Following a whirlwind of anticipation and false release dates, Kanye West finally released “Jesus Is King,” his ninth full length album on October 25, 2019. The album is heavily influenced by gospel music and christianity, and Kanye’s gospel choir group, “Sunday Service” appears all over the album.
2018 was a busy year for Kanye West, as he produced and collaborated on a number of projects like “KIDS SEE GHOSTS” with Kid Cudi, “Daytona” with Pusha T, and “Ye,” his own solo project.
Each album had a distinct sound and flavor to it, and Kanye has come to be known for making albums that sound very different from one another.
“Jesus Is King” follows this trend, as the album not only sounds completely different from his previous project “Ye”, where Kanye talks about his mental health issues, but the album is totally different than anything Kanye has ever made before. It is a blend of hip-hop and gospel music, with some of Kanye’s verses sounding more like church sermons than traditional rap lyrics.
Kanye is also starring in a short film/documentary in conjunction with IMAX called “Jesus Is King,” which accompanies the release of the album. According to the film’s trailer, the film is less for the purposes of entertainment and more of a glimpse into Kanye’s religious beliefs.
“We’re here to spread the gospel. I’m not here for your entertainment.” West says in the trailer. “I’m an evangelist, so my music, my films, every conversation, every room I go in, we’re here to save souls, save you from eternal damnation.”
This quote reflects Kanye’s recent shift in public appearances since his tirade of media controversy in 2018 in which he said that slavery was a choice, came out in support of Donald Trump, and gave one hectic interview after another.
Recently, however, Kanye has been trying to change his public appearance by embracing christianity, performing at Sunday services, and claiming to be devoutly religious all of a sudden. However, while Kanye’s messages may have changed, his ego and God complex are still quite apparent on “Jesus Is King.”
In the song “Hands On,” Kanye raps about how he is misunderstood and judged by the christian community, and this is nothing new for Kanye who frequently complains about being judged by the music industry in his music. On the song Kanye raps, “Said I’m finna do a gospel album/ What have you been hearing from the Christians/ They’ll be the first ones to judge me/ Make it feel like nobody love me.”
Grouping together the millions of people who follow the Christian faith and saying that they all dislike him is a huge generalization on Kanye’s behalf, as is saying nobody loves him. Even in a religious context, “Hands On” shows Kanye being overly dramatic in victimizing himself, something he has been very prone to doing throughout his career.
Kanye takes playing the victim a step further on “Selah” where he effectively compares himself to Jesus Christ, saying he was stabbed in the back by Judas. Again, a God complex is nothing new for Kanye, but disguising it in a song that is meant to praise God and the Christian faith seems not only blasphemous, but nonsensical.
Two of Jesus Christ’s most important traits are humility and forgiveness, but throughout “Jesus Is King” Kanye seems bitter and angry at the people who criticize him.
Despite the glaring issues with Kanye’s God complex on this album, “Jesus Is King” features some incredible production and interesting rhyme schemes. The album is full of triumphant gospel singing, and Kanye blends gospel music with hip-hop instrumentals in some pretty interesting ways.
On the third track of the album, “Follow God,” Kanye goes off rhyming an impressive number of phrases with “Christ-like.” The song “Closed on Sunday” is one of the standouts from the album, due to the chorus which goes, “Closed on Sunday, You my Chik-fil-A,” a clever, humorous reference that Kanye is known for.
The song transitions into an impressive vocal display in which Kanye sings an epic sequence of lyrics dedicated to the Christian God.
My biggest issues with the album was the lack of hard hitting 808s or bass lines, and the lack of profanity and controversial topics which Kanye usually includes in his albums. Throughout the project he seems to be trying to show everyone that he’s a changed, morally upstanding Christian, but he can’t help but come across as the same delusional and egotistical Kanye we all know.
I have to give it up to Kanye for making another album that sounds completely unique from anything he’s put out before, but if you are listening to this album expecting hard hitting rap songs, you will be left disappointed.