Top 10 Kanye West Tracks

by ethan woodford (@human_dis4ster)

Kanye West is arguably the most famous musician alive today. While this is largely down to his notorious persona and marriage to Kim Kardashian, Kanye would never be where he is today if it wasn’t for his raw talent and ambition. For years Kanye lent his skills in production to countless artists, and while this was, and still is, his specialty, he only ever wanted to be a rapper.

However, perhaps a foreshadowing of how Kanye would push boundaries in his career, the first solo track he ever recorded was done with his jaw wired shut. The resulting track Through the Wire ended up on his debut album The College Dropout which propelled him to stardom and ultimately where he is today.

Kanye West is a unique artist in many ways, and this is what makes his music so special, in that each track has at least something interesting about it; even when he misses the mark, it is never for lack of trying. Since Kanye has so many tracks worthy of discussion and praise, it’s as good an excuse as any to list his ten best tracks and celebrate the genius of Kanye West.

10. All Falls Down

One of the breakout singles from his debut album, All Falls Down remains one of his best songs and also one of his most conventional. Featuring many qualities associated with his music such as gospel and soul influences, layered production and socially aware lyrics, this track was Kanye already at the top of his game.

Accompanied by the luscious vocals of Syleena Johnson covering Lauryn Hills’Mystery of Iniquity, Kanye proves his abilities on the mic with his now signature mixture of wit, observation, and aggression. All Falls Down focuses on the pitfalls of consumerism and more specifically, how the system fails black people. By showing his frustration with hard-hitting lines about racial inequality whilst also landing quips such as “Couldn’t afford a car, so she named her daughter Alexis”, Kanye proved his multifaceted versatility and claimed his place among hip-hop’s elite at the time.

9. Flashing Lights

While Graduation is perhaps Kanye West’s least significant record, it boasts his talent for writing infectious pop-rap bangers, such as Homecoming and this track, Flashing Lights. West’s skill for production is the main attraction here, the beat being one of the best he has produced.

Lyrically, Kanye vents his frustrations with a relationship with a woman, and it is likely there is a parallel between his relationship with the public as well. Talking about how he feels dictated by the other party in the relationship and how his actions are scrutinised, the track explores how this effects Kanye. When the hook changes point of view from second person to first person, it also shows Kanye is able to look at himself critically. Although it is ultimately just a short snappy single, it was widely praised for being a breath of fresh air to mainstream rap at the time and still over a decade later, it still maintains that freshness.

8. Love Lockdown

Three albums into his career and Kanye West was a pop star. However, following the death of his mother in 2007 and the subsequent break-up of his engagement to Alexis Phifer, his public image began to fade as he consistently became the object of scrutiny. However, he proved here that he can let his skills as a musician speak for him. He created 808s and Heartbreak, a completely new direction for Kanye and the new sound is well represented on the lead single Love Lockdown.

Gone were the soul samples and witty remarks synonymous with his work, and in its place was minimal instrumentation, auto-tune vocals and more of a singing delivery. While this song and the album as a whole still divides fans and critics today, Love Lockdown still serves as a breakthrough moment in his career and music in general. The track’s production incorporates a simple drum beat, which then moves into piano chords before the iconic African drums kick in for the chorus. Once again, Kanye’s skills as a producer come to the fore here as he paces the way for a whole new wave of rap and pop music while at the same time turning his grief and pain into the recipe for his own success.

7. Bound 2

Somewhat of an anomaly on Kanye West’s sixth album Yeezus, Bound 2 features the soulful samples and playful lyrics we have come to expect from Kanye but contrasts to the abrasive and dark sound found on the nine tracks that precede the album closer. However, due to the theme of the album, the track fits perfectly. Documenting the rise and fall of “Yeezus”, the album ends with a happy ending, as Kanye accepts his past that he details on the rest of the album and looks to the future, that being with his wife Kim Kardashian.

Bound 2 is a love song in the most Kanye way possible; it oozes his personality and humour and with that shows it’s sincerity. This doesn’t sound like a man convincing himself that he is in love, moreover, Kanye is ready to move on from his past and be a better person and with that, finally enjoy a healthy relationship. Bound 2 is often overlooked for its wacky sound and often hilarious lyrics, but this gives it endless charm and personality and it benefits from that.

