Why Did Kanye Change 'T.L.O.P.'s Title So Much?

by Emily Lackey

Whether you love Kanye West or hate him, it's impossible to deny: The rap artist gives the Internet plenty to talk about. What would the world be like without Kanye West announcing his intent to run for president in 2020 during the MTV VMAs, or without him going on a rant that makes absolutely no sense, or without him surprising us all with a fashion line at New York Fashion Week? Really, it's impossible to ignore West — especially when he's in the midst of attempting to drop a new album. One of the biggest things that caught attention during his release of The Life Of Pablo was the number of times changed the album name before settling on the final title — because it was a lot of times. So, it's worth asking: Why did Kanye West change his album title three times?

It’s one of the world’s biggest questions, and yet, sadly, we may never know.

Even though West has been public about his album name changes — his new album has gone from being titled So Help Me God to SWISH to WAVES before West finally settled on The Life of Pablo (or T.L.O.P.) — it’s been a little confusing to those of us sitting idly by, waiting for his new album to drop. The constant changes had a ton of fans, myself included, wondering why exactly would West be altering his album name so late in its production process. And, furthermore, why would he make it so public?

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Well, I have a couple of theories. The first is a little optimistic, but one that I believe in pretty strongly. We all know that Kanye West is the ultimate perfectionist, so the album name change might have something to do with the fact that he’s reluctant to settle on one that might not seem 100 percent perfect to him. Maybe he tried out the other album titles for the day or two that they lasted, and realized soon after that they weren’t quite right.

I can get behind this — after all, an artist’s work is never done, and West would deign to call himself anything else but an artist. Revision never ends. And, as a writer, I totally get that. I still read things that have been edited and published years ago, and wish that I could change a word or rearrange a title. Letting go of your work is hard — and the minute that album is officially released is the minute West has to relinquish control over his masterpiece. Once he releases it, it doesn’t belong to him anymore, it belongs to the world. For a man who seems to be very careful in crafting his art, the constantly-changing title might be a way for West to delay letting his album be set free into this wild, wild world.

But, I also could be thinking a little too optimistically — after all, this is the guy who announced his plans to run for president on a whim. An alternate theory is that, perhaps, the album was always supposed to be titled The Life of Pablo, and West maybe ran through the gamut of other names publicly for different reasons. I mean, ask anyone who works in public relations, and they'll be quick to tell you that promotional materials and album cover mock-ups take a long time to put together — it'd be a difficult feat for West to pull off changing his album title literally a week before its intended release when you think about it in those terms. But, if the title was always supposed to be The Life Of Pablo, why would West go through all the other names first? I don't believe it would have been for publicity, since West certainly doesn't need to pull any stunts to garner attention — but, perhaps, it was for some sort of "performance art"? Now that I wouldn't put past West.

Whatever his reasoning, I have to say: All of this hype and talk surrounding the album totally has me desperate to hear it.