Did Kanye West Just Kill the Album?

Slate critic Jack Hamilton sees a 'full-scale attack'
By Neal Colgrass,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 21, 2016 7:00 PM CST
In this Feb. 11, 2016, file photo, Kanye West gestures to the audience at the unveiling of the "Yeezy" collection and album release for his latest album, "The Life of Pablo," at Madison Square Garden...   (AP Photo/Bruce Barton, File)

(Newser) The Life of Pablo may be something new: the anti-album. Kanye West's unorthodox rollout—renaming it from So Help Me God to Swish to Waves to The Life of Pablo, continuously changing the track list and cover art, still working on the song "Wolves"—suggests something is up. "The Life of Pablo is starting to feel like a full-scale attack on the very ontology of the album itself," pop critic Jack Hamilton writes at Slate. Pablo smashes the industry's prime sales model, the music critic's prime subject, and the album's "legitimacy as anything other than a nostalgia-driven anachronism," Hamilton adds. At the New York Times, Jon Caramanica asks whether "[there's] even a finished version of Pablo that will stand still long enough to comment on?"

Doesn't seem like it: Kanye mumbles on some tracks, making them sound unfinished, and recently changed lyrics in the song "Famous" (from "I feel like Taylor Swift still owe me sex" to the softer "I feel like me and Taylor might still have sex"). So why unravel the music industry's beloved format? Hamilton argues that it could be revenge against the Grammys, which have snubbed Kanye three times on Album of the Year and given him most of his wins against black, not white, artists. Kanye's "gorgeous piece of work" would even lose this year to Adele's 25, per Hamilton. "But that's only if he finishes it," Hamilton writes. "Until then, long live the life of The Life of Pablo, and may he always find something wrong." (See how Pablo has become a hot illegal download.)

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