Having just released his 9th studio album, Kanye West, the man who is no stranger to controversy, has divided opinion not only with ‘Jesus Is King’ but his decision to only make Christian music going forward.
So just what was it that had people, particularly the Christian community, up in arms? Musicvein had to listen to find out.
No sooner had I started playing the album in the background while doing chores, was the album over and done with! I had to double check there wasn’t an error – all that anticipation and build up for what? I asked! I wasn’t sold on the album at all, it just seemed like a cheap publicity stunt, a whim of an album, probably one I’ll not listen to again.
Upon giving the choppy, no flow album a second/third go and finally looking to the lyrics, I actually got what Kanye is trying to do and I have to say it’s genius.
“Wait, What? you just poo-pooed the album”, I hear you mutter, but that was my honest initial reaction and one that many people might resonate with if only listening to the 25 minute album in one sitting.
Now, normally when you listen to an album by a Christian artist (and incidentally a lot of albums) you are taken on a journey, you feel a range of emotions, uplifting, rejoicing, you may cry, you may dance but you feel something – with this album, and what many believers may struggle with, is the fact that it feels flat.
What people of faith have to understand is that this album isn’t to preach to the converted but actually to send a message to those who aren’t.
With track playing times averaging 2 minutes – shorter than Radio edit – this would mean that the message Kanye is delivering would be played in its entirety – there would be no diluting of his message here.
Each track is a stand alone track and produced in such a way that it would appeal to individual backgrounds and characters. Take “Use This Gospel” for instance, fans of brothers Pusha T and No Malice will be all over this one. If you’re a person all about the beats and flow of a track then “Follow God” will be the one for you, and my personal favourite – probably the closest to a Gospel song you’re going to get on this album – “God Is”. Reminding me of the snap, crackle and pop of old Majestic Singers records, this one really takes me back to childhood days spent with my grandparents.
So while the album has no actual train of thought, certainly not one for quite meditation, it’s worth knowing that there are several key elements Kanye has included when taking everyone to church; 1. Worship and Praise – “Selah”, 2. Testimony – “God Is”, 3. Sermon – “Jesus is Lord”, and 4. Prayer – “Water”.
Though Kanye West may not be recruiting the masses with this album, I believe it’s in his hope that if he touches at least one person with any of the songs of ‘Jesus is King’, then his mission is a success.
Do I believe he will be able to keep on this new path? It’s a bold step, but with Kanye being a visionary and revolutionist like Nas and 2Pac, I’ve no doubt he can stick to his faith, still keep his fan-base and continue making music people appreciate.