Then things get really messy
After the stunning "Wolves," the Frank Ocean-featuring track that may never be finished, the record begins to feel like a series of bonus tracks. "No More Parties in LA" is fun but inconsequential to the whole. "Facts" should've stayed in his drafts folder. "30 Hours," a hypnotic shit-talking session built around an Arthur Russell sample, sounds like the type of song that would've made for the perfect posse cut in the perfection-chasing MBDTF era, but here Kanye just calls out to Andre 3000 for a small backing-vocal contribution. He goofs around. It sounds like he's having fun.
Those rare moments of levity and joy help alleviate the psychological stress of this record. Obviously, none of this is clean or tidy. Kanye's reputation as a jerk is still safe -- lines like "My ex says she gave me the best years of her life/I saw a recent picture of her, I guess she was right" won't change that -- but, like Dark Fantasy, it again asserts his genius at a time when wolves were at the door.
The Life of Pablo has a messy quality, like a sermon that starts with the preacher bathed in light, before descending into hell, and ending in a state of bleary-eyed confusion. As he says on the first track, it's a God dream. It's everything.
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Dan Jackson is a staff writer at Thrillist Entertainment and he still thinks So Help Me God was the best title but oh well. He's on Twitter: @danielvjackson.