Kanye West is the one artist that everyone has an opinion on, for better or worse. It’s hard not to, seeing as how he’s been at the center of controversy ever since he interrupted Taylor Swift‘s acceptance speech at the 2009 VMAs. This year, he’s back with the long-anticipated The Life of Pablo, or T.L.O.P. for short, and unfortunately it’s lackluster at best. We open with “Ultralight Beam”, a gospel-like song with choir choruses and verses from Chance the Rapper and The-Dream. It’s a promising introduction, but things only scatter from there. “Father Stretch My Hands Pt. 2” feels like a real hip-hop track, at least for the first minute and forty-five seconds. We hear Rihanna on “Famous”, as well as the controversial Taylor Swift lyric. Indeed, Kanye seems to resort to a lot of offensive one-liners on this album, but the shock factor is never enough to save it from being self-indulgent (“I Love Kanye” is the most glaring example of this) and disorganized. The more religious songs contrast harshly, and it leaves the listener wondering what exactly Yeezy was hoping to accomplish with this 18-track monstrosity.
The strongest numbers on T.L.O.P. are definitely “Feedback” and “No More Parties in LA”, not because they’re good songs in general, but just because they’re funny. Kanye West is an artist that’s easy to deride, and T.L.O.P. is an album that’s even easier to poke fun at. West seems like he wants his creative vision to be taken seriously 100% of the time, but let’s face it, nothing he’s given us here is on the same level as “Heartless” or “Stronger”. This album is definitely worth listening to, even more so among other people. Absurd lines such as “You left your fridge open / Somebody just took a sandwich” (“Wolves”) and downright mean ones like “My ex said I gave her the best years of her life / I saw a recent picture of her / Maybe she was right” (“30 Hours”) are much easier to stomach if you consider them in the context of who Kanye West is now. It may be obnoxious, but he’s a true celebrity. T.L.O.P. could have used some more work (or maybe less), but as it stands, it’s an album that’d be fun to learn all the words to, and then promptly forget about for the rest of eternity.