From stealing the spotlight at the Video Music Awards to hosting his own Sunday Services, Kanye West has always been known for keeping fans on their toes. When he announced that he would only be releasing gospel music, fans were shocked, yet somehow it was still a “Kanye” thing to do. “Jesus Is King” showcases West’s new style and gives fans a sneak peak of what his new music is going to sound like.
The Grammy Award-winning rapper took the music scene by storm with the release of his award-winning albums “The College Dropout,” “Late Registration” and “Graduation.” His music has been experimental, but, generally, has followed a hip-hop and pop rap style. However, recently West announced that he will only be releasing gospel music following the start of his highly-acclaimed Sunday Services.
West has branched out of the music sphere multiple times, the most notable being his fashion line, Yeezy. However, fans weren’t expecting him to branch out into religion. Religion has made an appearance as a theme in a variety of his songs in the past, but recently, West has been more vocal about his faith and what it truly means to him. West started his Sunday Services as a way to share his love and devotion to God with others around him.
The program is an exclusive event with different locations every week. His events started off as invite-only, but now they are starting to open out to the public. Following the start of these services, West announced that he would be releasing a new album, “Jesus Is King.” Kim Kardashian West, Kanye West’s wife, announced the release of her husband’s new album on Sept. 27, but the release was pushed back to Oct. 25. Even with the added time of the new release date, the album was released an hour after it was originally set to. West claimed this was because he wanted to make the album as good as it could be to make himself and fans happy.
“JESUS IS KING”
OCT 25th pic.twitter.com/Ug4ghlQYk7
— ye (@kanyewest) October 21, 2019
However, the album was met with very mixed reviews. His new album features songs with classic gospel styles with a rap twist to them, something that many gospel artists claim is hard to pull off. The album takes listeners through West’s spiritual path. Each individual song has different meanings and themes behind them that highlight his journey.
“Jesus Is King” starts off with an opening song, “Every Hour,” that evokes gospel stylings, sung by the Sunday Service Choir. This song was a good way to start off the album. It shows West’s dedication to his faith and does a good job at previewing the rest of the album.
Since the album showcases a very different style than what West is known for, starting off with this song was an excellent choice. The album ends with “Jesus Is Lord.” In this song, there is no one else but West singing, which is the opposite of the first song where West is not singing at all. By ending the album this way, it concludes West’s spiritual story and shows his listeners how dedicated he is to his faith.
The songs in between “Jesus Is King” and “Jesus Is Lord” all have different themes and messages, but they come together in a perfect way to explain West’s journey. “Selah” is the second song on West’s album, and it takes us through the rapper’s religious experience. This song has a wide variety of biblical references that West uses to further his proof of dedication to his fans.
The word “selah” occurs frequently throughout the Bible, but a lot of people might not be sure of what it means. To West, the word means to reflect on the past, which is a common theme within the song and is shown during an instance of West comparing himself to biblical figures, such as Noah. The song introduces listeners to the side of the artist that has been portrayed to the public while also giving explanation to his behavior.
“Follow God,” “Closed on Sundays” and “Water” all encourage listeners to look to God for guidance and strength. This is a theme that has been seen in a few of West’s songs before, but it is much more prevalent in this album. These songs show how, during his low points, West turned to his faith to seek guidance and support. West is open with his struggles with mental illnesses, especially on his Twitter.
He also has a history of controversies throughout the years, so these songs help fans understand how West is able to get through these hard times. “Follow God” also puts an emphasis on West’s spiritual struggles and what he went through to get to the place he is today. Similarly, “Use This Gospel” gives fans an insight to what the album truly means and what they should take away from it.
The two tracks that really stood out to me the most were “On God” and “Everything We Need.” Both of these songs had elements about them that were a bit different than the rest. “On God” addressed some of West’s controversies such as his statement, “Slavery was a choice,” that got everyone talking — and not in a good way.
This statement gained him a lot of bad press and people still associate this statement with his name. He also refers to his Forbes cover as a mirage, hinting at his struggles with fame and coming to terms with it. The overall song follows the same theme as “Water,” but this song gives specific examples about particular struggles and controversies.
“Everything We Need” stood out to me because it featured Ty Dolla $ign and Ant Clemons. It was interesting to me because I wasn’t expecting these two artists to make a feature on West’s album because the recording is a different sound than what these two artists are known for.
Overall, this was a decent album. While West ventured into different musical stylings, the album was not as unique as it was made to seem. However, it definitely gave us a unique view into the mind of the sometimes closed-off rapper.