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Stereo Embers’ TRACK OF THE DAY: Kanye West’s “Saint Pablo”

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Kanye West’s The Life of Pablo is a perfectly good album, but it seems that Yeezy himself has yet to come to that realization. He’s been tinkering with the album since it first debuted in early February. When it was first played at Madison Square Garden, it was a lean 10 tracks; now that number’s been ratcheted up to 19, but rather surprisingly, the album is still just as solid.

In fact, the record would have benefitted from the inclusion of yet another song in the form the newly released one-off single, “Saint Pablo.”

The six-minute cut, produced by Ye and right-hand-man Mike Dean twists a melancholic, swung-time piano phrase into a synth-smothered epic.

Flow-wise, the verses here are as simple as can be, but lyrically, Kanye’s in peak form. As on TLOP’s best songs, “Saint Pablo” finds him mixing brutally honest self-awareness with impossibly ridiculous bravado. The brags here are great (“This generation’s closest thing to Einstein / So don’t worry about me, I’m fine” is probably my favorite), but it’s the confessional moments that hit hardest; “God I have humbled myself before the court / Drop my ego and confidence that was my last resort,” he raps on the second verse, “I know he got a plan, I know I’m on your beams / One set of footsteps, you was carrying me / When I turned on the news, they was burying me.”

The subdued, downtrodden hook from UK singer Sampha is the perfect complement to Kanye’s world weary verses.

“Saint Pablo” is right up there with the best songs off TLOP as some of the best work Kanye has done since 2010’s My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy. Why the hell this track wasn’t included in the updated (maybe final?) version of The Life of Pablo that has now found it’s way to iTunes and all major streaming services is beyond me. Regardless, this is mandatory listening for anyone who can appreciate some ambitious hip-hop.

Stream “Saint Pablo” here: