By Melanie Medina ('22)
On October 25, Kanye West released his ninth studio album, Jesus is King. It is West’s first gospel-rap album and consists of eleven tracks running for a total of 27 minutes. It features artists such as Clipse and Ty Dolla Sign.
Through the overall album, West has truly shown his love for God and Christianity on tracks such as “On God”, “God Is”, and “Hands On”. Both “God Is” and “Hands On”. These songs demonstrate Kanye’s praise for the Lord, quoting “God’s light shining brightest in the dark” in “On God” as he praises God for the success of his previous album, Ye.
“Hands On” is West’s pride of becoming a Christian, and how his fellow Christians view his rights and wrongs. He raps, “They'll be the first one to judge me; Make it feel like nobody love me; They'll be the first one to judge me; Feelin' like nobody love me”. West continues with saying that he openly accepts the public’s criticism through the lyrics “if that's all the love you have.” For this particular track, West collaborated with producer Timbaland. Although this pair may seem ideal, the repetitive lyrics along with Timbaland’s slow beat leave much to be desired.
“Follow God” dives into Kanye’s behavior as he screams at his father and “at the referee” while stretching his hands out to God after losing his peace. Closing out the track, he admits to wrestling with God, expressing how his life is more false than real. “Wrestlin' with God, I don't really want to wrestle; Man, it's really lifelike, everything in my life (stretch my hands to You)” said West.
The track was based on the 1974 gospel song “Can You Lose By Following God” by Whole Truth as West uses the lyrics “Father, I stretch, stretch my hands to You” and its beat throughout “Follow God”. The track is similar to West’s previous tracks and showcases his infamous rap delivery skills, especially for those who miss the so-called “Old Kanye”.
“Closed on Sunday” has become one of the most criticized tracks on the album for having “lack-luster lyrics”, according to Forbes. The track starts off mentioning Chick-Fil-A as West states that the popular fast-food chain is only closed on Sundays due to the owner Truett Cathy’s Christian faith.
With the background of guitar music gradually becoming eerie throughout, the focus of the track is at the end. Here, West expresses his concerns about his family and society’s temptations as he raps, “I bow down to the King upon the throne/My life is His, I’m no longer my own.” He claims his dedicated love for God to the extent where he would give his own life to God as God has control of him and his body.
“Use This Gospel” features the infamous group Clipse with group members Pusha T and No Malice that went public for the first time since 2010. Pusha T begins the track with the first verse, speaking of his fortune blessed from Jesus Christ and not being the one to judge because he is also “crooked as Vegas.”
Malice takes control of the second verse, making his key message to “Just hold on to your brother when his faith lost”. The ending of the track includes an additional feature from saxophonist Kenny G playing at the end of Malice’s verse. As Clipse and West showcase in the track, they suggest the use of gospel and the faith of God for protection.
Many did not know what to expect for the album. However, its release provided tracks that preached greatness and positivity, everything Kanye has strove for in all of his years in the music industry.