It’s finally happened. After being a huge Kanye West fan for over a decade, I’m finally fed up with this dude. I honestly don’t care how much of a giant douchebag he may be as long as he makes some quality music, but don’t punish your fans by trying to promote you and your friends shitty streaming music service (good thing for free trials). The good news is that I’m reviewing Kanye West’s album, and not him as a person, because as of right now he can eat a bag of dicks. Also, I’d like to congratulate him on having the most confusing and completely fucked up album release of all time. Kanye changed the album title four times, added songs at the last minute, and then made TLOP a Tidal exclusive, which led the album to be bootlegged over half a million times (unofficial numbers, because I guarantee you it’s a hell of a lot more than that) in the first few days upon it’s release. Not to mention that Kanye said he would still tweak the album and might shorten the track list again, so yeah… good job on releasing an unfinished product.
As a huge fan of Kanye’s music, one of the things that can always be said about his albums is the cohesiveness in sound, yet individuality, with each release. College Dropout had the beautifully layered soul samples, Late Registration took what he had in it’s debut and amplified it with the help of a live orchestra, Graduation was practically a synth filled arena rap record, 808’s had the minimalist production and auto tune, MBDTF was a major combination of his work up to that point, and finally Yeezus had the industrial left field production which divided his fan base. This album, much like it’s release and unlike his other albums, has a complete feeling of disorder. TLOP sounds like a mixtape thrown together at the last minute with jumbled sounds and ideas. Not saying that there aren’t any jewels, but there’s just as much unnecessary tracks as there are good ones.
The album starts off on a real high note with Ultralight Beam. This track features beautiful production composed of a gospel choir, a simple yet effective use of minimalist percussion and instruments. The real highlight comes in the form of Chance The Rapper, who undoubtedly raps the album’s best verse. However, it takes a huge downturn on the following track, Father Hold My Hand (Part 1). Kanye once again delivers solid production with help from Rick Rubin and Metro Boomin. All good things come to an end the second he opens his mouth by delivering a god awful lyric about dating a model with a bleached asshole. What the fuck was anyone in that room thinking? I hope someone in the recording session at least told him how terrible that line was, and Kanye in typical Kanye fashion told him to fuck off and left it in there. After an awkward transition, the track goes into Father Hold My Hand (Part 2) with a banging trap beat which is borrowed/stolen from the track Panda, by a Future rip off by the name of Desiigner. I didn’t even know it wasn’t Future until I looked at the track list. The track goes hard for about a minute and a half, until it abruptly ends for no good reason. It doesn’t make sense, but neither has anything else we’ve seen from this album so far, so go fucking figure.
Famous is a solid track with a menacing beat produced by a multitude of people including Havoc (of Mobb Deep), Hudson Mohawke and Charlie Heat. ‘Ye spits a solid verse, besides the completely egotistical Taylor Swift punchline, The only real negative I can say about the track is the original version’s chorus (which was heard in snippets) featured the same Nina Simone sample, which is placed here solely as an outro, was replaced by Rihanna and it adds nothing to the track except star power,
From this point the album starts to run into a 5 track drought in quality. Feedback features Yeezy having one of his best deliveries on the album, but the beat is composed of a feedback loop which gets immensely annoying. Low Lights is an unnecessary intro to Highlights, once again it adds nothing to the album. Highlights is another track with solid production, yet it sounds like a throwaway from MBDTF sessions. Even with it’s solid production, Kanye once again ruins a song with awful lyrics which include rapping about his dick with a go pro. At least the verse gets better from there, because it couldn’t possibly get any worse. Freestyle 4 can’t possibly be considered a song, it can barely be considered a freestyle, it’s just ‘Ye talking shit with unbearable distorted vocals and an outro by
Future Desiigner. I Love Kanye fucking sucks, I don’t care if its supposed to be a lighthearted skit, there’s nothing good about Kanye rhyming Kanye with Kanye. However, I do recommend you give a listen to the fan made Stefan Ponce remix, just for the soulful production he managed to lay underneath it.
Lucky for the fans, the album’s best songs (not including Ultralight Beams) are saved for the 2nd half. Waves features Chris Brown on a majority of the track and its perfectly executed. FML is one of my favorite tracks and features some of the best production on TLOP, as well as a feature from The Weeknd, as Kanye raps about the struggles to remain faithful to his wife and the fear of losing everything. Up next the album’s single, Real Friends, shines brightly. Sounding like vintage Kanye, he gives us an introspective look on his thoughts on friendships and family over some somber keys. One of the most awaited songs from this album was Wolves, which has been reworked and included on this release with a feature by Frank Ocean. As much as I like this version, the track he performed on SNL (and has recently leaked in full quality) features Vic Mensa and Sia and it’s far superior to the album version.
The following Silver Surfer intermission, a phone call from Max B from prison, has no place on the album and it would only make sense if the album would still be called Waves. This breaks the greatness and cohesiveness of the past few songs. 30 Hours would be a highlight on the album if it wasn’t over 5 minutes long. The track could’ve ended at 3 minutes, instead we once again Kanye spitting unfinished verses, talking shit, and mumbling for the final 2 minutes. No More Parties In LA, a GOOD Fridays track which was thankfully added at the last minute, features Yeezy and Kendrick Lamar trading verses over a grimy Madlib bass line that breaks necks. Facts, another GOOD Fridays track, was added to the album as well with a completely reworked beat (original was a freestyle over Drake & Future’s Jumpman) provided by Charlie Heat. However, as much as I like Heat’s new beat, I really can’t care any less about Kanye’s disses toward Nike. Another useless track that should’ve stayed a loose freestyle. Fade is the album’s closer and features Ty Dolla $ign and Post Malone singing over a house beat with minimal assistance from West. The overall production of the track isn’t bad, but it’s another track which serves no purpose and sounds completely out of place.
Overall, Kanye West delivered his first album which I can say sounds like a completely unfinished product. A man that’s known to have such perfectionist qualities when making music seems to have finally let his massive ego get the best of him and dropped a subpar product. Not to say that there aren’t some great tracks in here (Real Friends, Ultralight Beams), but even Kanye himself admitted that he still had to tweak the album a bit and he’d then re-release it (on fucking Tidal) with at least a fixed version of Wolves (which I hope that means the OG with Sia and Vic Mensa). TLOP isn’t a complete failure of an album, in fact it has some brilliant moments, but it’s not up to the quality standards that ‘Ye has set for himself in the past.