Kanye's second child Saint was born in early December, and there's something distinctly preoccupied about this whole project—it feels wry, hurried, mostly good-natured, and somewhat sloppy. Like a lot of new parents, Kanye feels laser-focused on big stuff—love, serenity, forgiveness, karma—and a little frazzled on the details. "Ultralight Beam" opens with the sound of a 4-year-old preaching gospel, some organ, and a church choir: "This is a God dream," goes the refrain. But everything about the album's presentation—the churning tracklist, the broken promises to premiere it here or there, the scribbled guest list—feels like Kanye ran across town to deliver a half-wrapped gift to a group birthday party to which he was 10 minutes late.
This is probably the best review I've read of TLOP. This is the only assertion that I disagree with:
The Life of Pablo is, accordingly, the first Kanye West album that's just an album: No major statements, no reinventions, no zeitgeist wheelie-popping.
The way TLOP was and/or is in the process of being released is the big deal here. In five years or so, I think we'll look back at this moment and realize that this was when the gate officially came crashing down on the old way of doing these kinds of things.