AOTY 2018

The Life of Pablo

Kanye West - The Life of Pablo
Critic Score
Based on 34 reviews
2016 Ratings: #140 / 758
Year End Rank: #6
User Score
2016 Ratings: #62
February 14, 2016 / Release Date
LP / Format
GOOD, Def Jam / Label
Hip Hop, Pop Rap / Genres
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Your Review


Pretty Much Amazing

Pablo may come just shy of being his greatest achievement (My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy holds onto that distinction), but it’s the grandest distillation of West’s world-swallowing artistic vision, a sum of its superlative elder siblings.

A.V. Club

It feels far different from any of the tightly constructed, singular works of West’s past, and from a sonic standpoint, it sounds almost like a greatest-hits collection of nearly every sound and musical idea that he’s cultivated up to this moment.

NOW Magazine

Most pop stars are content with a me-against-the-world mentality, but The Life Of Pablo posits a mantra more like me-against-myself, expressed as a mainline rush of gospel, rap, soul, house, noise and pop, and full of digressions into the highest highs and lowest lows.


A madcap sense of humor animates all his best work, and The Life of Pablo has a freewheeling energy that is infectious and unique to his discography. Somehow, it comes off as both his most labored-over and unfinished album, full of asterisks and corrections and footnotes.


If The Life of Pablo is about anything, it’s about the absurdity of being Kanye West.

Rolling Stone

It's a labored-over opus that wishes it were a mixtape, trying hard to curate the vibe of a sprawling mess, and that's because it's made by an artist who feels like a mess and doesn't care to hide it.

Northern Transmissions

The Life of Pablo is an album that needs no introduction.


Pablo could easily be confused for a collaborative album. It’s as if Ye said, “OK, ya’ll tired of hearing me rant? Well listen to how dope the rest of your favorite artists sound when Kanye is conducting.”

The 405

After seven manic albums attempting to prove his perfection, Kanye is seeking penance on The Life Of Pablo. Here, he delivers 18 heavenly hymns. It's everything else that needs forgiving.


In its utter madness it somehow forms a coherent picture of Yeezy’s unhinged genius.

Entertainment Weekly

A right-now snapshot of a restless, neurotic artist’s ever-evolving psyche. Like the man himself, the album is emotional, explosive, unpredictable, and undeniably thrilling.


A genius - and yes, perhaps a little bit crazy - with an attention to detail like no other, no matter what might slip from his grasp, Kanye West is in full control of every atom of ’The Life Of Pablo’. 

Drowned in Sound

Our political leaders may no longer present themselves as gods, but our rappers do. The Life of Pablo proves that sometimes they give us our Taj Mahals too.

More an obscure self-portrait than a Picasso masterpiece, ‘The Life Of Pablo’ retains its author’s status as the most interesting man in music. But he makes it seem like harder work than the effortlessness we’re used to.

As glacially paced, mood-enhancing music, Pablo is a hypnotic slam-dunk and this reviewer will be among those first online if an all-instrumental edition finally surfaces on Vocaroo, because over the long haul ‘Ye the MC here proves as elusive as the proverbial Cheshire Cat.

Slant Magazine
Kanye is the rare artist who can turn a cry for attention into something more: a distillation of his artistic output to date that’s quintessentially Kanye, whether you like him or not.

T.L.O.P. does the perfect job of showcasing what makes Kanye brilliant — excellent production mixed with creative samples and his Quincy Jones-esque ability to get the best work out of some of music’s most talented artists.

Crack Magazine

The Life Of Pablo is a frustrating but undeniably engaging listen – dazzlingly unpredictable and fleshed out with enough strokes of radiance for us to follow Pablo’s lead and keep the faith.

The Needle Drop
Kanye West tries to sell a lack of cohesion and half-baked song ideas as concepts on his new album.
FLOOD Magazine

A mighty weird “gospel album” wallowing in contradiction, a collection of music that acts as if music itself couldn’t have possibly existed before it.

The Line of Best Fit

The Life Of Pablo isn’t the greatest album of ‘life’, ever, or even the best album of Kanye’s career. But at times he’s still the most adventurous artist of his generation. And the most frustrating.


The Life of Pablo is a fucking mess—the scattered, contradictory work of an icon straining to keep up with his own brilliant pace.


The other way to look at the erratic Pablo is as an "instant" LP, one that was mastered at the last minute and debuted via streaming. On that count, it's a fascinating, magazine-like experience with plenty of reasons to give it a free play.


It remains a modern gospel that is undeniably West's own, with a handful of vexatious moments peppered throughout the undeniably visionary ones.

God Is in the TV
‘The Life of Pablo’ is a perfect summation of where West is in his career and life right now – it’s varied and certainly not consistent, but even at its lowest ebb there’s a talking point. He might talk a lot of shit but at least he’s good at what he does.
The Guardian

When The Life of Pablo is good, it’s very good indeed. What it isn’t is consistent. Perhaps it’s the sound of a man over-reaching himself. Perhaps it’s a document of a mind coming increasingly unglued.