6. Real Friends

In 2016, Kanye finally released his most anticipated album yet. The album’s release was unlike any seen before, as its every final touch was documented via his social media, including its multiple name changes and track additions, and now removals, eventually resulting in the release of The Life Of Pablo, which was still tampered with and added to after it’s release – even at the time of writing, it’s still being tinkered with. Despite all the hype, the album ended up being his most inconsistent, but with the egotistical lows, came the introspective highs, such as Real Friends.

Laid out over a sombre beat, Kanye reflects on how his current life course has affected his friendships and family relationships. Considering his public perception at the time, this track was completely unexpected as many had assumed he was no longer able to look at himself in such a critical manner. The credit goes to the uncertainty of the track, at points Kanye blames his friends, but then blames himself, and instead of being hypocritical, this shows the complexity of human relationships and how no one really knows how to balance everything and please everyone and this results in a stunningly human moment from Kanye even at his most famous status.

5. Hey Mama

Kanye’s close relationship with his late mother, Donda West, has been well documented both in the media and in his music. Nowhere else is his appreciation and admiration for her displayed so explicitly on Hey Mama from his second album Late Registration.

After the success of The College Dropout, Kanye no doubt felt compelled to include this song he wrote a few years earlier in his next project as his mother had always supported his decision to pursue a music career despite originally believing he should complete college. Debuting the song on Oprah with Donda in the audience, Kanye shows his humility in thanking the one person who believed in him. The song tells the story of how his mother provided for him and promises that he will always be thankful and ultimately admits “I just want you to be proud of me.

Listening to this track over a decade since his mother passed away and knowing how the shock and loss affected Kanye and how is seemingly still suffering, it is an emotional listen but a wholesome moment in his discography.

4. Gorgeous

Undoubtedly his best album, Kanye solidified his status as one of the greats with the release of My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy in 2010. While this list could have been the tracklist of that album, one stand out track is Gorgeous, a product of Kanye’s frustration with the racism prevalent in America.

Set over one of West’s most inventive beats, the sprawling guitar riff beautifully contrasts Kanye’s hard-hitting lyrics that express his frustration with racism in America. Perfectly executing his skill for mixing anger with humour, Kanye delivers some of his best verses on this track. Referencing everything from South Park beef to the theory that the government created AIDs to eliminate African Americans and featuring a guest verse from Wu Tang Clan’s Raekwon, the track personifies the hip-hop masterpiece that the album it comes from is.

3. Jesus Walks

Kanye continued to show his ambition on his fourth single, Jesus Walks. Told by everyone that a track about his belief on God wouldn’t get airplay, Kanye did what he wanted anyway and although this attitude has been hit and miss for him throughout his life, here it paid off and ultimately birthed his career.

The track features gospel samples and a classic Kanye beat as he discusses his own struggle with life and how his faith in God helps him through. From his first single, Kanye proved his ability to consider complex ideas such as redemption whilst still delivering a hit song with a catchy hook. Additionally, looking back at the track it seems to foreshadow his future work such as similar themes and the overlapping falsetto background vocals from Kanye himself that are reminiscent of future projects.

2. New Slaves

Yeezus is the album where Kanye showed that he really could do anything. Again going in a different direction than expected, the album featured jarring beats, violent and sexually explicit lyrics and boldly embraced his own ego.

New Slaves is arguably Kanye at his most creative, aggressive and passionate. Venting his anger at racism, especially in the fashion industry, the track sticks in your mind due to its raw power. Possibly his best verse ever appears in the latter half of the song and it has to be heard to be appreciated for its lyricism and sincerity. Ending the track stretching his vocal ability singing “I’m not dying and I can’t lose” as his vocals lead into a beautiful outro from Frank Ocean, the track claims its place as one of Kanye’s best.

1. Runaway

It’s no surprise why Runaway is often considered Kanye’s best track, and if not at least his most important in reflecting upon himself and his past. Looking back on his several failed relationships, Kanye rejects the toxic view that no one is good enough for him, but instead tragically releases it is himself that is the problem and that he needs to work on himself.

Opening with the now famous but still as haunting piano keys, the track has a chilling aura to it that is telling of Kanye’s admiration of Stanley Kubrick and the scores to his films. Kanye admits cleanly, and with no sugar coating, of the pain and hurt he has caused the people he loves and simply tells them to leave because he just is not good enough. The track ends with a long outro of initially indistinguishable lyrics that gradually clear up as Kanye sings the hook to the song once more, clearly full of emotion and sincerity. The distortion represents his own view of relationships and why he messes them up, but as his words eventually become understandable, it is clear that Kanye does have some heart, however, he now knows it’s up to him to find it on his own.

check out the tracks above in this handy playlist

RANKED: Kanye West

Kanye West is the embodiment of infamy: since day one, the Chicago rapper has brought controversy with him wherever he goes, dividing the public with his antics and rants. Despite this, it’s hard to think of an artist who has had more of an influence and impact on music in the 21st century quite like Mr. West had. To commemorate the man’s career thus far, everyone in the blinkclyro team has put their heads together, democratically voted and have had their say on the best and the worst of his discography. Quick disclaimer: this is, like, our opinion or whatever, dude. Disagree? The comments down below will house whatever rage you’re feeling. Without further ado, let’s get into our zone and rank…


9. Cruel Summer

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Yes, it’s a compilation. Yes, there’s filler. Yes, it’s not a perfect album by any stretch of the imagination but Cruel Summer delivers Kanye West in his “pure hits” form, bringing along his friends from the Good Music label for the ride and the results are worth your attention: Mercy.1 is a particular highlight, opening up with a haunting sample from Fuzzy Jones, and then there’s the mandatory appearance of DJ Khaled on Cold.1, backing up Kanye’s frosty flow with an equally chill beat. Cruel Summer is flawed, that there is no doubt about, but the album is still worth a listen to, regardless if it’s not essentially a “Kanye Album”.Liam Menzies (@blnkclyr)


8. Late Registration

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The only real fault of Late Registration isn’t really anything to do with the album itself. Unfortunately, it got sandwiched in-between The College Dropout and Graduation, two albums that are so vastly different that it makes LR’s task of standing out all the more difficult. LR still had the same heart and knack for making tunes but it felt like more of a music DLC than it did a full blown follow up to TCD. That aside, LR is still a fine piece of music, sadly given the position of forgotten middle child in the first trio of Kanye’s discography. – Liam Menzies (@blnkclyr)


7. The College Dropout

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West’s first album is often considered his best by some for its often humorous tone, impressive wordplay, and breathtaking sampling. When The College Dropout dropped in the middle of the bling era of hip-hop, it sounded like nothing the rap world had heard yet. Not only was Kanye’s lyrics on par, his production was incredible and was able to move it’s way into the mainstream pop market while still appealing to hardcore hip-hop heads. The now legendary Chicago artist was able to commentate on the education system in America while establishing a name for himself as a confident MC through hefty bars and catchy hooks. To this day, it stands out as one of the best hip-hop debuts of all time. – Ryan Martin (@Ryanmartin182)

Honestly, I expected this to be in a far higher position. Not only is The College Dropout one of Kanye’s wittiest and charismatic releases to date, it’s also one of his most polished, showing that right off the bat that West was capable of delivering great produced music much like he had done behind the scenes. Balancing bangers with introspective gems, as well as having the best Kanye West song of all time on it, The College Dropout gets my vote for being some of Kanye’s best work to date. – Liam Menzies (@blnkclyr)


6. The Life of Pablo
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“TLOP is probably now my most listened to Kanye album, really connected with it and loved how different it was.” – Will Sexton (@willshesleeps)

While he may have a tendency to have a social media breakdown just as regular as his wife will post a selfie and his ambitions may have resulted in him accumulating a great amount of debt, there’s no doubt a great sense of this being art. Just like the most prolific artists who put their blood, sweat, and tears into their work, Kanye has crafted a record that radiates hip hop greatness embedded with a gospel sound as well as his own, despite the few times he colors outside of the lines. – Liam Menzies (@blnkclyr)


