When you check out reviews of seasoned music critics about Kanye West’s “Jesus Is King” album, you won’t get anything nicer than unforgiving comments about how lackluster, under cooked, rushed, lacking in punchlines and utterly unrevealing the 27-minute compilation of 11 songs is. For a producer and solo artist who has been at the top of his game for close to two decades, many of them believe that this gospel transformation is rock bottom for him, and that it is a massive career regression. But then if one is so obsessed with the old Kanye, why not just focus on the older records and ignore the newer ones?
Kanye West’s bipolar diagnosis and struggle with opioid addiction brought him closer to seeking refuge in Christ. The album is kick-started by “Every Hour”, a creative piece with Sunday Service Choir, riddled with adrenaline-inducing voices and frenetic keyboard arpeggios. “Selah” is a track on which Ye reveals why Yandhi, an album which had three Nicki Minaj verses and a ground-breaking voicing by Tekashi 6ix9ine was abandoned. He claims Jesus didn’t want him to release it. “Selah” is propelled by battle drums and a confrontational attitude by Kanye.
What is a Kanye album without samples of all-time classics? “Follow God” samples Whole Truth’s 1974 track, “Can You Lose By Following God.” Kanye mentions his dislike of the likes feature on Instagram, which he once blamed for escalating depression. “I was looking at the Gram, and I don’t even like likes”. Well, his sentiments were not in vain, as Instagram is testing the feature that makes the number of likes on posts invisible for everyone else apart from the post owner.
“Closed On Sunday” is a piece very hard to hate, even for critics. It is more of a love ballad dedicated to his wife Kim Kardashian and Ye aims at starting the preaching with his own family. “Hold the selfies, put the ‘Gram away / Get your family, y’all hold hands and pray.” “On God” is a piece of encouragement to single mothers and incarcerated men, and also preaches the gospel of prosperity. “Off the 350s, He supplied” Kanye sanctifies his own merchandise. Ty Dolla $ign delivers lyrical beauty on “Everything We Need”. It also had a verse full of threats from the late XXXTentacion which were removed.
Ant Clemons with his falsetto, and Kanye’s hoarse-ish voice both coupled with a memorable baseline make “Water” such an amazing track to listen to. “God Is” makes use of a gospel-soul sample, and “Hands On” addresses American injustice and police brutality: “Cut out all the lights, He the light / Got pulled over, see the brights / ‘What you doing on the street at night?’ / Wonder if they gonna read your rights.” Auto tuned sermons by Fred Hammond also adorn it rather well.
“Use This Gospel,” boasts of a Kenny G sax solo and reunites Pusha T and No Malice, in their duo Clipse. The hard-hitting piano and autotuned harmonies make it ever so catchy. “Jesus Is Lord” which shares a name with the album, is more of a chorus than a song, and ends in 49 seconds.
Ultimately, “Jesus Is Lord” is that Kanye album which won’t be much appreciated by music geeks and connoisseurs, and those that crave deep lyrics and punchlines, but you will still find it great if you are a regular Kanye fan. Admittedly, Ye’s gospel music trend might divide his fans, but let’s wait for the follow up album called “Jesus Is Born” before conclusions are made.
Check out “Jesus Is King” album by Kanye West on Tidal by following this link