Ultralight Beam sets stage for ‘The Life of Pablo’

Chance the Rapper: “I met Kanye West, I’m never going to fail.”

By Alec Lewis | Feb. 17, 2016

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Chancelor Bennett used to be a fan of Kanye West. The kid from Chicago’s West Chatham neighborhood in Chicago’s South Side used to listen to his albums, praise them and mimic them. Now he assists in making them.

Bennett, or Chance the Rapper, wore a Chicago White Sox baseball cap and Kanye’s Yeezy sneakers as he walked to center stage on Saturday Night Live last Saturday. It was his moment, 2 minutes and 35 seconds into the song “Ultralight Beam,” and everyone knew it — including Kanye.

“When they come for you, I will shield your name, I will field their questions, I will feel your pain,” Chance sang in a high-pitched, melodious tone. It’s the shifts in this verse that embody the song’s brilliance. The pass-and-gos, the ups-and-downs and the intense and soothing manner in which the song flows that gives the song a voice. It’s the first song on Kanye West’s newest album, “The Life of Pablo,” and arguably the best first song in Kanye’s album-making history.

“Ultralight Beam” provides something for everybody, but so does “The Life of Pablo.” Well, kind of. It’s an incredible piece of disorganization. The beats, the words, the songs — each of them fit seamlessly in a disjointed manner. And like it or not, it ultimately works.

This particular song, “Ultralight Beam”, begins and ends with Kanye himself but features numerous voices. The-Dream’s beautiful sounds seemed to embody the heavens, and in an album that hinted at life not on earth, it fit seamlessly. Also included, Kelly Price’s passionate plea transitioned perfectly into the stable and diversified nature of Chance the Rapper.

There was a backstory and leadup to this performance, though. After the much-awaited release of such this album and much back-and-forth between Kanye and his holders, the album was set to release Feb. 10 or 11. Then, Chance the Rapper made the first impact vouching for “Waves,” another highly acclaimed song on the piece. Kanye didn’t plan for it to be on the album for unannounced reasons, but Chance the Rapper applied last-minute pressure to include it. Some say that “Waves” is the best song on the album, but nobody can deny the brilliance in the album’s introduction.

As Chance the Rapper’s verse continues he says, “I met Kanye West, I’m never going to fail.”

With the aforementioned man behind him Saturday night, the man that tweeted earlier this week that he is $53 million in debt, the man that captivated the music industry for his seventh album, smiled.

So too did Chance the Rapper. The former kid and rising star stood together with the current star, and the people sat stargazing at their newest hit song.

Edited by Katie Rosso | krosso@themaneater.com

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