5. Watch The Throne

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“Watch The Throne really reminds me of my early teens: Otis started playing on a music channel when I was abroad one year with my family and my sister and I still adore it five years later.” – Becky Little (@sometimesboring)


4. 808’s And Heartbreak

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“808’s and Heartbreaks will always have a special place in my heart because it was an album that came out at the perfect time when I was younger, listened to it on repeat.”  Will Sexton (@willshesleeps)

“808’s and Heartbreaks blew me away when it came out. It was one of the first CDs I bought with my own money so it’ll always have a piece of my heart devoted solely to it.” – Jake Cordiner (@JJJJAKETH)


3. Yeezus

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Abrasive, crude and sometimes angelic, Kanye created a beast of a record, unlike anything he has released thus far. Influences from alternative hip-hop to acid house fill the 40-minute album and make Yeezus the most shocking release in West’s career since 808’s. Yeezus’s lyrics range from harsh braggadocio to intensely sexual and stand out as some of West’s most controversial lyrics that can come off as cringey at times, while not throwing off the tone of the album. Despite West’s harsh lyricism, Yeezus is a dark horse that powers through from start to finish with such force. – Ryan Martin (@Ryanmartin182)


2. Graduation

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Graduation is, simply put, banger central. Big Brother, Flashing Lights, Stronger, Good Life, fucking HOMECOMING. Not the best produced Kanye album, nor the most advanced in terms of rhyming ability but I love it to death all the same. – Jake Cordiner (@JJJJAKETH)

Kanye’s third LP is, in my eyes, one of his weakest. However, the importance of context is on full display here as bearing in mind the time of Graduation’s release, autotuned braggadocious hip-hop was all the rave and Kanye seemed to be focused on flinging his hat into the ring. Hit after hit after hit, Graduation holds no punches on priding itself in Kanye’s ability to tap into the public’s minds and making their favourite new chart hit well before they even thought of it. I may not be its biggest fan but when you take it for what it is, it’s hardly a letdown.  Liam Menzies (@blnkclyr)


1. My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy

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“You can’t say anything about MBDTF that hasn’t already been said, and that’s a testament to the album. It’s easy to forget that people thought Kanye was done after the Taylor Swift incident but MBDTF is the way to respond. Don’t know any albums (from any genre) that sum up an artist’s personality as well as that record does, and when the artist concerned is Kanye West then that’s vividly entertaining, ranging from tracks as braggadocious as Monster to as vulnerable as Runaway.” Andrew Barr (@weeandrewww)

“Peak Kanye in all aspects, this album combines just the right amount of ego with typically impressive production and enough variety and scope to give us the best album Kanye could offer before and since and probably for the rest of his career.” – Ethian Woodford (@human_dis4ster)

Kanye reaches blissful highs on tracks like Lost in the World and Runaway to stadium anthems on Power and All of the Lights to the dismal grimy beats on So Appalled and Hell of a Life. With his 5th studio album, the legendary artist created not only his best album but one of the best hip-hop records of all time. With some of the best production of the decade, iconic lyricism and well-placed features, West created his magnum opus and topped both his earlier catalog and most hip-hop artists of this generation. – Ryan Martin (@Ryanmartin182)

“MBDTF absolutely speaks for itself, as a complete work it’s potentially the best album in history and it definitely has a fair shout in being the best hip hop album ever as well. Apart from HOV’s verse on Monster ” – Jake Cordiner (@JJJJAKETH)

“MBDTF speaks for itself, start to finish gold.” – By Will Sexton (@willshesleeps)


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ALBUM REVIEW: Kanye West – The Life Of Pablo

Controversial rapper provides a living, breathing messy piece of art

A common comment about any artist is that they’re not what they used to be, whether or not it’s a criticism depends on your own interpretation. In the Hip-Hop genre though it’s often a way to slate a rapper who has went against his original sound or image, whether it be selling out in order to make more money or throwing away any potential they once had in a bid to be more appealing.

