Label: G.O.O.D. Music, Def Jam
Released: Feb. 14
The Life of Pablo had the strangest release of any album—ever. Kanye West let loose his seventh studio album in February, debuting it at a release party/fashion show in Madison Square Garden. Then, over the course of months, he changed it. And changed it again. And again. Equal parts high-minded art installation and the consequence of West’s frenzied process, Pablo is the first album that uses the internet as a fully-realized medium, a piece of software its developer could patch updates to as he saw fit.
Like its rollout, Pablo is messy. It’s not a statement album; it doesn’t have the heft of MBDTF, or the tight, furious control of Yeezus. Instead, it’s an album of rough edges filled with second guesses, an album where the strangest things reach out to grab you. And, above all else, it’s an album of moments. Chance the Rapper’s star turn on “Ultralight Beam,” the drop in “Father, Stretch My Hands Pt. 1,” the meme-as-song “I Love Kanye”—they’re among the most memorable instants of 2016. It’s those moments of genius, taken together, that make Kanye, still, the most compelling rapper in the game. —Brendan Klinkenberg