“No more living for the culture, we nobody’s slave”
When Kanye West announced he was going to release a gospel album, I was skeptical. The first reason being that I was afraid he was going to change his sound. The second reason being that I was unsure how authentic and personal the album would feel. I honestly even thought that Kanye was just trying to use the Catholic Church to try and sell records. There was also the added doubt that he would never drop the album because ‘Ye had announced Yahndi last year and never released it and, prior to the actual release, Jesus is King was initially announced back in September and it also did not release. With all the different factors weighing on my mind, I was afraid JIK would be a ploy for attention and nothing more than that. However, I was completely wrong.
After a night of disappointment (a result of Kanye not releasing his album on schedule yet again), JIK was released Friday morning, just in time for his Jesus Is King IMAX movie experience that was also to be released later that day. Going into the album with an open mind, I came to fall in love with West’s ability to blend the old with the new. He uses the sample song “Whole Truth” on his song “Follow God”–– honestly my favorite song on the album. He also uses samples on “Water,” “God Is,” and a small portion of “Use This Gospel.” His ability to do so makes him one of the greatest producers of all time and proves that he still runs the game. Kanye is also known for being a little goofy with his lyrics in order to keep the audience on their toes and continues to showcase his special ability in this album. In the song “Closed on Sunday”, Ye inserts the lyrics “Closed on Sundays, you’re my Chick-Fil-A” simply because he can. This gives off the impression that Kanye does not take himself too seriously; one of the main reasons why he is still “the man” today.
Another key part of this album is the fact that it is a Gospel album. Along with many other fans, I was afraid the album would try too hard to seem like a Gospel album, but I was very wrong. ‘Ye is able to add his own personal twist on Gospel music, without losing touch of the overall message: Jesus is King. Having gone to Catholic School all the way through high school, the message of the album made me feel the same way I did whenever my school held church services that the whole school attended. I did not get the sense that Kanye was selling out; rather, I got the feeling that there was a man who had a message he felt needed to be shared with the world. The way he was able to make the message clear and understandable to the audience blew my mind because I never thought I would be able to sit down and actually enjoy a Gospel album. Ye made the Word of God applicable to more real life scenarios than any other pastor or preacher I have heard yet. Also, JIK has no explicit advisory on the cover, which truly makes this an album of God.
Kanye West has released yet another classic, only this time it is a Gospel album. He is able to capture the full message of the Word of God without diluting and compromising the message with his outspoken attitude and carefree demeanor. Kanye’s production focuses on the simplicity of music while still maintaining an air of complexity that can easily be written off by people claiming it sounds too industrial and too “weird.” Not only is West able to maintain his childish simplicity that has been characteristic of his recent releases, but he is also able to actually carry the Gospel message throughout the entirety of the album without losing my attention one bit. This is an experiment that proved itself successful. Honestly, I initially thought I needed Yandhi, until I “heard Jesus Christ do the laundry” and I realized I really needed some Jesus is King.
Written By: Jake Romo
Edited By: Kami Strander