Top 40 of 2016: #32

TSJ: My biggest problem with The Life of Pablo is that Kanye won’t get out of his own damn way: remove his vocals from it, and it’s a much better album. His production across it is superb and compelling, as are most of his guests’ appearances. It’s just that his verses are tired and generally go nowhere and he won’t shut up. But musically and even conceptually, what I hear on Pablo is what a lot of folks seem to hear on Chance the Rapper’s Coloring Book, struggling with dark and light, and including some gospel influences. “Fade” is a highlight of Pablo. It’s a reminder that Kanye is, in fact, from Chicago, and thanks to his exceedingly wide artistic palette has accordingly been influenced by classic Chicago house as much as hip-hop, sampling as it does Mr. Fingers’ “Mystery of Love,” along with both Barbara Tucker’s “I Get Lifted (The Underground Network Mix)” and Hardrive’s “Deep Inside” (which itself samples Tucker’s vocal, the latter two both helmed by Masters at Work’s Louie Vega). And then on top of all that, and the vocals-turned-into-a-refrain sampled from Rare Earth’s “I Know I’m Losing You,” ‘Ye even calls out a verse from Aaliyah’s “Rock the Boat”! (The Genius page annotating the “Fade” lyrics is exceedingly helpful in breaking all this down.) “Fade” is less a song — in songcraft terms, it’s almost more of a sketch — than a piece of conceptual art, a collage. This is some museum-quality shit right here. So put “Fade” up in the Art Institute of Chicago alongside their Andy Warhol collection, ’cause that’s where this belongs. 


About thomasinskeep

I write about music.
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