Not many figures within music have caused such a stir as Kanye West. Hailed simultaneously as a hip-hop genius and controversial public figure, his reputation varies widely from individual to individual. Many are familiar with his brash, outspoken personality and vulgar song lyrics—that is—before his recent born-again conversion to Christianity.
“JESUS IS KING” is West’s most recent album, released on October 25. Currently gripping the charts, the album makes a stark turn away from West’s normal themes. Instead, the album is totally Christian-based. Chocked full of Bible references, it is a new venue for West, one that he says will be his only from here on out.
The album’s content is surprisingly in-line with commonly held worship values. In “Selah,” the album’s spirited second track, West says, “Love God and our neighbor as written in Luke. The army of God and we are the truth.” He makes a bold statement, one that he pushes faithfully for the entirety of the album.
West also employs the vocal company of a gospel choir featured on several of his tracks, including the very first “Every Hour.” Their voices are enough to send shivers down your spine. The choir, called Sunday Service Choir, provides an emotional calling to the Lord sure to touch the hearts of anyone who listens.
The news of “JESUS IS KING” hit the public in many different ways. All different types of communities had some sort of dialogue about this, from his die-hard fans to political figures to the Christian community.
Many believers have come out in strong support of West, stating that his reach and influence is a good way to bring his listeners closer to God. And, to a certain extent, that seems to be the case. Google searches for the word “Jesus” massively spiked the day “JESUS IS KING” released, along with related searches such as “What do Christians believe?”
A large portion of the Christian community sees West as inspiring people, especially youth, to look closer at who Jesus is. Many though, are not as amused by the spectacle of it all.
Many claim Kanye is not sincere in his conversion and is using Jesus’s name in order to climb the financial ranks. West has been accused of subscribing to “prosperity gospel,” an ideology that states God rewards increases in faith with increases in wealth. Admittedly, West doesn’t come across as the most humble of people sometimes.
Musically, it’s hard to deny the album is impressive. The tracks are very well composed, with punchy rhythms and dynamic instrumentals. Whether or not West truly has had a transformation of heart is probably something only he himself will know. Nevertheless, he continues to create music that connects with the public and influences the culture. Just, in this instance, West seems to be taking up a different kind of culture, one that many mainstream ideals don’t align with.
“Every time I look up, I see God’s faithfulness,” West sings on “God Is,” “And it shows just how much He is miraculous.” The artist’s attitude within the album is refreshing as he seems to come from a spirit of gratitude, something any believer can appreciate. The public is watching—and listening—intensely to West. For now, he has delivered to us an album that glorifies God. His efforts are being appreciated globally as people flock to his message.