On God: The Long, Hard Road to Redemption of Kanye West’s Most Radical Departure Yet

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On God: The Long, Hard Road to Redemption of Kanye West’s Most Radical Departure Yet

A meme concerning Kanye’s new album and its strong Christian overtones

A meme concerning Kanye’s new album and its strong Christian overtones

ruinmyweek.com

A meme concerning Kanye’s new album and its strong Christian overtones

ruinmyweek.com

ruinmyweek.com

A meme concerning Kanye’s new album and its strong Christian overtones

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Ye.  It’s all I need to draw you in closer, if the headline for this piece hasn’t already accomplished that.  I sit here writing this on the eve of the release date for one of the most storied and anticipated albums of the 2010s, Kanye West’s follow-up to his more-EP-than-album Ye, released last year.  I am, of course, speaking vaguely about his ‘gospel rap’ tape, clothed in blue, with a title as blunt as Snoop Dogg’s finest: Jesus Is King.  Once Yandhi, once recorded in Chicago, once in Uganda, once in Wyoming, once in L.A. and Miami, it’s hard to pinpoint where, or what, this album is.  Having had its release date pushed back over a year, the hype for Jesus has either reached a fever pitch or been shot down altogether, depending on who you ask.  Having been a Kanye fan for only about half a year, I struggle to make heads or tails of this musical enigma, but I made sure to bet $0.50 with a friend of mine that the album would not show up on the 25th of October–today, the 24th.  Although I will likely lose fifty cents, it’s a commentary on how laughable the premise for this whole album is—Gospel? Clean Kanye? An IMAX supporting film?  

The man whose hand I shook for the bet, senior Tyler O’Brien, is mad hyped for the album.

“Kanye is a godlike artist with magnificent lyrics that have helped me a multitude of times.  He could never be replaced. I can say with full certainty that Mr. West is out of his silent coma and is coming out loud and proud in his upcoming gospel-rap, first ever swear-free album, Jesus is King,” O’Brien said.

Kanye offering an explanation hours after the album was supposed to be released

Update: 7:05 a.m.  10/25. No Jesus Is King.  I chuckle as I realize that the two quarters will likely be mine.  As hours roll by, it seems to be the case that the album will be listenable by midday.  Ah.

Update: 12:03 p.m.  10/25. The Eagle has landed.  I’m down half a dollar. As I frustratedly hit ‘retry’ on the several songs failing to download on the school’s subpar internet connection, I feel a sense of nervousness tingling in my waiting eardrums.  This album will be crap. I just know it. Ever since Yandhi was teased over a year ago, the tension has risen and fallen wildly.  God (no pun intended) knows how the finished product will hold up all this time later.

Update: 7:19 p.m.  10/25. Into the second listen of this album.  Altogether too brief at under thirty minutes, this blunt collection of songs is, ultimately, a fine album, but not a fine Kanye West album. “Jesus Is King’s 11 songs form an effort that is better than many skeptics anticipated, yet still falls short of its pre-game hype,” notes Oliver Wang for npr.org.  That multidimensional, hard-hitting, indulgence-filled nature of the album that got me into the man’s work in the first place, My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, is largely absent.  Rolling Stone feels more or less the same—they awarded the album 2.5 stars out of five.

It’s more than his last solo work, Ye—but it comes off as being more of less.  Ye hit me with a jaw punch on track one, even if most of the following tracks weren’t much to write home about.  Jesus starts with an upbeat choir before dropping the audience into the first ‘real’ song, a decent start in my opinion, but a bit too expected.  This album, too, pales in comparison to Kanye’s and Kid Cudi’s Kids See Ghosts, a richly-made set of songs that rivals things I’ve heard from the likes of Mike Patton and Led Zeppelin IIJesus does have some of that Kanye uniqueness though, including a Kenny G. performance and feature from Clipse (a duo including Pusha T, possibly my favorite rap artist at the moment) on the song “Use This Gospel,” possibly the strongest song on the album.

O’Brien, like me, feels let down by the finished product: “I found ‘Follow God’ to be the best track and one of his better songs he’s ever written, but Kanye’s transition across the album from fast-paced to slow gospel did not benefit the album. Also, the tracks being all less than four minutes made it seem as if Kanye didn’t care as much as he should have.  I still praise Kanye, though, and will support him through this minor downfall and hope for the return to his truly bold and confident character along with his unstoppable personality.” In the end, Jesus Is King should not stand with West’s classics—it is an independent entity, one that most likely will not be replicated again by the man, despite his claims that he is done rapping explicitly and secularly.  The laughably extended wait, in my eyes, was all for relatively nothing.  The blue vinyl record on the cover, the antithesis of the blank CD on the cover of Yeezus, both humble and attention-demanding, is worth a few spins under the needle—but it’s likely that you won’t return to much of this holier-than-thou album.  Nevertheless, tell your mom that Kanye created a clean, Christian record. She’ll thank you for it.