Welp. It wasn’t a marketing stunt.
Kanye West has finally released his new album “Jesus is King” and it is an explicitly, unabashedly, amazingly Christian album.
Like, a legitimately Christian, Bible-verse-packed, cuss-word-free, not-heretical, seemingly very sincere work of art. Like, more Christian than the stuff you hear on K-Love. The only thing not Christian about this album is the super high production quality.
Come with me and let’s take a quick walk through “Jesus is King.”
But first — let me say that I understand many of you don’t get all the noise surrounding Kanye’s apparent recent conversion and subsequent shift to gospel-themed music. That’s OK. You’ll just have to trust those of us who follow these things that this is a really big deal. Hip hop guides our entire culture, and no one in rap is bigger than Kanye West.
“But his conversion is no more important than some unknown person’s conversion!” people have said to me. To which I say, ehhhhh that’s right and wrong. His conversion in and of itself, sure. But Kanye has sold 21 million albums and 100 million digital downloads. Millions of people listen to every word he utters. He has the potential to influence masses — masses — of people. So yeah. It’s a big deal.
Secondly — for anyone who grew up listening to hip hop like I did, who has watched it mold the culture at large, who still feel the sting of Lecrae going Charmin-soft … yes, this is really happening.
The first track, “Every Hour,” is basically the Sunday Service Choir belting out “Sing ’til the power of the Lord comes down” for 1:52 straight.
Track 2, “Selah,” starts with the words, “God is king, we’re the soldiers,” and features numerous Scripture references and chants of “Hallelujah!”
He raps, “Everyone wanted Yandhi, then Jesus Christ did the laundry.” I’m not going to explain that bar, but for those of you who know what he’s talking about — oh man.
Next track is called “Follow God.”
So, I mean, it’s called “Follow God.”
Track 4 is “Closed On Sunday.” This is the song everyone’s been talking about, mostly because of the Chick-fil-A line, “Closed on Sunday, you my Chick-fil-A.” Which, whatever. I’m more interested in the other lines in this song.
Preaching about family, Kanye says, “Raise our sons, train them in the faith; through temptations, make sure they’re wide awake.”
Then came this section which, I just, WOW:
“Follow Jesus, listen and obey. No more living for the culture we nobody’s slave. Stand up for my home. Even if I take this walk alone, I bow down to the king upon the throne. My life is his, I’m no longer my own.”
Listen to this sermon-song:
Next we have “On God,” which starts with the line, “How’d you get so much favor on your side? Accept him as your Lord and Savior, I replied.”
Next track is “Everything We Need.”
Track 7 is a funky little song called “Water,” in which he pleads with Jesus repeatedly to supply him with all he needs: “Jesus, flow through us; Jesus, heal the bruises; Jesus, clean the music; Jesus, please use us; Jesus, please help; Jesus, please heal; Jesus, please forgive; Jesus, please reveal.”
Next we have “God Is.” Here are some choice lines from it:
“Everything that has breath, praise the Lord. Worship Christ with the best of your portion. I know I won’t forget all he’s done. He’s the strength in this race that I run.”
“You won’t ever be the same, when you call on Jesus’ name. Listen to the words I’m saying, Jesus saved me now I’m sane.”
The song is a passionate cry of worship to God. From Kanye West. Listen to it:
Track 9 is called “Hands On” and oh my goodness:
“Nothing worse than hypocrite. Change? He ain’t really different. He ain’t even try to get permission. Asked for advice and they dissed him. Said I’m finna do a gospel album. What have you been hearing from the Christians? They’ll be the first one to judge me. Make it feel like nobody loves me. They’ll be the first one to judge me. Feeling like nobody loves me. Told people God was my mission. What have you been hearing from the Christians? They’ll be the first one to judge me. Make it feel like nobody loves me.”
The penultimate track is still bending my brain, mostly because it’s featuring Clipse and Kenny G. I fully realize that most people reading this are not too familiar with the former rap duo Clipse, but they are legendary.
Pusha T, No Malice, Kenny G, and Kanye West on the same track — on a song called “Use This Gospel.”
Is this real?
Which brings us to the final track of this project. It’s called “Jesus is Lord.” And it’s Kanye singing over a brass band for 49 seconds, “Every knee shall bow, every tongue confess, Jesus is Lord, Jesus is Lord.”
Fitting end to this explicitly, unabashedly, amazingly Christian album, no?
I don’t know what I expected going into this. I was just hoping he was sincere and really wanted to make an album to the glory of God. He’s a brand-new Christian so obviously I wasn’t expecting Beautiful Eulogy-level soteriological poetry.
I’m still in a bit of shock that one of the biggest recording artists of our generation just released this album. Let’s rejoice, and pray for all the people who are listening to it right now.
And for Kanye. Pray for Kanye. He’s going to get a lot of heat for this. Let’s pray that all the resistance he meets only serves to drive him closer to Jesus and His Word.