Music

The most amazingly “Kanye” moments on Kanye’s ‘The Life of Pablo’

A fast take first listen guide to the key lyrics of Kanye’s new album The Life of Pablo.

The album initially christened So Help Me God, then Swish, then Waves and finally The Life of Pablo has arrived with all the spectacle, controversy and hype that could be squeezed into Madison Square Garden alongside Kanye’s legendary ego.

It’s hard to get a read on the record from the first listen with so many distractions – “Look it’s the entire Kardashi-klan! And Naomi Campbell! And Young Thug sleeping! And Anna Wintour looking neglected and bored!” – but it’s certainly going to fuel the next week of thinkpiece chatter. At least until Kendrick sweeps/gets snubbed at the Grammys or Beyonce drops another track.

Although Kanye referenced “Pablo” on ‘No More Parties in LA’ – a track featuring Kendrick Lamar that has been inexplicably cut from the final tracklist – it’s not clear exactly where the name comes from. Is the bizarre video game about Kanye’s mother riding to heaven on a white winged horse a clue? Is Kanye aligning himself with San Pablo – aka Paul the Apostle who changed his wicked ways on the road to Damascus? Or have Kanye and Kim been getting all Netflix and Chill with Narcos and Pablo Escobar? It could be Pablo Picasso but as any fan of the Modern Lovers will tell you no one ever called Pablo Picasso an asshole so that doesn’t really fit with the Kanye brand.

“This album is really a gospel album,” West explained to the 20,000 fans in Madison Square Garden and the 20 million who tuned into the live stream. “It’s been a hard struggle, but I feel so happy, so much joy to be actually following my dreams without people shitting on me.”

‘Ultra Light Beams’

Change The Rapper is the star of the album’s joyous opening cut with the longest verse – “This is my part, nobody else speak” – with Kanye in gospel mode preaching a mantra that immediately sets The Life of Pablo apart from its darker, more aggressive predecessor Yeezus. And on the seventh album Kanye rested.

Key Lyrics: “We on an ultra light beam/This is a God dream/This is everything”


‘Father Stretch My Hands, Pt. 1 + Pt. 2’

Immediately before the launch of the album Kanye tweeted a section of the lyrics to this cut telling the world that he cried while writing the section about his father. But the laughter in the cinema proved that the most attention grabbing lines are about anal bleaching. If Nicki Minaj, Meghan Trainor and J Lo made 2014 the year of the booty, then Kanye has made 2016 the year of the asshole with this verse and that recent tweet about ex-girlfriends and ass-play.

Key Lyrics: “Now if I fuck this model/And she just bleached her asshole/And I get bleach on my T-shirt/I’mma feel like an asshole”


‘Freestyle 4’

There are lines here about police violence and “gossiping, no-pussy-getting bloggers” but the main subject here is – as always – Kanye himself. Ye calls himself the “ghetto Oprah” and claims that he’s something like Steve Jobs mixed with Steve Austin – but is he talking about the wrestler or the Six Million Dollar Man? There’s also a lyric about being the “rich slave in the fabric store picking cotton” that wouldn’t have sounded out of place on Yeezus and the repeated hook line “Ayy, y’all heard about the good news? Y’all sleeping on me, huh? Had a good snooze?”

Key Lyrics: “Name one genius that ain’t crazy”


‘Famous’

Aka “that track with the Taylor Swift verse and the sample from the dancehall classic ‘Bam Bam’” Possibly the greatest throwback reference to an old awards show meltdown of all time… OF ALL TIME! As the track finished playing the sound of Kanye’s laptop receiving an email ping echoed through Madison Square Garden; was Taylor watching the live stream?

Key Lyrics: “I feel like me and Taylor might still have sex/Why? I made that bitch famous”


‘High Lights’

Kanye sure does like those bright lights – this is his sixth song with “lights” in the title following 2007 single ‘Flashing Lights’, 808’s & Heartbreak’s ‘Street Lights’, the ‘All of the Lights (Interlude)’ and ‘All of the Lights’ pair on My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy and the opening to The Life of Pablo, ‘Ultra Light Beams’. The lights here are again focused on Kanye with a reminder that he has 21 Grammy Awards and that his family is the new Jacksons. But the lines that set Twitter ablaze were about a slightly different aspect of Kanye’s family life.

Key Lyrics: “I bet me and Ray J would be friends/If we ain’t love the same bitch/Yeah, he might have hit it first/Only problem is I’m rich”


‘Feed Back’

Aka “that one with the super self-aware lines about the old Kanye.” Are you one of those old fans who longs for the chipmunk soul samples and Kanye in pastel polos? Hell, you’re probably still hanging for a new Fonzworth Bentley album. Ye has heard your complaints and answered all your prayers with a hilarious verse that rhymes “Kanye” with “Kanye” 25 times. Even for Kanye that’s some impressively egotistical rhyming.

Key Lyrics: “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/We still love Kanye/and I love you/like Kanye loves Kanye”


‘Fade’

Featuring Los Angeles rapper Ty Dolla $ign and Post Malone – aka the White Iverson – , this track is built around samples of house Chicago classic ‘Mystery of Love’ by Mr. Finger, Hardrive’s ‘Deep Inside’ and Rare Earth ‘(I Know) I’m Losing You’. There aren’t really any wildly memorable lyrics for Kanye here but everyone’s too busy dancing to that heavy, rolling bassline and shouting “Banger!” to notice.

Key Lyrics: “I feel it’s fadin'”


‘FML’

If you’re going to get a guest verse from The Weeknd you’d better be talking about drugs and feelings so Kanye does both those things on ‘FML’. The song possibly also offers an explanation for all those legendary Twitter rants: “You ain’t never seen nothing crazier than this nigga when he off his Lexapro.”

Key Lyrics: “Pour out my feelings/Revealing the layers to my soul”


Real Friends

Kanye keeps things introspective on ‘Real Friends’ with universally relatable lyrics about losing touch with friendships and family – and those difficult times when you have to pay dirtbag cousins $250k just to get back a laptop that has that embarrassing sex tape on it.

Key Lyrics: “Money turn your kin into an enemy/Niggas ain’t real as they pretend to be”


Wolves

Stripped of the Sia and Vic Mensa verses we heard when Kanye played the track on SNL, ‘Wolves’ now closes with the song – and album – with the first lyrics we’ve heard from Frank Ocean in far too long. Kanye also compares himself and Kim to Jesus’ parents just to make North and Saint’s lives a little more difficult and anger all those firebrand preachers that have listened to the full The Life of Pablo record.

Key Lyrics: “I said baby what if, you was clubbin’/Thuggin’, hustilin’ before you met your husband/Then I said, ‘What if Mary was in the club/What if she met Joseph around hella thugs/Cover Nori in lambs wool/We surrounded by the fuckin’ wolves'”