'Life of Pablo may be the best hip hop album ever?"
My friend's texts may contain a little hyperbole, but so do mine to him. It's a fun way to communicate because it allows you to classify things from 1 to a million instead of 1 to 10. You can make more room to properly analyze what you're talking about.
So clearly he's serious. He continues:
"and I hate Kanye"
It's interesting to me that this is how I was talked into listening to Kanye's latest musical effort.
And I say effort because if you listen closely to it you can really tell just how much elbow grease went into making it. Possibly the most ever.
That I had to be talked into it is interesting to me, for one, because he's a really successful, well-known artist. He designs all sorts of things, and I've seen him in at least one short film, which was pretty artistically cool.
He makes good connections and has good vision in the industry. He's jumped all over young new producers, using his platform to lift the veil off of these new stars. Hudson Mohawke, for example, was known only to a small crowd in the U.S. before his heavy involvement with Kanye's 2013 album Yeezus made him a mainstream name over here.
I guess it's his off-the-mic antics that had me tuning out.
"Taylor, I'm-a let you finish..."
Anyway, my friend Colin has turned me on to all kinds of great new music. I've learned to trust his guidance, so I fired up Life of Pablo right away. He's the type of friend who enjoys getting you hyped about stuff, whatever it may be. Because of Colin, I now watch the Tour de France, can differentiate between old oak and new oak wine barrels by taste, and I crave insanely thinly-sliced prosciutto. He's a good influence.
So I gave Pablo a try. And... omg.
The whole thing is so masterfully produced, it's really one of those rare albums you can listen to all the way through. You never have enough complaints to skip tracks. This is a properly mastered album, one that sounds the same across all the songs, while maintaining the individual characters of the tunes and interludes.
Just released in February, the album's got radio hits, contemplative ballads and freestyle brilliance. It's got a track that is surprisingly self-aware and a chipper "bonus track" with the classic Kanye wink of charm. The song "Real Friends" completely floored me with its incredibly poetic lyrics. I mean if I'm being honest here, I think Kanye has steadily improved over the years and this is his best work ever.
To top it off, underneath it all lies a brilliant web of cutting-edge beats from the likes of HudMo, Rick Rubin and Mike Dean. The list of vocalists featured is jaw-dropping.
Give it a proper listen on some good equipment. It may just be the best hip-hop album of all time.
Read more Taylor: coloradodaily.com/columnists.