Kanye is famous for hogging the headlines, though not always in a positive light. Between a presidential campaign announcement at the last Video Music Awards and a Twitter feud with ex Amber Rose, it’s a wonder Kanye’s had time to work on an album at all.
For those fans that have been following the progress on Yeezy’s new album have had their work cut out for them just trying to figure out what album Kanye’s talking about. Originally called “So Help Me God,” ‘Ye’s seventh album was also called “SWISH” and “Waves,” before the rapper cryptically tweeted a final album title, “T.L.O.P.” on Feb. 9. At the time, Kanye offered a free pair of Yeezys and tickets to his sold out show in Madison Square Garden to anyone who could guess the album title. It’s unclear if anyone guessed correctly, but Kanye later tweeted that the album stood for “The Life of Pablo.”
The track list on “T.L.O.P.” has been shuffled around almost as much as the album title, but “Real Friends,” featuring Ty Dolla $igns, is one that stuck around. The song starts off with a piano melody mixed with a soft static hum, as if it’s being played from an old record, which sets the track up with a mellow, introspective vibe. It also features beats sampled from “Friends,” by hip-hop group Whodini. Lyrically, the track reflects on Kanye’s personal life, offering listeners a piece of his mind (if he hasn’t done that enough already). The beat is a little slow, but it works well with the introspective mood of the song.
“Wolves,” featuring and Vic Mensa, also starts off slow, but gets kind of creepy real quick. While Sia’s vocalizations at the beginning are calming, Kanye comes in with a scratchy autotune that shifts the song to a creepy robotic track. Mensa’s smooth vocals really stand out as the highlight of this track. All in all, the total effect of this track is a little chilling, and certainly an odd way to end an album. However, it is a song that will haunt listeners, though maybe not in the way Kanye intended. Frank Ocean replaced Sia and Vic Mensa on the album version of the track.
Ty Dolla $igns pops up again to provide backing vocals, along with Post Malone, on “Fade.” The house-inspired track was originally teased during at New York Fashion Week and sampled heavily from Rare Earth’s cover of the Temptations’ song “(I Know) I’m Losing You.” Lyrically, the track isn’t as emotional or revealing as other tracks, which works well in this case. The repetition allows the listener to get lost in the beat of the track, which makes it work great as a dance song.
Several other popular tracks, notably “FourFiveSeconds,” featuring Rihanna and Sir Paul McCartney and “Only One,” the song Kanye wrote for his daughter, North West, were cut from the final tracklist. Kanye’s collab with Kendrick Lamar, “No More Parties in L.A.,” was initially dropped but later added to the final track list revealed on Kanye’s Twitter on Feb. 12.
Even though Kanye’s ever-changing tracklist and album title certainly made fans impatient for the album release, the mystery around the album created a hype that the album couldn’t quite live up to.
Top Tracks: “Real Friends” and “Fade”
Verdict: In an interview with Big Boy on Real 92.3, Kanye described his album as a “sonic painting.” After listening to the final product, it still feels more like a sketch. It’s rough around some edges, and, despite the fact that the beats sound good, they’re not as exciting as the hype around “T.L.O.P.” promised.