The Gospel According to Kanye West?
Review: The testimony of Ye
It’s been the most fascinating journey to watch one of the loudest imperfect humans begin to know Christ. Kanye West was lost and he will be the first one to tell you that. He is the same person who a year ago sang the explicit song, ‘I Love It’ ft. Lil Pump, to later suffer a public nervous breakdown and then open up about his struggle with mental illness. He then started a Sunday Service and in a culmination of his journey so far proclaimed he is saved because Jesus is King, which poignantly is the title of his latest album.
‘Jesus is King’ is Kanye’s testimony. With only 11 songs, this album follows the trend of the recent short albums he has produced for Pusha T, Teyana Taylor, Nas and his own album ‘Ye’. Keeping the album short and punchy has shown to be successful. The album has topped the Billboard 200, the Top Christian Albums, Top Gospel Albums, Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums and the Top Rap Albums charts. It is the first album to top all five charts.
‘Jesus is King’ has gotten mixed reviews, especially from his fans. People were shocked of how faith drenched the album really was, it’s almost jarring the complete flip he has taken with his music and lyrics. Then again it isn’t as though he didn’t warn us, he announced earlier this year that he was done with making secular music and gospel music now is his main focus.
Honestly I, along with most of his fans, have probably not listened to a gospel album back to back. Some never have listened to Christian music before and suddenly through this, he has reached millions with a message. And not just any message, a clear proclamation of what Jesus has done for him and what he can offer everyone…salvation. That is something quite powerful.
So is the album any good? Short answer: it has its moments and gets better with every listen.
The opening song ‘Every Hour’ resets the canvas with the Sunday Service Choir welcoming the audience to church.
‘Selah’ comes next and dashes any hope of his never released album Yandhi to come out. For those who don’t know he was supposed to release it at the end of 2018 and was continually postponed before he scrapped it for ‘Jesus is King’.
On ‘Selah’ Kanye raps, “They wanted Yandhi then Jesus Christ did the laundry.”
He goes on to reference John 8.33 as he continues to explore the concept of freedom. A recurring theme which he delves deeper in his interview with radio host Big Boy on free thought and refusing to let people tell him who he should vote for because he is black or Christian. He doesn’t want everyone to agree with him wants people to be able to agree to disagree.
“We are the descendants of Abraham,” they answered, “and we have never been anybody’s slaves. What do you mean, then, by saying, ‘You will be free’?” – John 8.33
He again references the same sentiments in ‘Closed on Sunday’ by rapping, “No more living for the culture we nobody’s slave.”
‘Follow God’ is a personal favourite on the album as it managed to bridge the different versions of Kanye, we’ve heard over the years. The song has his signature style of rap and unmatched producing with his revitalising sense of Christianity. It also gives insights to his relationship with his once estranged dad, who also made an appearance in the newly released music video.
‘Water’ signals a turning point in the album to a more traditional gospel section. This song is one of the most emotional and, if you really listen, is a raw plea for cleansing.
On ‘Hands On’ he shares how he has turned away from the Devil and how people especially from the Christian circles are skeptical of his motives.
“Told people God was my mission.” Kanye raps “What do you hear from the Christians, they be the first one to judge me make it feel like no body love me.”
‘God Is’, ‘Use this Gospel’ and ‘Jesus is Lord’ are the praise songs that close out the album.
So is Kanye a preacher now? In his interview with Beats1 Radio’s Zane Lowe at Kanye’s Wyoming ranch, Kanye admits, “I’m not a theologian, I’m a recent convert.”
He went on to talk about his motivation.
“Everything I do, even designing a shoe, is for the Church… It’s my only mission and calling, is to spread the gospel,” said Kanye.
While we see glimpses of humble Kanye, in the same interview he still managed to call himself, “the greatest human artist of all time.”
Either way this seems to be just the beginning of his journey as now not only an outspoken artist and but outspoken Christian.
Jesus is King is streaming now on Spotify and Apple Music.