Kanye West followers may be feeling left at the altar with his newest album’s last-minute change in release date, shorter length, and overall change in theme. The highly anticipated “JESUS IS KING” album by Kanye West was originally planned to be released on September 27, but a tweet from West left followers disappointed as the album would not be released until almost a month later, on October 25.
The 27-minute album, with a gospel theme, has 11 tracks. West typically makes explicit, party-type music, so the new subject matter came as a surprise.
West has briefly touched on religion in the past with many of his songs, such as “Jesus Walks”, which is from West’s 2004 album, The College Dropout. As well as “Ultralight Beam”, from West’s release of The life of Pablo album in 2016. Both of these songs have touched on religion. However, this is the first time we are seeing an album by West wholly dedicated to religion. Another major change in West’s ways that will leave many followers in shock is the possible change in setting, by changing the late-night concerts, to Sunday morning Services with Kanye.
The opening song on “JESUS IS KING” is “Every Hour”, featuring the Sunday Service Choir. The first thing you notice is what you do not hear, Kanye West. The fast, pulse-racing track focuses on a woman’s voice, with an energetic gospel choir backing her up. The absence of Kanye’s rapping is something that we do not often get from West. “Sing till the power of the lord comes down”, is the repetitive message and lyrics that this song carried with it. The start to this gospel-centered album brings an upbeat, spiritual outlook that was not expected, based on West’s signature style of hardcore rap.
West’s choice in lyrics, mixed with the deep rhythms and beats of the drums, techno, and many of the other instruments West included in his album, play a large role in the message portrayed of nothing being more important than prayer and the love of God and family. In “Selah”, one of my personal favorites, the feeling of intense beats, almost gunshot like, echo deep through the head of any listener. As the pounding beats carry throughout the song, the biblical references incorporated in the lyrics only amplify the effect of intensity and power with the background of their meaning.
While many of West’s followers who are familiar with the Bible and the Christian religion are able to understand the true meaning of his references, the gospel direction West takes may leave non-christian listeners feeling alienated.
Fan-favorite according to the Apple Music rankings, “Closed on Sunday”, has a deep acoustic opening with lyrics containing many familiar references, such as ‘Chick-Fil-A’, which most listeners know is “Closed on Sunday”. This song provides a catchy tune with the message of dedicating Sundays to God.
“JESUS IS KING” is full of unique beats that leave you humming the tune all day. Nevertheless, the heavy religious messages that this album brings with it, may come across as subjective and cause division among West’s followers.