Pel Mel Critics’ Corner

Music Review: Kanye West’s JESUS IS KING


Graphic by Rivy

Kate Loughran, Managing Editor, Sophomore

Kanye West has found God in his new album, JESUS IS KING. But has Kanye lost himself? “I miss the old Kanye” is a line from Kanye West’s song “I Love Kanye” from his album Life of Pablo, which came out in 2016. Now, many of his fans are saying the same thing. Kanye West has been on a long journey, exploring his spiritual and political life from the beginning of his music career in 2004 with the release of his first album, The College Dropout. Ever since, Kanye has attempted to find his true self and purpose through his music. Now at forty two, Kanye released his latest album, JESUS IS KING, on October 25, exhibiting an introduction to his new style of music: gospel. In the past few years, Kanye has begun to show a new side of himself, a side in which religion has impacted him deeply, which he shows in this eclectic new mix of rap and gospel.

This album came as a shock to many Kanye fans, as it is a complete 180 from hits on his previous albums like Life of Pablo, The College Dropout, and Yeezus that are all filled with a majority of explicit content and aggressive rap. This is how a majority of Kanye’s music from his past can be categorized. So when Kanye decided to spread religious messages of Christianity through his music, some fans were intrigued by his new sound. However, many were not fans of this new style, wishing for the old Kanye to come back. I was one of the Kanye fans that appreciated this new style, and enjoyed the album overall. It is definitely an acquired taste, as Kanye incorporates a gospel choir to make up the majority of the background. This choir is an all-African American group, the same group that performs at Kanye’s ceremonies with Sunday Service. Sunday Service is a church-like assembly that Kanye West created after he felt the need to start a church after a rough patch in his life (at a time he admitted himself into the hospital for “exhaustion”). While he could not begin a real church as he lacked the qualifications, he began this gathering of both devout Christian people, along with those seeking a religious structure.

JESUS IS KING was crowned No. 1 on the charts soon after its release, and also managed to have every song be on Billboard’s Hot 100 in the first week of November. The most popular songs on the album come in as “Follow God,” “Closed on Sunday,” and “Selah,” all which incorporate parts of Kanye’s old sound, but with the new spirit and with lyrics such as, “Hold the selfies, put the ‘Gram away, Get your family,  y’all hold hands and prayin,” which is quite the irony considering his wife’s family, the Kardashians, have gained their success based on social media and their own image. But of course, as Kanye has showed us, everyone can change. In my opinion, while the new sound is an interesting one, it is mostly characterized by the choir, and less of Kanye. Kanye’s lyrical genius can still be seen, yet less of his rap can be heard. In the past, Kanye has had albums consisting solely of his own rap, but now listeners hear a shift to an emphasis on the background music rather than his voice. For Kanye West, the possibilities seem endless, and his spirit seems infinite. Maybe Kanye West doesn’t have to lose himself in order to find God, but in finding God, he has found himself, his purpose, and his next step in life.