Kanye’s Jesus is King: A Religious Journey Told Through Music

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Illustration by Esther Liu

Vanessa Su
Arts & Entertainment Editor

A long-awaited comeback for many of his devoted fans, Jesus is King was released by West officially on Oct. 25 to the delight of millions on the Internet. Chicago-native West’s new album is his ninth consecutive album to land on the Billboard 200 Chart and is proving to be more than a collection of gospel music with its underlying personal Christian messages and themes. 

Receiving early acclaim for his work on Jay-Z’s album The Blueprint, West eventually went on to be inspired by a devastating car accident to pen the lyrics for award-winning album The College Dropout in 2004. Since then, West has gone on to snatch a record-breaking 21 Grammys and has become a well-known public figure as the beloved husband of Kim Kardashian West and the creator of popular Yeezy collection with Adidas. 

West has always been linked to religion throughout his music career and this album stands as a testament to his spirituality and faithful journey. Best stylistically described as gospel rap, Jesus is King embodies West’s musical past and has a surprisingly brief 27-minute runtime. 

The powerhouse group behind Sunday Service, the Sunday Service Choir drives the energy behind “Every Hour,” giving the album an uplifting introduction with its impressive harmonies and vocal techniques. Following “Every Hour,” album opener “Selah” embodies a striking Christian anthem with its marching beat and never-ending lines of “hallelujah” from West’s Sunday Service Choir. 

Sampled from a 1974 tune from Christian artist Whole Truth, “Follow God” touches on a piece of West’s personal life as he raps about “arguing with my dad/and he said it ain’t Christ-like,” referencing the familial struggles of his religious journey. Slightly comical yet attention-drawing, West begins track “Closed on Sunday” with iconic line “closed on Sunday/you my Chick-fil-A” while accompanied by a humming choir and strumming guitar. 

Accompanied by funky electronic instrumentation, “On God” expresses West’s joy for his relatively new conversion to Christianity and is the result of a collaboration with esteemed Pi’erre Bourne. An eclectic mix of gospel and rap influences, “Everything We Need” features Ty Dolla $ign and Ant Clemons, who also features on pleasantly light track “Water.” 

Relying on raspy vocal technique and emotional lyrics, “God Is” is an illuminating musical piece that allows fans to relish and envision West’s mission behind the entire album as well as his Sunday Service movement, which has been sweeping the nation and encouraging thousands of people to accept Christianity as a way of life.  

“Hands On” features Fred Hammond and is mostly silent except for the occasional violin sounds and muttering, auto tuned voices, representing West’s musical dynamism and playful creativity. Filled with the beautiful saxophone notes of Kenny G and legendary rapping of rap duo Clipse, “Use This Gospel” boasts an auditory version of musical preaching that serves as yet another anthem for West’s vision of spreading Christianity.  

The last track on West’s most recent album since ye in 2018, “Jesus is Lord” is carried by a group of sweeping trumpets and includes proclamations that “every knee shall bow/every tongue confess,” speaking for West and his clear evangelical mission. Jesus is King marks a milestone and turning point for West as he daringly lets his religious journey mingle with his musical repertoire. 

Jesus is King is out now and available on Spotify, Google Play Music, and iHeartRadio. After his controversial performance in Baton Rouge Louisiana, West is currently still in the process of announcing new Sunday Service tour dates after performing at Inglewood’s The Forum on Nov. 3. Fans can look forward to attending Sunday Service in the near future as well as speculate about the potential drop of his Yandhi album. 

Author’s Recommended Songs: “Selah,” “Follow God,” “God Is” 

 

                                                 

 

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Vanessa Su is a second-year student majoring in Communication and minoring in Japanese. She is originally from Fremont, California, and loves traveling to new, unfamiliar places. She enjoys finding new musical artists, working out, and meeting new people wherever she goes.”

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