Kanye West
Jesus is King
GOOD Music/Def Jam Recordings, 2019

In a Word: Reformed  

Jesus Is King

 

"While I can’t recommend the film, the album Jesus is King is definitely worth listening to for its heartfelt and passionate expression of a new found faith."

The ninth studio album from controversial rapper Kanye West marks a radical departure from his previous work. Following what he describes as a radical conversion to Christianity, Jesus is King is an earnest expression of his new found faith.

Kanye West’s conversion led to the formation of a Gospel choir named the 'Sunday Service' that has been performing regularly on Sunday’s since its inception. The album features Kanye’s signature rapping combined with the Sunday Service’s soulful Gospel choir refrains. True to his roots, the beats, bass and chords are powerful, catchy and contemporary. New to the sound landscape are the more traditional organs, pianos and guitars that create an ecclesiastical atmosphere.

The subject matter of the 11 tracks on Jesus is King have been the subject of much discussion and controversy. No longer are the lyrics about sex, drugs, hedonism or a social commentary. Instead the topics range from the purity of baptism, the importance of the Sabbath, and declarations of praise to God. While some tracks such as Selah and God Is are rousing and triumphant, others such as Closed On Sunday, which praises fast food chain Chick-fil-A, are quirky in both concept and execution.

The album was released in conjunction with an experimental IMAX film that features the Sunday Service choir performing in an art installation in the Roden Crater, Arizona. The film itself is a curious 35 minute experience. Rather than presenting the album as a traditional music video, the film focuses on lengthy artistic shots taken at odd angles of the choir, conductor, corridors, sky and even close up of daffodils set to acoustic performances related to the album. While I can’t recommend the film, the album Jesus is King is definitely worth listening to for its heartfelt and passionate expression of a new found faith.

Kanye West’s influence extends beyond his music, to his clothing, social media presence and celebrity lifestyle with Kim Kardashian. Anyone of such a high profile will have a range of critics and fans no matter what they do. It is a significant development for Kanye West to be so open and dedicated to Christianity and this influence has the potential to be powerful and far-reaching. If this is what West can accomplish within a year of his conversion, I  look forward to what else he produces as his faith continues to mature and grow.