Kanye West Releases ‘The Life of Pablo’ Amid Controversy, Debt

By Sameer Rao Feb 15, 2016

The chaotic unveiling of Kanye West’s new album, "The Life of Pablo," has everybody talking. Some of the comments, including those from his closest collaborators, aren’t all that great. 

Ye premiered several songs in the run-up to what was slated to be Thursday’s (February 11) release, even as he changed the album’s title to "Swish" and "Waves" in back-and-forth fashion over the past few months. Album "promotion" involved, in true Kanye fashion, controversial Twitter rants. He first went after rapper Wiz Khalifa over a perceived slight. That episode provoked a response from Wiz’s and Ye’s mutual ex, Amber Rose, who has been a long-time target for Ye’s vitriol. He also defended comedian Bill Cosby, now on trial for multiple counts of sexual assault, with this tweet

Ye didn’t end up releasing the album in full on Thursday, but he did play a version of it during his New York Fashion Week show, "Yeezy Season 3." The extravaganza (which marked the first public appearance of Lamar Odom since his hospitalization last year) was streamed live from Madison Square Garden via Tidal and was simultaneously shown in movie theaters across the country. 

But even after that stunning show, the album release wasn’t complete, with Ye adding songs to the previously released track listing over the next couple days. What appears to be the final product can now be streamed via Tidal. The album went live following Ye’s performance on "Satuday Night Live," where he performed album cuts "Ultralight Beam" and "Highlights" with collaborators including Young Thug, Chance the Rapper, Kelly Price and Kirk Franklin. 

The album and its creator have generated controversy since its first play. A slight against old foe Taylor Swift on "Famous" renewed their public feud, with Swift’s rep claiming that her camp warned him against the song’s outright misogyny, which Kanye maintains that Swift approved the lyric. The song "30 Hours" provoked criticism of his public shaming of women and ex-partners—something that’s followed Kanye for most of his career. 

Frequent collaborator and Chicagon MC Rhymefest said that he stopped working with Kanye, tweeting the following evaluation of his former creative partner’s mental state:

To top it off, Kanye took to Twitter again (seeing a theme here?) yesterday (February 14) to ask Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg for $1 billion in investment money, saying that he’s nearly $53 million in debt. He followed up today with some shade at Zuckerberg and Silicon Valley cronies: 

What do you think will happen next in the Kanye-verse? Let us know in the comments. 

(H/t CNN, The Verge, Refinery29, The Atlantic, Bustle, The New York TimesVIBE, Billboard