The Life of Pablo: First impressions of Kanye West's wavy gospel album

Each of Yeezy's signature sounds blended into one

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The Independent Culture

NEW YORK — Returning to the city where his rap career began 12 years ago, Kanye West debuted his seventh studio album The Life of Pablo to kick-off New York Fashion Week.

Beside his longtime visual collaborator Vanessa Beecroft, Westt treated fans to a listening party inside Madison Square Garden with ear-splitting bass while models displayed Yeezy Season 3, the latest in his post-apocalyptic sportswear collection.

West has previously called his latest work a “gospel album,” and one of the greatest hip-hop albums of all-time. He's also changed the title multiple times over the past several weeks. The star-studded playlist begins with “Ultra Light Beams” featuring the always affable Chance the Rapper who delivers a memorable guest verse around Kelly Price hooks and organ samples.“

The “Father Stretch My Hands, Pt. 1” track, co-produced by Mike Dean and Rick Rubin, features Kid Cudi on the hook with Future's now infamous tag, “If Young Metro don't trust you I'm gone shoot you.”

“Pt. 2” features Desiigner, the newest addition to the GOOD Music family. Ye’ flips through personal remembrances of his father, late mother and the infamous car accident that left West’s jaw wired shut, which spared him enough time to perfect his writing — a much needed break from producing for hip-hop’s elite. While Ye' gets extra personal, Desiigner comes through out of nowhere with, "I got broads in Atlanta," sounding  

Rihanna opens “Famous,” one of the strongest sounding tracks in MSG. Think "Power" meets dancehall. West, who’s usually accused of sexism and displaying a warped view of women, doesn’t disappoint: “I still think I’ll have sex with Taylor Swift, I made that b***h famous.” The line should come as no surprise as he’s continually claimed responsibility for the success and fame his former girlfriend Amber Rose. Still, folks in The Garden danced along and quickly caught onto the song's drums.

In “Highlights,” the rapper-producer brings up his family. "Uh, 21 Grammys superstar family, he raps. "We the new Jackson's and momma 'bout that action."

Yeezy taps into his Etsy fandom in “Feedback,” by bringing the vendor's merchandise to life.

“What if Kanye made a song about Kanye, Called 'I miss the old Kanye,’ Man that would be so Kanye, that's all it was Kanye,” he raps. “We still love Kanye and I love you like Kanye loves Kanye.“

Sampling Hardrive's house anthem "Deep Inside," the track "Fade" features Post Malone and Ty Dolla $ign.

On “FML,” The Weeknd offers vocals for song's hook singing: “Even though I always fuck my life up, only I can mention me.”  

In the brooding “Real Friends,” West laments about disappointing relationships with Ty Dolla $ign. The track center's on "Pablo's" former friends, extended family members and a cousin who stole his sextape-filled laptop and hustled him for $250,000. Easily the most personal track on the album, West displays a vulnerability reminiscent of his 808s & Heartbreak days. 

To nearly everyone's surprise, the recently previewed “Wolves” features the elusive Frank Ocean. West considers the possibility of Mary meeting Joseph in the club whilst surrounded by thugs. One of the most memorable lines in the dark and moody track repping Yeezy-styled synths: “You tried to play nice everybody just took advantage," West raps. "You left your fridge open, somebody just took a sandwich.”

All-in-all, West blends the best of his production styles we've come to know and love from over the years. Heavy soul samples, arrogant lyrics, drum movements, as well as much more to come as West recently revealed that he's added seven more tracks to the album.