Album Review: “Jesus is King”

Brendan Paige ‘20, Guest Columnist

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The long awaited ninth studio album by the eccentric and controversial Kanye West is finally out.  The great rapper and producer finally dropped his album after multiple delays, titling it as “Jesus is King”.  In late 2018, many people were expecting his original ninth album to be titled Yandhi” but that album was scrapped at the very last minute.  This has been a recent theme under the “outlandish” Kanye era after this album also had multiple delays.  While originally planned to release in late September, the album finally dropped on October 25th, 2019, which is not as originally planned.  Ye tweeted that it would have come out on midnight, but he still had to make a few changes, leaving it to drop later that Friday.  This whole delaying of projects pretty much wraps up my feelings towards this record.  Although Kanye has started a new direction of finding God and putting his faith in Christianity, much of his ideas have not changed under this newfound religion.  While I think it is great that Kanye is able to find peace through religion, there are still many problems with this record that I felt were prevalent on his eight-studio album, Ye.  While Kanye called this a “gospel album,” despite the religious theme and choir centric music, much of the album wouldn’t ever really be considered gospel.

The production on this thing is great on most songs. It starts with the Sunday Service Choir singing “Every Hour.”  The music is very uplifting and the production is strong while the choir brings a huge energy to the track.  Moving on, “Selah” is probably my favorite song, production wise, off of the album.  We see this song have a strong dark drum banging in the background that slowly crescendos as Ye spits. The build is fantastic and reaching to the “Hallelujah” of the choir is amazing to hear and shows how great Kanye still is with production.  The rest of the track continues this build up and still keeps on banging as Ye finishes his verse. While the production is great, there are many problems with the lyrics.  Kanye simply states in the second verse what would be considered almost blasphemous to Christians stating that his betrayal by the public for him liking Trump and not fully supporting the African-American community is similar to Judas’s betrayal of Jesus.  We still see the same, boastful Kanye here, making him the same ego-centric rapper.

Moving on to my second favorite song, “Follow God,” we see classic Kanye here spitting over an old sample with a driving beat that he spits over.  He states that he hasn’t been “Christ-like” recently and the song itself is just a great banger.  “Closed on Sunday,” the next track, might be one of the worst lyrical songs I have ever heard.  Ye states “Closed on Sunday, you my Chick-Fil-A, you my number 1 with the lemonade.”  These might be the most cringiest bars of the years besides most of Chance the Rapper’s The Big Day album. The production is fantastic on this song, and has this creepy, dark beat to it, but the lyrics are so goofy it is hard to take the song serious.

Much of the rest of the album has the same notice to it.  “On God,” “Water,” and “God Is” all have very unfinished sounds to it which doesn’t make sense since Kanye delayed to album to finish music.  It just seems that Kanye really doesn’t care anymore and the masses will accept anything he puts out immediately as golden.  Much of Ye’s singing on these tracks is very poorly done and while he has never been that great at singing, the quality of his voice almost sounds distorted and off key.  “Water” also has some of the worst production I have heard from Kanye with just this continuous same beat of that never changes.  Almost all of these songs lack any creativity which is weird to see from someone as great as Kanye.

Kanye finishes his album with “Use This Gospel” and “Jesus Is Lord.”  The first of these two is fantastic lyrically and has the same swooping and build up production that the first few songs on this album contains.  We see it crescendoing like in “Selah” with a choir humming along with Kanye. Despite the annoying “ding” noise in the background, I feel that it has great production and the addition of Kenny G’s saxophone solo is fantastic.  The album finishes with “Jesus Is Lord” a 49 second track that I am not sure what to take from it.  It seems like it should be more of an intro track and ends the album in a weird way that I think would seem jarring to any listener.

Much of this album just seems unfinished in production, lyrics, and overall quality.  While there is still typical Ye here, his new “gospel vibe” really doesn’t bring anything new to the table.  Kanye never commits to the full idea of a gospel sounding album.  There are great moments, like “Selah” and “Use This Gospel” where we see this focus, but much of the other songs lack it.  Lyrically, despite the focus on religion, Kanye mainly expresses what religion has done for himself and how he views it now. While I am by no way knocking his new-found beliefs, it still seems that Kanye is struggling as person. Much of what is seen on Ye is still here, with the unfinished quality of the music and lack of focus.  If he possibly committed to the full idea of a gospel album mixed with hip-hop, this could have been a compelling a new take from Kanye.  But overall, it is pretty much most of the same, making this one of my least favorite records by him.  Hopefully we will begin to see more out of Kanye in the years to come, but I am not sure how much longer he can survive as an artist making these minimalist and unfinished projects. 

Score: 4.5/10

Favorite Tracks: “Selah” “Follow God” “Use This Gospel”

Least Favorite Tracks: “Water” “God Is”

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