By Andrew Bondarev ’22
On Oct. 25, a bombshell of an album was released. Amidst the endless controversy surrounding Kanye West’s name, political views, and decisions, he has found the Christian faith in a more publicized way than many expected. Coinciding with a $68 million tax break only days later, the polarizing West has moved on from the successes of ye and Kids See Ghosts and has sought a different audience with a new purpose and perspective.
Regardless of opinions on the album itself, Jesus is King has solidified a legacy for Kanye in the hip hop industry, which had been forming in an obscure direction for years now. In a relatively short album (27 min.), West was able to fit a multitude of parallels between his personality, ego, and addictions with the Bible and the life of Jesus Christ. This is impressive in its own sense already, and it is a double-edged sword that has represented Kanye’s transition into Christianity.
The lines “everybody wanted Yandhi, then Jesus Christ did the laundry” off of the second track of the album, “Selah”, exemplified Kanye’s evolution in faith, and it allowed him to form an answer for his past bizarre behavior and album announcements and cancellations. This notion marinates the relationship between Kanye and his faith when “they which came out of great tribulation, and have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb” (Revelation 7:14). The lyrics correlate to Biblical verses quite often in the album, and this is a testament to the artist’s cultivation of knowledge and a new belief system. Hence, there are many allusions to the Sunday obligation in the album, the most famous one being coined with Chick-Fil-A, in addition to God saving Kanye from his vices and temptations.
At first, the lyrics on the album may seem simplistic or even rushed, but a closer look allows the listener to comprehend the meticulous writing that went into the collection of songs. This is along with elegant features from Clipse, Kenny G, and brilliant vocal work from Kanye’s Sunday Service Choir. The album also seems to be a powerful state of prayer for Kanye, which is shown through the songs “Water” and “God Is” where he reflects a need for deliverance from God and liberation.
The line “time to break down all the prisons, every man, every woman, there is freedom from addiction,” preaches a hopeful and very Gospel-esque message, one that Kanye has seemed to live out. The inspiring undertones of the album are explained thoroughly by Kanye in his interview with Beats 1, “I’m trying to show that someone that’s diagnosed can still drive and be the founder of a multi-billion dollar organization. Can still be in service to Christ.”
One may easily dismiss the claims of Kanye and build a case that this album is an egotistical attempt of boosting fame and demonstrating a disingenuous sense of faith, but this argument seems to be a bit harsh. The clearest justification for this claim could be that Kanye’s self-comparison of his story to Jesus Christ’s betrayal and death is unnecessary and narcissistic in some ways. However, the art of the album itself goes beyond criticism or even Kanye’s flaws, as ultimately, he wore his heart on his sleeve and put his best foot forward on this album. He acknowledges his troubled past and yet calls for God’s love and assistance in his life, ushering in a new beginning for his conscience and career. All in all, it is important for the Christian community to embrace Kanye’s entrance into the faith with open arms as he finds his path. We can look at him as an example of someone who has been counted out due to past mistakes, mental illness, and a contentious reputation, but he is still fighting for salvation and for his soul. The production, lyrics, and intentions behind the album have built a generally positive perception from listeners, despite maybe not living up to the same standards as his 2018 releases. Fans have heard the song “Reborn” already off of Kids See Ghosts, but the music world can now see this term in a broader sense as Kanye now embodies the concept.