confirmed this incarnation to be "a newly updated, remixed and remastered version", and clarified the album would continue to appear with "new updates, new versions and new iterations" in the following months, calling it "a continuous process". On June 14, The Life of Pablo was updated again for the third time after the album's initial release. The update included an additional track titled "Saint Pablo" featuring Sampha, and other miscellaneous alterations.
Discussing the album's continued alterations, Jayson Greene of Pitchfork wrote "at what point is a record "over", and who gets to make the call? Kanye West is seeing how far he can stretch the point right now, in a way no pop star has ever quite tried", describing West as "testing the shifting state of the "album cycle" to see if he can break it entirely, making his album like another piece of software on your phone that sends you push updates." Winston Cook-WIlson of Inverse described the album as "a fluid construct", writing that "as a way of holding the public's attention span, Kanye's choice to continue to tweak The Life is Pablo indefinitely is genius [...] It encourages people spend time processing an album that deserves it: a bewildering, sprawling, and controversy-courting piece of art.
The Life of Pablo was noted for its "raw, occasionally even intentionally messy, composition" in distinction to West's previous albums. Rolling Stone wrote that "this is a messy album that feels like it was made that way on purpose, after the laser-sharp intensity of Yeezus", stating that "It's designed to sound like a work in progress." Carl Wilson of Slate suggested that "the point is that in the context of all this sonic landscaping, in West's kamikaze, mood-swinging way, Pablo now seems undeniably (not half-assedly, as I'd been about to conclude) like an album of struggle", adding that the album created "strange links between Kanye's many iterations—soul-sample enthusiast, heartbroken Auto-Tune crooner, hedonistic avant-pop composer, industrial-rap shit-talker" while making use of bass and percussion lines "that are only the tail-end decay of some lost starting place, some vanished rhythmic Eden." The NME described Pablo as "an album on which, at a moment's notice, Kanye veers from futuristic beats on the likes of 'Feedback' to bog-standard modern trap – as when up coming rapper Desiigner turns up on 'Father Stretch My Hands, Pt. 2' – to vintage soul on 'Ultra Light Beam'. The song "Famous" features a segue from "braggadocious, bell-ringing hip-hop" into samples of Sister Nancy's dancehall song "Bam Bam" chopped up over the chord progression featured in Nina Simone's "Do What You Gotta Do."
Prior to the album's release, West tweeted out that the album was a hip hop album, as well as a gospel album. Additionally, in an interview on Big Boy Radio, West stated "When I was sitting in the studio with Kirk, Kirk Franklin, and we're just going through it, I said this is a gospel album, with a whole lot of cursing on it, but it's still a gospel album", adding "The gospel according to Ye. It's not exactly what happened in the Bible, but it's this story idea of Mary Magdalene becoming Mary." "Ultralight Beam", particularly, is noted to feature several gospel elements, from "the sound of a 4-year-old preaching gospel, some organ", as well as a church choir singing the refrain of "This is a God dream." Chance the Rapper and his instrumental collaborator, Donnie Trumpet bring elements of soul revivalism into the track during Chance's guest verse. Greg Kot of the Chicago Tribune wrote in his review of The Life of Pablo, "West's version of gospel touches on some of those sonic cues – heavy organ, soaring choirs – but seems more preoccupied with gospel text and the notion of redemption."
Lyrics and themes
Entertainment Weekly noted the album's frequent meditations on matters of faith, family, and West's own role as a cultural figure while observing that "Pablo frequently (some might say abruptly) toggles between Sad Kanye and the bombastic and celebratory Kanye." The Daily Telegraph described West as "constantly veering between swaggering bravado and insecurity bordering on paranoia, smashing the sacred against the profane and disrupting his own flowing grooves with interjections that sound like they are spilling over from another studio altogether." GQ wrote that the two-part "Father Stretch My Hands" "begins as a gospel song about fucking models, transitions halfway into a soul-baring confessional dance track, then drops in two entire verses of an entirely different song about drug-dealing and cars by an 18-year-old Brooklyn rapper, before resolving into a meditative piece for vocoder by a contemporary classical composer and ending with a snippet of the sampled gospel song that the whole thing started from, just to remind you how far we've traveled from there in the span of four minutes."
