GRAPHIC BY DENISE THUONG
By JACOB RAMOS
Wake up Mr. West!
Releasing his ninth studio album Jesus is King on Oct. 25, Kanye West has firmly declared himself the most polarizing music figure on the planet.
Typically, career resurrections and redefinitions come early in an artist’s discography, as a change in style will dictate the course of the rest of their career. As fans have learned over the past decade-plus, Kanye Omari West is anything but typical. From The College Dropout to Jesus is King, there have been countless moments where one could argue that Kanye definitely changed his mindset and approach for this album. Therefore, Kanye’s transformation for Jesus is King creates a holy, angelic mashup that exhibits the artist’s immense talent as well as his Christian faith.
With Jesus is King, Kanye morphs from an opioid addicted, poorly guided and attention seeking rapper to an artist who seems solely focused on his music, family and faith. Preaching on “Hands On,” Kanye speaks directly to the Christian religion by begging for prayers and forgiveness after his years of self-proclaimed “sins” with each line. What may strike listeners most, however, is how Kanye asks for acceptance from a group of Christians. This is especially particular because, through his seemingly endless chest of quotes made through the years, Kanye has seldom gone on record and asked for acceptance, quite literally explaining on a track from an earlier record that “we don’t need acceptance from outsiders.” Although it is not uncommon for Kanye to redefine his musical style his new personality that is a stark difference from his mindset in the past becomes extremely notable to fans.
Unsurprisingly, Kanye strayed away from expletives and carefully navigated his writing so that his originality in his work is still intact. Moreover, a clean album without a use of profanity is something Kanye has never attempted before. Perhaps this exhibits more growth from Kanye, as in 2016 the wildly popular The Life of Pablo was described by Kanye as “a gospel album with a lot of cussing.”
Jesus is King is perhaps the hardest hitting, most soulful performance Kanye has put out since 808’s and Heartbreak, an album devoted to his late mother. Kanye, ever the opportunist, has proven time and time again how his music is typically a reflection of his character at the moment, which really contributes to his ever changing discography and style.
As for Jesus is King, Kanye delivered lyrically on most of his tracks, with beautiful feature selections on tracks such as “Water” and “Use This Gospel,” featuring soul singer Ant Clemons and rapper/friend Pusha T. Pusha T especially had a standout verse, rapping on his own faith, an extreme difference from his typical drug selling, over-masculine style of rapping. Ant Clemons was the main component of the song “Water,” delivering intimate lines on interactions with family, explaining he would like to “take the chlorine out of [all] conversations,” purifying it, “like a newborn daughter.”
With the soulful faith radiating from those two tracks, Kanye looked another direction on the song “Follow God,” in which he delivered the hardest hitting song from a rapping standpoint on Jesus is King. With no standout lines other than his constant expressions of regret over past actions which are deemed “not Christ-Like.”
Unfortunately for Kanye, many Christians have questioned his faith in the leadup to his album. With a sudden turn in religious importance, fans and followers inquire on the rapper’s Jesus complex that is seemingly being wiped away in a matter of months. How one can go from proclaiming himself “Yeezus,” to creating songs by the names of “Follow God” and “Jesus is Lord” can be described as nothing other than divine intervention. With the self-awareness to understand that his faith would undoubtedly be up for discussion, Kanye opened up during a number of his songs, most notably “Hands On.”
Predictably, Ye delivered this project multiple months late. Reports of Yandhi, an album which would have theoretically preceded Jesus is King, surfaced around September 2018. Once again, it seems as though Kanye did a 180, proving his worth as the most versatile artist on the planet.
Ye’s faith may forever be in question, but his undying passion and talent for music of all kinds is cemented forever.