Kanye West Goes Full Pastor on ‘Jesus is King’

Daniel Blackwell, Reporter

     Kanye West released his new album on October 25. His new album is titled “Jesus is King,” and was released with a documentary titled “Jesus is King.” 

     Kanye has been teasing an album for about a year now. Originally he said he was going to release an album titled “Yandhi” last September. “Yandhi” was delayed, with a tweet from Kanye’s wife Kim Kardashian saying “November 23 black friday YANDHI TRUST ME it is worth the wait.”  Well, we shouldn’t have trusted Kim, as November 23 came and went with no “Yandhi.” Moving ahead to this year, Kanye has seemingly forgotten about Yandhi and has announced Jesus is King’s release date. Yandhi was leaked earlier this year, to mostly positive acclaim.  

     Kanye’s last album, “Ye,” was released in 2018 as a part of the 5 album production project he did in Wyoming. This is evident with the cover of “Ye” being a picture 

Photo courtesy of NBC News

     Kanye took of the Grand Teton mountain range. “Ye” was received with mostly positive reviews, receiving a 7.1 from Pitchfork.

     “Jesus is King” itself is a Christ-filled hip hop excursion, with clear gospel influences. It feels a lot like a Kanye album.

     The album starts off with the powerful gospel track titled “Every Hour.”  It’s a very strong opener, which I think sets off the theme of the album quite well. It’s a simple song, with only a piano and a choir, but I think a lot of its appeal comes from its simple yet attention grabbing feeling and groove.

     The second song on the album is titled “Selah.” Selah is a mostly gospel, some part rap song with some minor synth elements. It’s a very powerful feeling song with the chorus being the word “Hallelujah” repeated over and over, which really adds to the feeling of god.

     “Follow God” is the third song on the album, and I have very mixed feelings about it. On the one hand the song feels almost like a long verse off Late Registration, and if it were a verse on a larger song it would probably be one of my favorites off the album. On the other hand it’s so barebones it almost feels too simple. It also only lasts for one minute and forty four seconds, which is super short for any song. The lack of any real chorus or breaks in his verse is the part that I cannot decide if I like or I hate. Kanye’s flow is really good and bouncy, and I enjoy hearing it, but at the same time I feel like he could’ve done more with the sample he used, and maybe have switched up the beat once or twice throughout the track to keep it feeling fresh. One part of the song I do love is Kanye’s lines about his dad saying that Kanye isn’t acting “Christ Like,” and the fact that that line is repeated four times throughout the song. 

     The fourth song on the album is easily one of the worst Kanye songs I have ever heard, and I don’t say that lightly. The song title, “Closed on Sunday”is a reference to the fast food chain Chick-fil-A. The title is accurate as this song tells the listener to “hold hands and pray” and says “Closed on Sunday” as the fast food chain Chick-fil-A is closed on Sunday, which is assumedly to give time for it’s workers to go to church. This song is one of the worst Kanye songs for a lot of reasons, whether it be the annoying delivery of  goofy lyrics like “You’re my number one with the lemonade” which is a Soundcloud level line, or the off-putting feeling of Kanye’s vocals, which feel as if they were recorded months in between each other (Listen from 0:38 to 0:40). The worst part of the song is easily the end, as Kanye shouts Chick-fil-A in an obnoxious voice. One part of the song I do appreciate is Kanye’s verse in the middle, which I appreciate, as it feels emotionally charged. Apart from the verse though this song is definitely one of my least favorite Kanye songs of all time.

     The next song on the album is “On God.” It’s produced by Pierre Bourne, which is really apparent, as the beat feels trappy and smooth. “On God” is really enjoyable to listen to, and is definitely one of the best songs off the album, with a solid verse from Kanye, and a really enjoyable beat/production. As with most songs on the album, I wish it were a bit longer, but I appreciate what it does in it’s short time frame.

     The sixth song off the album is “Everything We Need.” “Everything We Need” is a poppy hip-hop song with some gospel elements. This song is the first off the album that was also on “Yandhi,” and I have to say, I liked the “Yandhi” version a lot more. The “Jesus is King”  version isn’t necessarily bad, it’s just that the “Yandhi” version had a great XXXTentation verse on it, and I think it had a better hook with the “Girl you owe it to yourself.” Overall it’s a solid song, but it’s a little disappointing to hear the better version on “Yandhi” and to get stuck with the worse “Jesus is King” version.

     “Water” is the next song and it’s easily one of my favorites off the album. The production is really atmospheric and the bassline is super groovy. Ant Clemons’ part adds to the atmosphere of the song, as I think the gospel sound works really well with the muted synths. It’s one of the longer songs on the album with a runtime of two minutes and forty nine seconds, which is still pretty short but it does a good job at setting up it’s atmosphere and tone in that short time frame.

     The next song on the album is “God Is.” “God Is” is a groovy acoustic hip-hop track with clear pop influences (especially in the last verse). “God Is” is another song that I really like off the album, I think the arrangement and production is really pleasing and the song is all around great to listen to. The sample at the beginning is a great intro and the explosive introduction of the instruments with the choir sounds really good. Even the last part where it’s just shouts is quite pleasing to listen to. 

     The ninth song on the album is titled “Hands On.” I think “Hands On” is a pretty good track, with some disappointing parts, as the lyrics feel uninspired and just like Christian ramblings. I really enjoy the vocal section at the beginning, as I think it has a really interesting sound. The track is overall pretty mediocre, but its not bad.

     The next song is another song off of “Yandhi,” its title being “Use This Gospel.” Like “Everything We Need,” the “Yandhi” version of this song is much more listenable and enjoyable. The differences in the song are pretty major, the lyrics are completely different, there’s guests on the “Jesus is King” version and the songs are arranged differently. One of my biggest issues with the “Jesus is King” version is the Kenny G part as it feels super out of place and hamfisted. The Pusha T and No Malice verses are fine, but I like Kanye’s energetic vocal performance on the “Yandhi” version more than the guest features.

     The last song on the album is also the shortest, its title is “Jesus Is Lord.” This song has great potential, but it’s incredibly short runtime does not allow it to really do anything with itself. It ends abruptly and it feels sort of unfinished. It’s a bad way to end the album, as it feels super disappointing.

     “Jesus is King” is a disappointing Kanye album. Kanye doesn’t really try anything new apart from the use of a gospel choir, which really isn’t that new of a sound as sampling gospel has been one of the facets of Kanye since the beginning. One of his first hits off his first album,“Jesus Walks,”is centered around a gospel sample. The sonic landscape of the album feels pretty cluttered and it can be hard at some points to identify a clear idea of what Kanye wanted the music to feel like. When judging this album apart from Kanye’s past discography and instead as it’s own album it feels pretty mediocre, and a lot of the past issues still apply. If you’re not a Kanye fan, or a Christian, I doubt this album is for you, as the Christian lyrics can be pretty boring to listen to, and super one dimensional feeling. I would rate this album a 5.75/10 for it’s boring lyrics, odd production choices that fall flat and his lack of any really new feeling sound. In terms of Kanye’s discography I would put this album near, if not at the bottom. Don’t let this be your first Kanye album, instead listen to his 2010 masterpiece “My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy,” I promise it’s way better than the dogmatic feeling of the Christian propaganda that is “Jesus is King.”