This whole video—an SNL Kanye West performance of “Ultralight Beam” from his The Life of Pablo album—is pretty damn good and moving. But for the purpose of the following, just forward to the 3:15 mark.
“My daughter look just like Sia/ You can’t see her.” It’s a witty line Chance the Rapper slickly delivers (if you don’t get it, we can’t be friends. Go Genius it, then come back) during his verse.
Reacting to the bar, Kanye let’s out a joyful man squeal that basically can be translated into a half-second substitute for, “What a fucking line! Damn, he’s killing it!!!” That’s joy you see on his face when the camera switches to an angle that both shows Chance spitting and Kanye beaming, arm draped around The-Dream.
My point is this: Kanye, the creative, gets off on people getting off. It’s important to remember that he’s a producer first, meaning his job—one he clearly enjoys—is to make others shine. And his SNL “ULB” performance is an exhibition of that selflessness.
There’s nearly forgotten R&B singer Kelly Price blowing for Jesus on a stage she certainly wouldn’t be rocking on if not for joining a star of greater wattage like West. Same goes for Kirk Franklin, Dream, Young Thug and El DeBarge. El DeBagre, y’all!
Kanye’s Pablo is far from a singular effort. Rather, it’s masterful in its usage of umpteen featured guests. Rihanna, The Weeknd, Chris Brown, Ty Dolla $ign and Frank Ocean all make appearances among others. And they’re all showcased in their comfort zones, meaning that whether it’s Rihanna letting a guy amble away from her or Frank closing out the album with a thoughtful poem of sorts, they—for brief moments—own the songs they’re on.
It’s been a few days since Pablo came out. Wow, what a messy roll-out it’s been. But as usual, Kanye’s basking in the glory of critical acclaim and simultaneously backstroking in an ocean’s worth of backlash courtesy of tabloid celeb fodder, his own Twitter timeline, and Taylor Swift’s squadron.
I just wanted to take a little time out to bring the conversation back to what he does best, which is produce and galvanize. Pablo is a bunch of people getting together in rooms all over the world (Literally. Look at the credits) in the name of Kanye West and making some bomb audio art. I’m not mad at that.
So while many are out there clowning him for his public outcries for financial assistance and the means to create on a grander scale, I’m hoping he gets that help. People think Kanye’s some selfish attention whore that’s trying to load his pockets and feed his ego. But that can’t be right.
Again, look at the way he’s smiling when Chance is rapping.