For a rapper who has excelled in redefining the artform, The Life Of Pablo is a sprawling, uneven and curiously unfinished sounding affair with a dearth of recognisable bangers.

Tiny Mix Tapes

“No, art is not done to decorate apartments. It is an instrument of war.”

The Skinny

West wants everything, equally we expect everything, so the result is exhilarating in its instability. The Life Of Pablo is bursting at the seams with ideas and talking points.

The Telegraph

It is so self-involved it crosses over into self-delusion, marked by such a tangible absence of perspective and objectivity it is as if he has actually lost sight of the elemental basics of his art.

Spectrum Culture

The album is almost workmanlike, a reflection of the artistic process of its creator rather than a grand statement of intent.

Consequence of Sound

Pablo’s failures are not the result of a single narrative, but in the attempted combination of all the narratives of his life. It’s the result of attention spread too many places, of perfectionism turned to over-tinkering, of an artist pushing himself to hit a self-imposed deadline, of working in the limelight rather than in the shadows.

Under The Radar

The ultimate feel of the record is more like a mixtape than a completed album, and while the former would be interesting and welcome, as the latter The Life of Pablo is a crushing disappointment.


Sure, The Life of Pablo‘s obscurities and eccentricities make it ripe for endless dissection by West’s fans and followers, but make no mistake: this albums is flawed, it’s problematic, and most of all, it’s no masterpiece.

FINAL EDIT: uninspired and nothing new from kanye. i like it, but cant say its a hit anymore. very high highs, and very low lows.

EDIT: reading my original review made me cringe. 2 months after the release of this LP, i have some change of opinion. i still love this album. i think it's great, and will likely be one of my favorites of 2016. but the flaws are so apparent to me now. yes, the new mix definitely did tlop justice, however that doesnt change some of the shitty lyrics and ... read more
Negative reviews love these buzzwords: "MESSY," "ECLECTIC," "MIXTAPE." However, none of those reviews entertain these possible unifying elements.

1) Tracks from Ultralight Beam to Feedback flow both musically and thematically. First ULB foreshadows the emotional struggles that appear later in the album. ULB expresses hope that will be tested as the album progresses. ULB gives a sense that Kanye is on a sacred mission, riding on this "ultralight beam." ... read more
PATCH 1.2 EDIT: New mix nicely clears up the compression polluting a lot of these tracks. Moments like the choir vocals on 'Ultralight Beam' used to be the equivalent of getting stabbed in the ear, but now they're tolerable.

The Life of Pablo shows Kanye at his most delusional by compiling a bunch of demo-worthy tracks into what he calls the "album of the life." I get that it intends to sound like a disjointed mess, but I can't see how that's supposed to make it great or even ... read more
Honestly, I'm a bit disappointed. Not only as a fan of Kanye, but as a fan of music. All of the tweets by Kanye leading up to the release of The Life of Pablo aka "album of the life" led me to believe this really might be one of Kanye's greatest efforts yet, but it's just not. For every great point on this album, there's an extremely underwhelming point, as well. This album is literally like a mixtape in the sense that the artist creating it puts a collection of tracks on it that they ... read more
It takes 45 seconds for Mr West to make us temporarily forget the interminable car crash that has been the album rollout for So Help Me God/SWISH/Waves/T.L.O.P./The Life of Pablo, with its crowd-sourced and crowd-ignored title and tracklist changes, its deeply questionable twitter pronouncements, and its bizarro-Madison Sq Gdn-refugeezy camp-haute-couture-listening-party. At the 45-second mark, that kick drum knocks on the doors of heaven and Ultra Light Beams announces itself as one of the ... read more
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Track List

  1. Ultralight Beam [ft. Chance the Rapper and Kirk Franklin]
  2. Father Stretch My Hands Pt. 1 [ft. Kid Cudi]
  3. Father Stretch My Hands Pt. 2 [ft. Desiigner]
  4. Famous [ft. Rihanna]
  5. Feedback
  6. Low Lights
  7. Highlights [ft. Young Thug]
  8. Freestyle 4 [ft. Desiigner]
  9. I Love Kanye
  10. Waves [ft. Chris Brown]
  11. FML [ft. The Weeknd]
  12. Real Friends [ft. Ty Dolla $ign]
  13. Wolves [ft. Frank Ocean and Caroline Shaw]
  14. Silver Surfer Intermission
  15. 30 Hours
  16. No More Parties in LA [ft. Kendrick Lamar]
  17. Facts (Charlie Heat Version)
  18. Fade [ft. Post Malone and Ty Dolla $ign]
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Added on: January 8, 2016