The song "Famous" included the controversial lyric "I feel like me and Taylor might still have sex/Why? I made that bitch famous." The lyric refers to country/pop singer Taylor Swift, whose acceptance speech West interrupted at the 2009 MTV Video Music Awards, and was heavily publicized and criticized by media outlets and listeners. Kot called the song "an example of just how brilliant and infuriating West can be at the same time." Jayson Greene of Pitchfork wrote that the lyric "feels like a piece of bathroom graffiti made to purposefully reignite the most racially-charged rivalry in 21st-century pop." "Feedback" features West's riposte to his critics: "Name one genius that ain’t crazy." The interlude "I Love Kanye" features self-aware a cappella lyrics referencing West's image in the public. Tracks such as "FML", "Real Friends", and "Freestyle 4" feature "gloomy, doomy" discussions of trust issues, antidepressants, and familial problems. The song "Wolves" features the lyrics, "Cover Nori in lamb's wool/ We surrounded by/ The fuckin wolves", among other Biblical allusions, offering a comparison between West and his wife Kim Kardashian to Mary and Joseph.
On January 8, 2016, West's wife Kim Kardashian announced via Twitter the release of "Real Friends", which initiated the return of West's GOOD Fridays. West had previously done a weekly free music giveaway leading up to the release of My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy. "Real Friends" was released the day and it was announced via SoundCloud, simultaneously along with the album's release date and a snippet of the forthcoming GOOD Friday release, titled "No More Parties in LA", which features guest vocals from Kendrick Lamar. "No More Parties in L.A." had its proper release on the following week, also via West's Soundcloud account. The song was produced by Madlib and West, which contains a sample of "Suzie Thundertussy" performed by Walter Morrison. West premiered The Life of Pablo at Madison Square Garden during his Adidas Yeezy Season 3 fashion show event. On February 12, West released a new track, titled "30 Hours", as part of his GOOD Fridays series.
On February 14, West performed "Highlights" and "Ultralight Beam" on Saturday Night Live. The Life of Pablo was later released exclusively through the streaming service Tidal on the same day. It was available for purchase for a few hours but reverted to streaming-only after that. West announced that the album would be available outside of Tidal a week later, however, on the following day, West claimed that he would never release the album outside of Tidal, encouraging his fans to sign up for the service. On the same day, Pigeons & Planes detailed that the version of the album, which was made available for streaming on Tidal was not its final version. After an active weekend, during which he was finishing his album, he stated that he was $53,000,000 in personal debt and called for Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg to invest $1 billion in West's ideas. He also called on other tech billionaires to help him.
Streaming and commercial release
The album initially received an exclusive Tidal release on February 14, 2016. West urged the public to download the application to hear the album, which resulted in it temporarily reaching the number one spot on the US App Store. West later tweeted that he "was thinking about not making CDs ever again", and stated that he would never release the album outside of Tidal. Following its Tidal exclusive release, it was announced that "Famous" would be the lead single to the proposed "final album." Its initial exclusive release on Tidal resulted in a large increase in subscribers to the service, 250 million streams in the first 10 days, and 400 million streams in the first six weeks before its release to other streaming platforms.
On April 1, 2016, West released an updated version of the album for streaming on Spotify, Apple Music, and Google Play. He also made the album available for purchase on his official website. "I Love Kanye" was the next song from the album to be released on streaming services other than Tidal. "Father Stretch My Hands Pt. 1 & Pt. 2" and "Fade" would be released as singles in the following month.
The release on to other streaming platforms and West's website, along with his claims that the album would be a Tidal exclusive forever, caused a lawsuit to be filed on April 18, 2016 against West, Tidal, and Jay Z (whose company, "Project Panther Ltd." owned Tidal) by law firm "Edelson PC", on behalf of California resident Justin Baker-Rhett, for false advertising. The lawsuit, which was seeking class-action status, claimed that Tidal and West never intended to have the album as a Tidal exclusive forever, but decided to say so in an attempt to boost Tidal's struggling subscriber growth.