It goes without saying that Kanye often bore the brunt of this. As his image constantly changed, his ego inflated and his sound began to mutate into something that, whilst still remarkable, was a far cry from what we heard back in his debut album The College Dropout.

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Just like his aforementioned image, The Life Of Pablo is an album that has never stayed consistent. Since its release in February, the Chicago rapper’s seventh LP has undergone various regenerations, most notably the recent update which followed the record being placed on streaming sites other than TIDAL. This constant evolution results in what can only be described as a self aware, messy masterpiece that is only set to get better as it ages.

This approach to albums is certainly refreshing and could change how we see music as an artform  but it’s certainly not an act of laziness on West’s behalf. The release of Real Friends back in January perfectly displayed the artist as someone who, while fueled by huge ambitions and claims, is a perfectionist at heart, tweeting “Un momento, there was a slight distortion in the main loop within Real Friends. It will be back up shortly. When it’s back up, all rippers please rip the new one instead”. Slag off his fashion career all you want but he’s not got careless.

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Real Friends represents more than just West’s work ethic though as both lyrically and instrumentally it stands out as a classic Yeezy track. In his most vulnerable position since My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, West voices his guilt regarding friends and family over a beautifully tragic sounding beat that ends with a poignant howl, evoking the same sadness and isolation that we have become accustomed to with Kanye’s more personal tracks.

This transitions perfectly into Wolves which bares the brunt of the reworking The Life Of Pablo has gone under. It isn’t just little sound adjustments like on the lyrically solid and appropriately titled Feedback but rather a whole new makeover, incorporating not only the original SIA and Vic Mensa verses but giving Frank Ocean his own individual track. “I’mma fix wolves” was a promise made repeatedly by West and it’s still not clear whether or not he’s just put a bandage on it.

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At times The Life Of Pablo sticks out as a greatest hits compilation rather than the next step for West which isn’t a bad thing considering his track record. There’s a definite cold sentiment to the Weeknd featuring FML that is reminiscent of 808’s while 30 Hours, which has definitely been downgraded since the original release, could slide onto the pink polo Kanye days with ease.

However, it does feel like the album is trying to say something personal which is more akin to My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy than any other release before this. Being free and liberated isn’t a message that is delivered heavy handedly and is a thread that continues over the running time, whether it be Kid Cudi saying it explicitly on Father Stretch My Hands or West’s desire to live a calmer life now that he’s a father on No More Parties In L.A.

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Unfortunately the lowest points of The Life Of Pablo seem to relate to this self portrait of Kanye. While the Taylor Swift line on Famous can be seen as a tongue in cheek piece of humour at best and a sexist remark at worst depending on what side you’re on, Facts give us yet another song that just feels like Kanye bitching about Nike yet again. Blips like this do result in a few worries that no matter how much updates this album goes through that it will still have some horribly dated moments.

While he may have a tendency to have a social media breakdown just as regular as his wife will post a selfie and his ambitions may have resulted in him accumulating a great amount of debt, there’s no doubt a great sense of this being art. Just like the most prolific artists who put their blood, sweat and tears into their work, Kanye has crafted a record that radiates hip hop greatness embedded with gospel and his own classic sound, despite the few times he colours outside of the lines.

8/10

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NEWS: Yeezy Streams First Single Off TLOP

Controversial Chicago rapper Kanye West has finally released his first single almost two months after his seventh LP came out.

The song in question Famous began streaming on Spotify and Apple Music yesterday, contradicting West’s promise to only offer The Life Of Pablo on Tidal. Famous stirred up a lot of controversy following the comments West makes about pop sensation Taylor Swift, stating that he thinks the two might still have sex cause “I made that bitch famous”.

This isn’t the only activity from West this past week as just this Easter he shared Ultralight Prayer, a play on words of TLOP’s opening track Ultralight Beam which is sampled. Yeezy isn’t going on  hiatus any-time soon either with Turbo Grafx 16 set to be released this Summer though no details about the LP have been given.

