When Kanye West releases new music, it’s almost certain to spark cultural change. Whether his name triggers a feeling of pride or creates a feeling of bitter disgust—it’s hard not to pay attention.
Despite widely-mocked delays, the release and immediate response to Kanye West’s ninth album, “Jesus Is King,” has been as loud as a church choir. Like it or not, when Kayne talks, we listen, and as always, he has a lot to say. The only difference is, this time, he’s pushing religion.
I’ve always been a fan of Kanye West, and unfortunately, I feel like I always will be. I’m near the middle of the spectrum; while I don’t condone Kanye’s various controversial stunts, I find myself sticking by him based solely on the fact that he really is a great artist. Every album, somehow withstanding every controversy and out-of-pocket statement, is a cultural and musical force that deserves to be paid attention to. “Jesus is King” is certainly not West’s best release. To be honest, the best things about it are the cover art and the jazz saxophonist Kenny G; however, rating a Kanye album as bad would not be fair. There has yet to be an utterly useless album released under his name. In my opinion, it would be best to say that this album is better than “Ye,” which I am eager to call his worst. While nowhere near the likes of “Twisted Fantasy,” “Yeezus” or even “Pablo,” “Jesus is King” is still good – really good.
It’s not that I think that gospel music has no value in 2019; it’s really cool that Kanye has kids contemplating religion and all the existential thoughts that come along with that — especially in this current political environment. Yesterday, I was engaged in a truly thought-provoking conversation on the notion of God and the purpose of prayer with a self-described agnostic, a Christian and an atheist. Sure enough, this discussion was prompted after a passerby invited us to partake in their own Sunday Service proceeding.
Yet, for how interesting and deep these conversations can be, there is still part of me that just isn’t buying Kanye’s convictions. In order to maintain my own sanity, I’ve had to convince myself that Kanye is so far-out on some genius, visionary trip that all the crazy he has spewed over the past few years is all part of some enormous practical joke he’ll let us in on sometime in 2020. Otherwise, I’d have to accept the MAGA hat and abhorrent views on slavery as fact, and therefore, I would no longer be able to listen to “Graduation” without feeling like a degenerate.
While I’m sure you can pull up the Zane Lowe interview and any one of the original Sunday Services that started this whole mess as proof of his seriousness, I’m still not sold. I will, however, buy tickets to the IMAX movie, and I’m sure I’ll have weird feelings about it – but it wouldn’t be a true Kanye experience any other way.