In August 2016, West embarked on the Saint Pablo Tour in support of The Life of Pablo. The performances featured a mobile stage suspended from the ceiling. West postponed several dates in October following the Paris robbery of his wife Kim Kardashian. The remainder of the tour was later canceled on November 21, 2016, following controversy over comments made by West that week regarding his support of president-elect Donald Trump and public criticism of other artists. West was later admitted for psychiatric observation at UCLA Medical Center.
The Life of Pablo received mostly positive reviews from critics. At Metacritic, which assigns a normalized rating out of 100 to reviews from mainstream publications, the album received an average score of 75, based on 35 reviews. Rolling Stone's Rob Sheffield dubbed it both a mess and masterpiece: "This is a messy album that feels like it was made that way on purpose [...] West just drops broken pieces of his psyche all over the album and challenges you to fit them together." The A.V. Club's Corbin Reiff opined that "it feels far different from any of the tightly constructed, singular works of West's past", asserting instead that "as a beautiful, messy, mixed-up collection of 18 songs, it's a brilliant document." Writing for The New York Times, Jon Caramanica stated, "West [...] has perfected the art of aesthetic and intellectual bricolage, shape-shifting in real time and counting on listeners to keep up", concluding that "this is Tumblr-as-album, the piecing together of divergent fragments to make a cohesive whole." In a positive review, Jayson Greene of Pitchfork wrote that "a madcap sense of humor animates all [West's] best work, and The Life of Pablo has a freewheeling energy that is infectious and unique to his discography", finding that "somehow, it comes off as both his most labored-over and unfinished album, full of asterisks and corrections and footnotes." Robert Christgau found the record "wittingly casual and easy on the ears", in his blog for Vice. "Unlike Yeezus, it won't top many 2016 lists—it's too blatantly imperfect, too flagrantly unfocused. But that's also its charm, and I prefer it."
Ray Rahman of Entertainment Weekly was somewhat less enthusiastic, calling The Life of Pablo "an ambitious album that finds the rapper struggling to compact his many identities into one weird, uncomfortable, glorious whole [...] Like the man himself, the album is emotional, explosive, unpredictable, and undeniably thrilling." Alexis Petridis was more critical in The Guardian, finding it "at turns, rambling, chaotic, deeply underwhelming, impressively audacious, and completely infuriating", suggesting that "[i]t appears to have had ideas thrown at it until it feels messy and incoherent" despite concluding that "when The Life of Pablo is good, it's very good indeed." The Daily Telegraph's Neil McCormick wrote, "The Life of Pablo is certainly rich in musical scope, chock a block with inspired ideas", but also felt the work to be "so self-involved it crosses over into self-delusion, marked by such a tangible absence of perspective and objectivity it is as if [West] has actually lost sight of the elemental basics of his art." Writing for the Chicago Tribune, Greg Kot felt that "The Life of Pablo sounds like a work in progress rather than a finished album." In another mixed review, PopMatters's Evan Sawdey wrote that "The Life of Pablo's obscurities and eccentricities make it ripe for endless dissection by West's fans and followers, but make no mistake: this album is flawed, it’s problematic, and most of all, it’s no masterpiece."
The album debuted on the US Billboard 200 at number-one for the chart dated April 12, 2016 with 94,000 album-equivalent units, with 28,000 of those coming from pure album sales. As of January 1, 2017, the album has sold 798,000 album-equivalent units in the United States.
It was reported that West had lost $10 million in album sales due to the infringement, as Tidal did not report the streams to the Nielsen Music. These details were later revealed to be deformed reports from news outlets, as Tidal had not yet revealed the number of streams or in the increase of subscribers following the album's release. It was later revealed that subscribers more than doubled to 3 million users after the album was released, with the album gaining an estimated 250 million streams within the first 10 days, proving the initial reports false. On April 9, 2016, it was reported by Billboard that the album was set to debut atop the Billboard 200, making it the first album to reach the summit with over 50% from streaming.
Credits adapted from West's official website and Tidal.
Ultralight BeamChance The Rapper - Kirk Franklin5:20
Father Stretch My Hands Pt 1Kid Cudi2:15