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Are We About To Witness A New Age For Albums?

Kanye’s The Life Of Pablo is being updated and changed weeks after release: could this be the new standard?

“Ima fix wolves”. These were the words uttered on Twitter by hip hop artist and self proclaimed god Kanye West mere hours after releasing his highly anticipated seventh LP The Life Of Pablo and unsurprisingly, this resulted in a bit of backlash. Some saw this as an inevitable outcome due to the amount of time Kanye had allocated to the release, others saw this as another opportunity to take shots at the ever controversial star.

However, could Kanye’s brilliant mistake be a blessing in disguise and shape the way we see albums as an artform?

Now first things first, let’s be clear here: I’m not the first to have this thought. In this day and age, there’s very little chance you’re going to say anything totally original unless you say something extravagant and idiotic like “oxygen is bad” or “I prefer Oasis to Blur”.Now that the default disclaimer is out of the way, it’s time to focus on the topic at hand which was brought on by this week’s surprise update to Kanye’s The Life Of Pablo. 

Although he had promised this for quite some time, this is also the man who said he’d release his album last year and look what happened there, eh? Adding a tweaked version of Wolves including Sia as well as an individual track for Frank Ocean, it’s safe to say that there was a great interest in the changes, so much so that Tidal had to extend the free trial for those who wanted to listen to Yeezy’s messy masterpiece.

Upon hearing of this, it seemed clear to me that Kanye had taken a page right out of someone else’s book. However, this wasn’t another artist he had copied but instead something else entirely: gaming. This isn’t hard to believe considering that West is planning an album named after a video games console and is making a game himself where the player leads his…dead mother…to the afterlife (another topic for another day, ok).

Anyway, a brief little history lesson. The year is 2010 and Square Enix release Final Fantasy XIV to overwhelmingly mixed reviews, some critics calling it “unfinished” (seeing a similarity here) which resulted in Square having to go back to the drawing board. What did they do? Made an entirely new version, updating huge chunks of the game and satisfying the demands of fans, all under the same title of “Final Fantasy XIV”.

This isn’t an isolated incident and infact is quite common place in gaming. While it’s becoming a criticism that some developers will send out huge Day 1 patches, the fact of the matter is that games nowadays are bigger than ever and these patches help creators make sure their product is to the best quality possible.

So could the same approach work for music? It’s not impossible as stranger things have happened: the rebirth of vinyl and the rise of streaming music would have been crazy talk if suggested a decade ago. Not only has the way we listen to music changed but the way it is released has too, artists like Radiohead and Death Grips deciding to take a different approach by allowing fans to pay as much as they want or releasing the album for free respectively.

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It’s a win-win result right? Perhaps not as there is some pretty understandable gripes, the standout one no doubt being, in my eyes, the fate of music journalism. If an artist constantly tweaks an album to their liking then every review becomes out of date almost instantaneously, meaning those who tend to rely on these critics might be put off from giving these albums a listen.

Then there’s the argument that it could excuse an artist’s incompetence, meaning that any sort of criticism could be retorted with “it’ll get sorted with an update”. Some will say that updating an album means that it doesn’t give them time to age and develop as it becomes a piece of contemporary art.

Despite all of this, the idea of an artist being able to update an album even after its release without charging the listener a penny is an interesting one indeed. Already there will be an artist somewhere coming up with some sort of ridiculous concept album that will benefit from this approach. Not only will it allow for some creative outbursts but it’ll help extend the lifespan of an album as even after the likes of The 1975 and Kendrick Lamar dropping releases, The Life Of Pablo has remained relevant.

The Life Of Pablo is a very fitting name, Kanye learning and improving it by ironing out all the problems some have came out with. Whether you think this will result in certain enjoyable quirks being removed or a genius move, music has proved once again why it’s the most exciting piece of entertainment.

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Kanye West – The Life Of Pablo ALBUM REVIEW

YEEZY SEASON APPROACHING

An album as lazy and messy as it is pristine and beautiful, Kanye follows up his 2013 LP Yeezus with less chicago drill and more ego fueled quips and tongue in cheek humour.

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