Kanye West delivers mixed bag of gospel music

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Kanye West delivers mixed bag of gospel music

"Jesus is King," Kanye West's ninth studio album was released on Oct. 25, 2019.

Staff

"Jesus is King," Kanye West's ninth studio album was released on Oct. 25, 2019.

Staff

Staff

"Jesus is King," Kanye West's ninth studio album was released on Oct. 25, 2019.

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After multiple delays and holds, Kanye West, who once rapped “I am God,” released his new album titled “Jesus is King” on Friday, Oct. 25 along with a movie released on the same day. 

West’s newest installment is his ninth studio album and is centered on West’s Christian beliefs. Compared to his previous album “ye,” “Jesus is King” has a more gospel centric sound. It’s closer to the sound of West’s “Life of Pablo” album, one that he described himself as a “gospel album with a lot of cussing.” Like in “Life of Pablo,” West again utilizes the hymn “Father I Stretch My Hands to Thee.” An obvious favorite of the artist, the hymn is used this time in the track “Follow God.” The song itself is repetitive, but has some of the strongest bars of the album. In it the rapper blazes “Nobody never tell you when you’re being like Christ only ever seeing’ me only when they need in’ me.” 

Compared to his previous album ‘ye,’ ‘Jesus is King’ has a more gospel centric sound. It’s closer to the sound of West’s ‘Life of Pablo’ album.”

— Luke Bruce, 12

West also uses church choirs as he has multiple times before since “College Dropout.” This time, the Sunday Service Choir takes center stage (right behind Kanye) throughout much of the album. In the opening track, “Every Hour,” the choir sings a pumping gospel with minimal piano accompaniment. Although some might find it chaotic, it makes for a good intro that exemplifies the main purpose of the album to come. West does seem to have a little bit too much faith in his choir however. In the very next song, “Selah,” West leaves his choir in a repeating “hallelujah” for a 30-second feature of the same word. This definitely is no surprise however coming from the experimental West. West has been experimenting in his craft since his days as a music producer, and he very obviously is still doing that today. Despite the similarities to his older albums, West’s “Jesus is King” is most definitely a shift from his past.

West has been experimenting in his craft since his days as a music producer, and he very obviously is still doing that today.”

— Luke Bruce, 12

For one thing, like never before, West is trying to really create a gospel album. The album lacks “a lot of cussing” like in “Life of Pablo,” and no songs are explicit this time. This is a first for the artist. Even in the past as he has spoken on religion in older tracks like “Jesus Walks” and “Father Stretch My Hands,” the songs have included explicit content. In “Jesus is King,” he trades the explicit stuff to create a family-friendly album made for all ages. Luckily, it’s no Kidz Bop disaster of lyrics. In one impressive lyric, West said he faced scrutiny from people of the Christian faith and reflects on this treatment in his album. In the song “Hands On,” West says, “Said I’m finna to do a Gospel album. What have you been hearing from the Christians? They’ll be the first one to judge me. Make it feel like nobody love me.”

Despite the scrutiny, gospel singer Fred Hammond and rapper Ty Dolla $ign both join West in his album. Hammond, a Grammy Award-winning artist, is featured in “Hands On,” one of the weaker, non-exciting songs of the album. Regardless, the song features Hammond in the high point of the track. Hammond’s clear, harmonized vocals create a beautiful moment in the song. “Everything We Need,” the song that features Ty Dolla $ign and the not-well-known Ant Clemmons, has some solid melodies to it, but simply lacks the length or special moments to make it memorable. The best features by far take place in the second to last song on the album titled “Use this Gospel.” The song features hip hop duo Clipse and jazz legend Kenny G. The harmony vocals behind Clipse’s rap make some beautiful moments only to be heightened later by the smooth saxophone of Kenny G.

It is not that shorter albums cannot be successful, but West’s formula for greatness is not this.”

— Luke Bruce, 12

While songs like “Closed on Sunday” (West’s ode to fast food), “Follow God,” “God Is” and “Use This Gospel” deliver playlist worthy songs, other parts of the album don’t have much too remember. The album has opportunity but lacks some of the length like “Life of Pablo” to include testy songs and great ones. “Life of Pablo” sat at one hour and six minutes while “Jesus is King” comes low at a total 27 minutes. It is not that shorter albums cannot be successful, but West’s formula for greatness is not this. Some of the songs becomes aspects of this shortness and end before they should. While also being short, as said earlier, some songs on the album contain very repetitive movements that can simply become annoying at times. Additionally, when it comes to some aspects of the Christian faith, West has some (in my opinion) arguable doctrine. In one point West spouts “Jesus give us wealth” and argues for high prices with his fashion line with, “The IRS want our 50 plus our tithe.” West also seems to want the abolishment of the 13th amendment, which is a very questionable opinion.

In total, West delivers some outstanding stretched vocals and classic “old Kanye” mixes and beats. It has some thrilling heights, but also has some falling lows. Regardless, West creates his goal of a gospel album and delivers it well enough. Whether this change of style will hold, only time will tell, but if anyone knows anything about West, they would know it would be anything but predictable. 

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