Kanye West has always been open about his faith and belief in God, going so far as to debut his Sunday Services in early 2016, an invite-only church-ish service. The service features his newly formed gospel group called the Sunday Service Choir, headed by Jason White. Released on October 25, his latest album “JESUS IS KING” amplifies his faithful characteristics, promoting positive, clean, and praise-filled songs aboutChristianity. However, some think that his faith in God is part of a publicity stunt to remake his image. But why would he want to change his image? Let’s look at the receipts:
In 2016, West released “Famous.” This song was controversial for its lyrics, especially the ones directed at Taylor Swift like, “I feel like me and Taylor might still have sex / Why? I made that b**** famous / I made that b**** famous.” After these lyrics came under fire, West defended himself on Twitter saying that Swift gave her permission for those lyrics. However, a statement by Swift’s rep said that West asked Swift to release the song on her Twitter account, not permission about the lyrics. That same year, West declared his support for Donald Trump and wore a “Make America Great Again” hat. Two years later in a TMZ interview, West found himself in the middle of another controversy after he said, “When you hear about slavery for 400 years. For 400 years?! That sounds like a choice. Like, you were there for 400 years and it’s all of y’all.”
Given his history, it isn’t a surprise that people were skeptical of this album and West. Especially Christians—whom West addresses in “Hands On” with the lyrics, “What have you been hearin’ from the Christians? / They’ll be the first one to judge me / Make it feel like nobody love me” and “I deserve all the criticism you got / If that’s all the love you have, that’s all you got / To sing of change, you think I’m joking / To praise His name, you ask what I’m smoking”— were worried that West’s conversion was not sincere. The album opens with “Every Hour,” a song about singing praises to God. Featuring the Sunday Service Choir, giving listeners a taste of what to expect from West’s ninth album. This twist on gospel music is extremely different from West’s previous albums, which dissed other artists and were full of vulgar language. You’re sure to not see EXPLICIT under any of the songs in “JESUS IS KING.”
The album debuted at the top of the Billboard 200, making it West’s ninth consecutive No. 1 album, a record tied with Eminem. All 11 songs on the album broke the Hot 100 chart, with “Follow God” at No. 7, “Closed On Sunday” at No. 17, “Selah” at No. 19, “On God” at No. 23, “Everything We Need” at No. 33, “God Is” at No. 36, “Use This Gospel” at No. 37, “Every Hour” at No. 45, “Water” at No. 51, “Hands On” at No. 60, and “Jesus Is Lord” at No. 63.
As a believer in God, I was skeptical of West’s intentions with this album and the kind of music that was going to be on it. However, I found my personal favorites on the album, including “Every Hour,” “Follow God,” and “Use This Gospel.” “Every Hour,” which features the Sunday Service Choir, is a great upbeat song that praises talks about praising God through singing gospel. I really like that West keeps his musical style in “Follow God” while keeping his lyrics clean and thoughtful.