Before Kanye West frantically announced to the "Saturday Night Live" audience on Feb. 13 that his seventh studio album, “The Life of Pablo,” was streaming on Tidal, the highly anticipated and repeatedly delayed album had undergone three name changes, accompanied several trademark Kanye Twitter rants and expanded and contracted to meet Ye’s whim.
The “final” product — West claimed he’s still fixing “Wolves” — is an expansive, conflicted exploration of Kanye West’s scattered soul.
It seems apropos that West landed on “The Life of Pablo” as the album’s title — throughout the album, West compares himself to and idolizes an unspecified Pablo; a tantrum recorded backstage at SNL suggests West had Picasso, Escobar and the apostle Paul in mind. He never said he was humble.
It’s a relatively reasonable metaphor. West has conquered public attention for over a decade and built an empire as a designer and G.O.O.D. Music executive with more than 20 Grammys to his name. West likens his influence and power to that of cartel leader Pablo Escobar, who also drew both criticism and praise from the public, though the Colombian drug lord’s Robin Hood image was significantly more grisly.
Beyond his wealth, success and provocative nature, West’s been a trendsetter in rap since his career started (for all intents and purposes) with “The College Dropout” in 2004. He may not be the greatest artist of all time, as he has repeatedly claimed, but his meticulous production and ability to interplay obscure samples with grace and harmony cements West as one of hip-hop’s greats — even if he isn’t rap’s Picasso.