Trump supporter, mentally ill, slavery apologizer, and musical genius are just a few of the words I’ve used to describe Kanye West. Over the last few years, I have observed West’s transformation. From the bleached hair to estranged television appearances, I’ve asked, “what happened to Kanye?”
On October 25, 2019, he released the album "Jesus is King.” My gut reaction was, “this is a ploy.” I believed the project served as an attempt to repair his image. Over the last couple of years, he has worn MAGA hats, arranged meetings with Trump in solidarity, and said that Black people had a choice in slavery.
I was determined not to support Kanye West’s latest project. The impeachment hearings, alongside many other indicators, confirm that Trump's administration is a haven for white supremacists. Kanye’s support of Trump convinced me that I did not need his album, “Jesus is King.”
After seeing footage of West’s Sunday service at the LA Forum, I had second thoughts. The performance was moving, but the young people’s response is what hit me. In interviews taken outside the LA Forum, I saw young folks say they “never thought about God or going to church before this album.”
I had to know more about Kanye’s new approach to music.
Buying the album and listening to every track with an open mind, proved to be the best route to developing an informed opinion. Before, you disown me and never click on my future blog posts, keep reading for my critical review of “Jesus is King.”
Let me admit my biases. I grew up in the Black church. My father has preached the Christian gospel for fifty years. Together with my mom, they ensured me, and my five sisters started our weeks in the church he pastored for many years in Chicago’s Roseland community. My first book shares more details of my experiences.
Hearing Kanye West’s spin on some of the classic gospel songs resonates with me. In addition to socially conscious lyrics, the song Selah has a chorus where the choir repeats Hallelujah. Hallelujah is a Hebrew word meaning, praise ye yah, or praise God; it is a common word used in gospel music and during church services by congregations. My first listen to the choir sing in the song Selah, sent a chill up my spine. It flooded me with memories of my younger years in church and reminded me of the omnipresence of God during challenging moments.
Other tracks such as "Closed on Sunday" don't do anything for me. While West’s lyrics are positive, the references to Chick-fil-A are simple at best. Similar to other album reviewers, this song and others feel incomplete.
I don’t know if he rushed this album. Many of the tracks are about two minutes long, totaling a twenty-seven minute LP. I believe this record is a draft of what could be an exceptional contribution to hip-hop and gospel.
At some point in our lives, we grapple with the idea of a Supreme Being. We may reference our Creator as Infinite Intelligence, God, Jesus, Allah, Yahweh, Yeshua, Obatala, Jah, none, and all of the above names. Music is a powerful medium to express our religious and spiritual values. Kanye West’s album, “Jesus is King,” could serve as a starting point for you to grow into a deeper relationship with God.
I believe when we are ready to find God, God finds us. Engaging in activities such as reading scriptures, meditating, praying, practicing yoga, attending religious services, observing nature, exercising, and listening to music can help us connect with a higher power. If you are similar to the young person interviewed at the Forum who never thought about God, Kanye West’s album may be a worthwhile purchase.
Kanye can rhyme and produce music. He is not a good singer. Some of his political views require grace, but the album,"Jesus is King," will expose you to a creative approach to worship music.
Today, I am encouraging you to begin or return to developing a relationship with The Most High God. Viewing a Kanye West Sunday service on YouTube or listening to his album might help in the process. I know that one day, we will be held accountable for our time on this earth. Will you be able to say that you did your best with the talents, skills, and abilities gifted to you? Kanye is trying.