Is Kanye West the Walt Disney of our generation? Well, if you ask him, the answer is obviously, yes. But he may be right. What other living artist do you know who possesses the ability to inspire creativity in others like Kanye? Just listen to Imagining “The Life of Pablo”, the latest project from TOYOMU. Because Tidal is not available in Japan, the Kyoto-based producer decided to create his own version of the album when it was still restricted to the streaming platform, utilizing lyrics taken from Genius and sonic building blocks gleaned from Whosampled.
Now available on Bandcamp, TOYOMU’s Pablo features atmospheric production combined with the actual lyrics, delivered courtesy of text-to-speech software voices. It sounds as much like the interlude from OK Computer as it does TLOP. “My own rap skill is worse than Ye,” says TOYMU, over email. “I found that [the computer] can flow.”
He’s not wrong. The lyrics are delivered either offbeat at a tempo determined by the speech software or using Ableton’s warp function to stretch or squeeze the vocals so that they are delivered at a correct approximation. The effect can be transformative. By pairing a moody keyboard riff with a Japanese-accented speaker reciting the lyrics to “I Love Kanye,” TOYOMU turns the track from an off-putting troll aimed at former followers into something that sounds like a wistful piece of fan mail. Other songs, like “Father Stretch My Hands Pt. 1” and “Freestyle 4” feel reasonably similar to their original counterparts.
TOYOMU believes Imagining “The Life of Pablo” transcends being purely a remix album, but he also doesn’t think of it as a profound art project. “I’d like everyone to feel some jokes and my idea for making a music in it,” he says, adding that with some songs, he didn’t even bother using the original samples.
Regardless of how you feel about Kanye West or The Life of Pablo, TOYOMU’s version is a rewarding listen. In fact, you’ll probably enjoy it more if you hate Kanye, especially since this version highlights Kanye’s sample selection game and mutes his sometimes alienating overconfidence. TOYOMU still hasn’t listened to the original, but now that it’s available for streaming and digital download across multiple sources, he does plan to do so soon. As he says, “I really would like to listen, ’cause ‘I still love K.A.N.Y.E.’”