Kanye Releases “Jesus is King”


Thomas Black

By: Thomas Black

After a chaotic release littered with seemingly endless delays, the long awaited “Jesus Is King” by Kanye West is finally available to the public.  It features primarily gospel influenced tracks – as the title suggests, and demonstrates an ideological shift for the notoriously egotistical rapper/producer.

The song “Every Hour” starts off the album, and is entirely sung by the Sunday Service Choir.  With its instrumentation and layered vocals, it brings the atmosphere and feeling of church directly to the listener.  Also, the audible use of tape saturation and vinyl emulation, post processing used to make recordings sound older, gives the track a vintage vibe.  The song “Selah” comes next, which features explosive production that is sure to catch the listener’s attention. It uses both cinematic hits and rhythmic chanting – two things capable of evoking powerful emotion. Because West discusses his dedication and focus towards religion, the track is captivating.

After these moments in the album, several shorter songs follow.  These include “Follow God,” “Closed on Sunday,” and “On God.” “Follow God” is a standout track, as it shows similarity to his first album “The College Dropout.”  West discusses his relationship with his father over the sampled beat, and his stellar flow is a callback to what made people like him in the first place. Then, in “Closed on Sunday,” he sings about raising his children, and includes several lines about the food chain Chick-Fil-A.  This is likely because the restaurant is closed on Sunday, in respect to the Christian day of rest. “On God” is next, and features my favorite instrumental on the album. Its bombastic synths (electronic keyboards) create an atmosphere of a video game, in the best way possible. This is also a very solid track, as Kanye delivers a strong vocal performance over the wavy beat.

Later in the album, there is the song “Use This Gospel,” which is outstanding in my opinion.  Its foundation is a sample of a car door alarm, that alludes to the near-fatal crash that happened to West early in his career.  Also, there is a saxophone solo from Kenny G, which helps create an intense experience. Its lyrics discuss West’s transition to Christianity.

Having listened to this album, I think it can be concluded that West is making large changes in his life.  It is as radical as his 2013 album “Yeezus,” which makes sense considering it was initially going to be its sequel under the name “Yandhi.”  I do not think it is his best work, however. The tracks could have been more polished before the final release, and having listened to some of the leaks, there was a lot of unused potential.  For the final score, I give it a 6.5/10.