“A living, breathing, changing creative expression,” is definitely an unorthodox way to describe an album.
But this is how Kanye West described his seventh studio album, The Life of Pablo, which initially released on February 14. I say “initially” because the album has been altered multiple times since its release, with the most recent version coming on April 1. Although most of the changes have been slight, such as audio tweaks to “Waves,” “Feedback,” “FML,” and “Fade,” these changes are noticeable.
The biggest change came in the form of the song “Wolves.” The original version of the song featured vocals from Sia and Vic Mensa, but the album version replaced this with a verse from Frank Ocean. After many fans (including myself) were upset that the original version of the song was changed, Kanye compromised by reverting the track back to its original, and by giving Oceans verse its spot, entitled “Frank’s Track.”
Perhaps the most controversial song on the album, “Famous,” had a line change that may seem insignificant, but helped improve the direction of the song. This verse two line was originally: “She be Puerto Rican Day parade waving,” and was changed to: “She in school to be a real estate agent.” This new lyric went much better with the following line of, “Last month I helped her with the car payment.”
There already have been multiple changes to The Life of Pablo, and Kanye’s record label, Def Jam, stated that Kanye’s album is “an innovative, continuous process. The album will be a living, evolving art project,” showing that there are more updates for The Life of Pablo in the near future.
This brings up an interesting question: should albums be altered? Kanye West is an extremely controversial artist and almost everything he does gets plenty of media attention. Kanye could be starting a trend for albums and artists of the future. Changing a product gets people interested in it again, but that doesn’t necessarily make it ok to go back and edit something. In another 5 to 10 years, will we still see revisions being made to this album?
Kanye has compared his album to a piece of art, and many people believe the title, The Life of Pablo, alludes to famous painter Pablo Picasso. But when artists showcase their art at a gallery, they don’t run around the room with a paintbrush, attempting to make last minute changes to their paintings.
By making these changes, Kanye shows his dedication to his work, and that he wants his work to stand the test of time. I think treating albums like living, breathing, ever-lasting forms of art can greatly improve the music industry. Although it may seem like cheating for an artist to go back and edit the parts that fans didn’t enjoy, that’s why music is so beautiful. It can change, it can grow, and as long as these changes are made for the right reasons, albums should be allowed to be altered.