If you streamed Kanye West’s Madison Square Garden concert last night, you already know what went down. If not, let’s sum it up: Kanye rocked up 40 minutes late, plugged in his laptop and pressed play on The Life of Pablo with the help of Young Thug, A$AP Rocky and Pusha T. It flowed pretty well, taking in gospel influences on ‘Ultra Light Beam’ (which features Chance the Rapper) and the synth-pop gloom of ‘Real Friends’ that echoed 808’s And Heartbreaks. The entire show happened in unison with the launch of his new line of fashion, which mostly consists of people wearing ripped blankets, but we’d like to admit we’re not a fashion website. Musically, The Life of Pablo worked well, sounding like new territory for Kanye as to not repeat the guest-heavy and elaborate My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy or the minimal but noisy Yeezus. There’s equal parts Kanye and equal parts guests, and Kanye drops them in like nobody’s business.
Kanye’s lines still take the most attention though. For example, the Taylor Swift-referencing ‘Famous’ which has attracted the most controversy over whether Taylor gave Kanye permission for the line or not. It shows that even after the pre-release controversy before The Life of Pablo, Kanye can still attract attention. He’s the biggest name of 2016 and none of this is by luck or media attention. Sure, the media attention has made Kanye a polarising figure, but he’s done all of this by himself and has proved that there is life in the music ‘star’ yet. The campaign for the album has been extraordinary, on par with how Donald Trump has tweeted his way to presidential candidacy. Kanye only has to tweet to get mouths moving, he doesn’t need the marketing or the label representation to make The Life of Pablo the biggest album of 2016. People will buy it because they want to know how this twisted story plays out. It’s a futuristic, innovative method of album delivery.
Not even a full day after the Madison Square Garden giant listening party, Kanye has dropped ’30 Hours’ along with a new extended tracklist. It’s almost as if the album doesn’t matter anymore, he’s still dropping tracks when the album is meant to arrive any second. It’s a slow-burning track, beginning with a sample of Arthur Russell’s ‘Answers Me’, where the lyric ‘where the eyelids go’ sounds very similar to ’30 hours’, before Kanye slots in some clean, organic drums into the mix. The track is as similarly introspective as ‘Real Friends’ was, with Kanye referencing back to an old relationship with ‘You was the best of all time at the time though / Yeah, you wasn’t mine though’. It’s a rare glimpse of the Kanye under the ego that doesn’t get enough track-time when he’s got less impressive songs like ‘FACTS’ which only uphold the media’s view of him as a bit of a man-baby. Who knows what could happen next? Is there even any point in us calling the album The Life Of Pablo? ’30 Hours’ could be taken down any minute. The fear of Kanye’s spontaneity is equal to Death Grips at this point.