It’s been more than a month since Kanye West released The Life of Pablo, but he’s still tinkering with it. Following what was perhaps the most exhausting and tortuous album rollout of all time, we should have known that the February 14th release of TLOP wouldn’t be the album’s last. Maybe we just wanted it to be over, but it’s never over with Kanye. The other day, after a reworked version of “Wolves” surfaced on Tidal, and Kanye tweeted: “Life Of Pablo is a living breathing changing creative expression.#contemporaryart.” This tweet best sums up what Kanye was after with his latest release — a piece of art that evolves and changes even after it’s been shared with the public. In the spirit of Kanye’s obsessive and perfectionist spirit, we’ve rounded up the five best changes that were made to The Life of Pablo. Who knows, there could be more coming.
Last week a Reddit user noticed extra vocal layering in the track “Famous,” featuring Rihanna. The first cut of the track samples Sister Nancy’s “Bam Bam” throughout and a Nina Simone song “Do What You Gotta Do” at the very end. On the newest cut, however, the sample from Simone’s track plays under the “Bam Bam” sample, adding more depth to the song through overlap. The change is barely noticeable, but it speaks to Kanye’s self-modifying mission as an artist who won’t settle for anything less than what he envisioned.
Out of the 19 tracks on The Life of Pablo, the song that has endured the most change is “Wolves.” Kanye debuted the track in February 2015 during his Yeezy Season 1 Show, and audiences were pleasantly surprised by the Vic Mensa and Sia features. Later that year in September, Kanye performed “Wolves” alongside Vic Mensa and Sia at SNL’s 40th Anniversary Show. When Kanye officially shared TLOP at Madison Square Garden last month, however, he scrapped Vic Mensa’s and Sia’s features and opted for an isolated outro by vocalist-in-hiding Frank Ocean.
The most recent cut of the track that surfaced on Tidal a few days ago finds West reverting to a version closer to the one he debuted at his fashion show and performed on SNL. Vic and Sia are back and Frank’s part has been separated into a stand alone track “Frank’s Track” that follows. The newest version feels more complete, especially since Vic Mensa’s and Sia’s shared darkness agrees with the song’s chilling atmosphere more than Frank Ocean’s sentimentality.
The name of the album
Nothing was more convoluted in the TLOP release than the album name, which changed countless times before West settled on the current one. Before he officially chose The Life of Pablo (and even then we weren’t sure if it would stick), So Help me God, SWISH and Waves were other possibilities Kanye shared with us and then revoked. (Though Kanye got some splashback for Waves,, he landed an important Max B co-sign on the recorded album itself).
Based on Kanye’s apparent desire to be different from everybody else, an obscure album title like The Life of Pablo boded well for the blanket of confusion he kept us under during the rollout. Quippy names like SWISH and Waves felt too basic anyway.
After Kanye dropped his album on Tidal, there was plenty of confusion as to whether that would be the album’s final format or if there would be a physical copy or download. Kanye West is a visionary, a man of the future, and CDs are a thing of the past. He sent out a tweet—as he loves to do these days—that succinctly answered that question: no more CDs. There you have it: cross off “CDs” next to “parties in L.A.” on the Kanye-endorsed list of “Things That Are No More.” As fans around the world began to accept their fates — that they would have to subscribe to Tidal after all — Kanye relished his own prowess and ability to singlehandedly crush one of the most enduring music formats and move things forward.
After Kanye had promised his album would be available on Friday February 12th, another complication further delayed the release further. Apparently Chance the Rapper was still in the studio touching up the track “Waves,” which hadn’t been included in the tracklistings Kanye had revealed up to that point. It’s a beautiful thing Chance fought for “Waves” to be included because it’s one of, if not the best song, on TLOP. The track boasts that infectious and uplifting Chance the Rapper spirit and Chris Brown lends a gorgeous hook to the chorus. It’s by far the most impassioned track on TLOP, aside from “Ultra Light Beam” and contains some of the album’s most poignant and inspirational lyricism.
I guess we should technically thank Chance the Rapper for this one, but iff we back up a few steps, it was Kanye who chose Chance to work on the song. So it all falls back on Kanye once again. Thanks Yeezy.