On Sept. 7, 2018, Kanye West released the hit single “I Love It,” featuring Lil Pump. The hook of this song repeatedly degrades women and in West’s verse he continues to recite obscene lyrics that portray his acceptance and desire for casual sex.
Thirteen months later, the 21-time Grammy Awards winner released his first ever gospel album, titled “Jesus Is King,” and admitted during an interview with Apple music’s Zane Lowe that he was telling everyone working on the album not to have premarital sex. In this interview he pours his heart out about his newfound faith in God.
Before listening to this album you must understand that it is not a rap album like West’s first eight … it’s gospel. “Jesus Is King” is about West’s relationship with God and how Christianity and the Bible changed his life. West has incorporated elements of gospel in his music before, but hasn’t fully delved into the genre until now. The opener to “The Life of Pablo,” called “Ultralight Beam,” fits this category, as well as songs like “Jesus Walks” and “Touch The Sky” from his earlier works.
The following are some of the notable tracks off of the highly anticipated “Jesus Is King”:
The album starts off with “Every Hour,” sung entirely by the choir from his Sunday service group. The next song, “Selah,” features a traditional church organ with West passionately rapping about God. The song picks up a third of the way through when he starts reciting verses from the Bible, followed by the Sunday service choir jumping back in with melodic “hallelujah” chants.
“Follow God” reminds the listeners of a more vintage West. He uses simple repetitive vocals — a sample of the 1974 gospel song “Can You Lose By Following God,” by Whole Truth — while he raps over it with a digitally fuzzy voice. This song sounds like it is straight off of “My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy,” arguably his best album.
The internet had a field day with “Closed on Sunday,” which shouts out the popular fast food restaurant Chick-fil-A. The corny line goes, “Closed on Sunday/ You’re my Chick-fil-A”; West continues the verse by rhyming the Chick-fil-A line with “Hold the selfies/ Put the gram away.” Whenever an album release has this much internet anticipation behind it, you better believe there will be memes. The song, however, is actually about respecting the Sabbath and not using it for selfish endeavors.
“Use This Gospel” is widely regarded as the best song on the album for several reasons: First, the repeated single piano note creates a mood similar to West’s classic song “Runaway.” Second, it features both Pusha T and his brother, No Malice, who contributes to the message of using the Gospel. They rap about their sinful pasts before West returns to the chorus saying, “Use this Gospel for protection/ It’s a hard road to Heaven.”
Following those verses, legendary saxophonist Kenny G comes in with a killer solo. Given the tremendous instrumentals, profound messages and smooth rhythm, this track is the one that could make a “greatest hits” album one day.
This album could have definitely been better, considering the tremendous hype and the two delays, but what this album did was show the world how West has changed from his old ways and is now loyal to Christianity. The music sound is distinctly different from anything we’ve ever heard from “Ye,” but it’s certainly refreshing to hear lyrics that aren’t centered around him boasting about himself or his sex life.
The best way to sum up this album was said by West himself to Lowe in that same interview, “There was a time I was letting you know what high fashion had done for me, there was a time where I let you know what the Hennessy had done for me, and now I’m letting you know what Jesus has done for me.”
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