Over the past year, Kanye West has managed to assert himself as an outspoken media personality shrouded by a cloud of controversies.
His support for Donald Trump, his announced his run for president, and even falsely stating that slavery is a choice.
Despite the chaos, he managed to drop some of the year’s most critically acclaimed albums.
Kanye then announced the release of a full-length album Yahndi—only, it was never released.
Instead, after a year of delay, and final touches being added to the album hours before its release time, Kanye dropped his ninth full-length release: Jesus is King.
The title itself hints at Kanye’s personal transformation through Christianity, which is heavily reflected in lyrics such as, “I bow down to the king upon the throne,” and the beautifully orchestrated choir reminiscent of his Sunday Service performances
The album opens with a futuristic and ominous organ instrumentation in his song “Selah” and appears to set the tone for the rest of the album.
A robust drum set echoing Kanye’s religious epiphany and passion for his Christian belief.
The organ instrumental is representative of the voice of God and carries throughout the song before making way for the unified and powerful harmonies of the Sunday Service choir.
A few songs reflect a similar creative approach such as the euphoric production on the track “On God”, the track “God Is,” with its beautiful use of a sample of the same name by James Cleveland draped with Kanye’s tranquil vocals, the simple beat on “Use this Gospel,” translating the simple message of religion with Kanye’s own autotuned choir vocals and the fantastic lyricism on the verse by Clipse.
Still, the album falls short in many respects.
Either it leaves the listener wanting more or does not accomplish what it set out to do.
For one, the album is meant to be representative of a humble approach to religion but features a more egotistical view as Kanye compares his own ridicule against the hardships of Jesus Christ in ‘On God,’ insisting “that’s why I charge the prices that I charge.”
There are also instances of bad lyricism such as “closed on Sunday, you’re my chick-fil-A” (like seriously), which divert the listener’s attention from the seriousness of the message.
The song “Water” features sporadic production, which contradicts the smooth flow and message behind the lyrics.
But the album does present more nuanced instances of creative potential that should have grown out throughout this album. This includes the unsettling production on the track “Hands On,” which, unfortunately, never develops in terms of sound. The track “Everything We Need” features a beautiful vocal harmony by Ty Dolla Sign but is otherwise lackluster.
Overall, the album presents the image of a Gospel album by featuring choirs and references to Jesus Christ with a few fantastic songs such as “Selah,” but the album reflects more of Kanye’s egotistical interpretation of religion and contradicts the humble approach he seemingly intends.
The album was a refreshing new approach for Kanye and one that makes creative use of instrumentals such as the transition from organ pipes representing to saxophones, which represent reflection and introspection but lacks the consistency to hold together Kanye’s interpreted message of religion. 7/10.