Why Yeezy’s New Album Should Have Been Called, “Kanye Is King”

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The rapper’s ninth studio album is a gospel inspired effort that feels, well, uninspired at best

After a number of false release dates and teased snippets, Kanye West finally gave us his gospel inspired album, Jesus Is King. While uncharacteristically being completely clear of explicit lyrics, Jesus Is King is not a sonic departure from the West’s typical sound. Borrowing elements from My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, Ye, and The Life of Pablo, Yeezy’s new album contains healthy doses of bass, trap drums, and pop melodies.

Of course though, spiritual awakenings are nothing new from pop artists. In recent decades, we’ve seen a number of artists walk away from secular music in favor of more spiritually inspired music, which quite frankly, is awesome. In the 1970’s, Bob Dylan became a born again Christian and released a few Christian songs before returning to his more traditional themes. MC Hammer released songs like “Pray” and “Do Not Pass Me By.” Former Kanye collaborator Lupe Fiasco’s muslim faith often permeates his music, as does the Christianity of Chance the Rapper. All that goes to show that Kanye’s spiritual revival is nothing society hasn’t seen before.

Jesus Is King was set to release on September 29, 2018, but was later pushed back to November 23, 2018. Near the end of November, the album was pushed back indefinitely. Later in 2019, Kim Kardashian announced that the album would be released on September 27, 2019. This date, once again, came and went with no explanation by West or Kardashian. After four blown release dates, the album was finally released on October 25, 2019. During this year of confusion for Yeezy fans, West was parading around the country hosting a series of “Sunday Services.” And while these Services were meant to mirror a traditional Christian worship service, they really ended up being an effort to promote the upcoming album. And that, is where things get tricky.

At West’s latest Service at a church in Queens, New York, the spiritual mark was missed and viewers got to see just how the artist truly views himself. As the preacher wrapped up his sermon, the crowd began to swell and squirm with the anticipation of West’s appearance. Once Kanye finally arrived (late, as we’ve come to expect), the experience was breath taking, but likely the reason why several regular members of the church got up and left in the middle of the performance. The Yeezy-inspired choir was breath-taking and Kanye jammed on the keyboard, occasionally rapping lyrics from his secular songs that had been repurposed to be more religious. During this performance, and yes, I do mean performance, West portrayed the level of egotism that we have all come to expect. And sure, Yeezy has taken a new approach with this supposed passion for Christianity, but for those who have attended one of his “Sunday Services,” the way in which he has deified himself with these “religious” proceedings cannot go unnoticed. All this goes to show that today’s church has strayed far from truth, and as we saw in Kanye’s services, people will dance and wave their hands to the tracks of a secular artist, but stand in a bored daze when classic Christian hymns take the stage. Sadly, in today’s culture, we worship and idolize celebrities, but push aside the True Gospel, fixating ourselves on lies and consequently losing sight of what actually matters.

Kanye West hosting one of his Sunday Services at a cathedral in Queens, New York

As Kanye was leaving his performance in Queens, fans, with their Yeezies on, chased West’s car until it had left the lot. These “Sunday Services,” although very inspiring for a younger generation through relatable music and celebratory dancing, miss the mark of a truly spiritual experience. Instead of a spiritual revival, Kanye’s Services seem more akin to a high concept of musical performance disguised as religious, all in the name of profit.

From the man who notoriously proclaims that “I am a god,” what has changed? Kanye has been pitching that Jesus Is King is the moment in which he sets aside his ego and dedicates himself to a higher power. Thing is though, throughout the entire album, the scale tips more toward Kanye than it does Jesus; it’s about Jesus’ proximity to Kanye, but not vice-versa. At the core of the album, Kanye is only occasionally interested in seeking God’s grace, and is far more preoccupied with nailing himself to a cross.

In an interview about Jesus Is King, Kanye stated that, “I didn’t know how to rap for God,” but with assistance from a team of collaborators, he was able to realize his vision of a curse-free album. In the fifth track, “On God,” Kanye calls himself “the greatest artist restin’ or alive.” This seems quite contrary to James 4:10, which says to “Humble yourselves before the Lord, and He will lift you up” and that “whatever you do, do all to the glory of God” (1 Cor. 10:23). A far cry from West’s message, but not a far cry from the man who claims to be a god. In the eighth track “God Is,” West says that, “This ain’t ‘bout a damn religion.” Is religion not the entire point of the album, Kanye? Of course though, this goes back to the scale that tips more toward Kanye than it does Jesus.

Don’t get me wrong, I am not here to judge or say that Kanye can never be saved, because that is not my place and that is not the purpose of this article. But what I am saying, is that in a society where celebrities are lifted and worshipped, we should take a step back and truly evaluate the world through a Biblical lens. Romans 12:2 says, “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.” And though I think Kanye’s new album is giant leap in the right direction and much better than albums past, I encourage you to evaluate the world around you and find Truth from the Word of God, and from the Word of God alone. Not from celebrities, not from popular albums, not from media, but from Scripture. For James 1:26 says that “Those who consider themselves religious and yet do not keep a tight rein on their tongues deceive themselves, and their religion is worthless.” My friends, it is time to wake up and set our sights on what truly matters; Christ.

If you found any bit of this helpful, feel free to share this message with a friend or with a lot of friends. Thank you for taking the time to read my thoughts, and it is my hope and prayer each and every one of you would grow continually closer with Jesus Christ.

All credit goes to the sources below for content used in my article.

Howard, Brooke Leigh. “Kanye West’s Pseudo-Religious Sunday Service Sparks Walkouts.” The Daily Beast, The Daily Beast Company, 1 Oct. 2019.

“I Am a God.” Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, 24 Oct. 2019.

“Jesus Is King.” Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, 28 Oct. 2019.

Pearce, Sheldon. “5 Takeaways from Kanye West’s New Album, Jesus Is King.” Pitchfork, Pitchfork, 25 Oct. 2019.

Williams, Stereo. “Kanye West’s ‘Jesus Is King’ Is Fake Christianity at Its Finest.” The Daily Beast, The Daily Beast Company, 26 Oct. 2019.

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Graham is a sophomore Accounting major at Northwest Nazarene University, located in Nampa, ID.

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