Kanye West takes a spiritual turn with his musical career
It’s here. One year and four months have passed between Kanye West’s “Ye” album and his most recent, “JESUS IS KING,” which was released at noon on Friday, Oct. 25, 12 hours later than West promised. But at this point, that’s the least of listeners’ worries. There are bigger things to discuss.
The album title, “JESUS IS KING,” truly does summarize the track list; this is Kanye’s first gospel album, and that’s irrefutable. In his song “Water,” West sings, “Jesus, heal the bruises. Jesus, clean the music. Jesus, please use us. Jesus, please help…” There’s no satire, it’s pure gospel. I can’t help but consider the irony.
The jokes and memes around Kanye’s observed self-obsession (“I love you like Kanye loves Kanye”) make this album seem a little hypocritical. In fact, he’s gone so far as to refer to himself as Yeezus throughout the years, asserting himself as the god of rap. And now, he’s turning around to praise a real god. So, there’s a lot to unpack here.
We are all left wondering, who is this Kanye? But he seems to have anticipated this response. In “Hands On” West sings, “To say I’m changing, you think I’m joking. To praise His name, you ask what I’m smoking.” And he is right! Is this another Kanye outburst? Or is this some sort of revelation for him? (Pardon the pun.)
I’m a fan of “Ye,” West’s last album. But, to have an album proclaiming Jesus as a savior directly following a self-titled album seems so extreme—it’s like Kanye did a full 180. But let’s take a deeper look: did his last album set us up for “JESUS IS KING”?
Kanye is no stranger to rapping about the deeper issues. In “Ye” he raps about his changed perspective on women and girls since having a daughter of his own. The song “Violent Crimes” addressed how he sees women as “something to nurture, not something to conquer,” and that having a daughter revealed his own mistreatment of women. On the other end of the last album, we hear “All Mine,” which is more classic hip-hop; less dramatic, more upbeat, and way more sexual. One could go as far as to say West contradicted himself in “Ye.” So, is “JESUS IS KING” West’s way of finding a new lifestyle, or is he giving in to his conscience that he’s alluded to all along?
Instead of trying to figure out the inner workings of West’s mind (a task not even West could tackle), let’s talk about the listener’s experience with the album. The songs are uplifting, hopeful, and to some extent, fun. But what if you don’t follow the Bible? Has West isolated his atheist fans? His Jewish fans? His Muslim fans? Is West now strictly a gospel singer? Probably not. But if he follows the things he’s proclaiming in “JESUS IS KING”, we can expect a change in his music.
According to an article published by Independent, West asked those working on the album to abstain from premarital sex while working on the album because he wanted them to “work and just focus on this”. He spoke about his sex addiction and his cursing and in doing so, Westmade this album seem to be almost a confession—a repentance. So, if he holds true to these spiritual ideals he’s expressing, we might see this reflected in future music.
And maybe if you don’t agree with his spiritual declaration, this album isn’t for you. I think we all know that being a Kanye West fan means taking everything he does with a grain of salt. Few people are fans of everything-Kanye. And maybe that’s a good thing. We aren’t blindly obsessed and accepting of him; we are skeptical. Perhaps that’s how we should treat all celebrities—not as gods, but as humans.
In the same interview, however, West referred to himself as, “unquestionably, undoubtedly the greatest human artist of all time.” So, he’s no god, but with this album, he’s proclaiming to be a godly man…with an ego. I guess that part of West is still the same. But who knows? He always finds ways to surprise us. So, whether you enjoy figuring out the puzzle that is Kanye West, or you’re just a fan of his music, this album takes us on a new ride.
We can only guess what will come next.
~Anna Thomas, Staff Writer~