The Panther Knows Best: How “The Life of Pablo” Changed the Public’s Perception of Kanye West


Michael Angee, Design Editor

On Feb. 14, 2021, Kanye West’s album “The Life of Pablo” celebrated its five-year anniversary. With a storyline following three personas Saint Pablo, Pablo Escobar and Pablo Picasso  West’s 2016 project solidified itself as one of the biggest moments in perhaps the most important year in modern rap history. 

West’s God-like reputation emerged after the release of “Yeezus” in 2013, which set the standard for Ye’s sound. On “The Life of Pablo,” however, West expresses a new concern for having more to lose than ever. 

Would West’s selfishness shine through the album? Or would his newfound closer connection to religion result in motifs throughout his 2016 project?

With over 100 people credited for the making of TLOP, West pulled elements from all of his previous works. References from his previous albums and viral moments, such as the 2009 VMAs incident with Taylor Swift, were also included in the album. 

The album, showcased at the third Yeezy fashion show in Madison Square Garden, saw a generally positive reception from critics and fans alike. 

Kanye demonstrated his growth as a musician and artistic skill on TLOP. From electronic music, soul samples and messages of self-indulgence, Yeezy matched his style perfectly with the mainstream music of the time, all while still staying true to himself. 

“I Love Kanye” shows West, self-aware of his current fanbase and acknowledging people wanting the “old Kanye.” In reality, Kanye had not become a different musician; he had only evolved over the course of his career and time within the industry. 

Additionally, although not formally diagnosed at the time, West mentions his experience with symptoms of bipolar disorder. Despite the absence of a concrete storyline, West tells the story of his three personas (mentioned earlier in the article) through the sequencing of the project. 

Track by track, the listener is subjected to the culmination of collaboration presented throughout the album. Collaborations on the album include production from Rick Rubin, Metro Boomin, and Mike Dean, as well as various guest verses from Kid Cudi, Desiigner, Rihanna, Young Thug and Chris Brown. These artists make up just a few of the 100 credited people on the project. 

“Father Stretch My Hands Pt. 1” shocked fans with appearances by Metro Boomin and Kid Cudi on the song. Kid Cudi’s hook combined with Metro Boomin’s monstrous beat created one of West’s best songs yet. 

“No More Parties In LA” shows West going verse for verse with Kendrick Lamar over a beat produced by Madlib. Madlib sent over 40 beats to West, but only released one song using his work and paired it with a feature from Lamar. 

Some of the most enjoyable moments from the album include tracks such as “Waves” and “Wolves.” The latter uses eerie production and features from Sia and French Monatana to create a sensation from the perspective of West’s rough past following the release of his 2008 album “Graduation.” 

After one of his most successful years, West met turmoil and distress after the death of  his mother and breaking up with fiance Amber Rose. West seemed to reminisce on the past through “Wolves.”

Although TLOP was a standout album in 2016, it is an even better listen now, as the nostalgia from the project creates an unmatched atmospheric experience.