Kanye West shocked many with the release of his new album, Jesus is King. Whether you’re a fan of his music or not, you were probably caught off guard with his sudden switch to “gospel trap,” as some have called it.
“Everything that hath breath praise the Lord, worship Christ with the best of your portions…” raps West in “God Is.” The album consisted of music that not only had religious lyrics but religious musical components, including gospel choirs and Bible readings.
“Selah” features pipe organs and a choir chanting “Hallelujah,” which creates an effect of being in a church. If you’re someone who attended church every Sunday as a kid, these sounds might be all too familiar.
While West has received criticism for the album, the musical components are an area where many people agree his album succeeded. Many of the elements, such as the pipe organs and the chanting of “Hallelujah,” have a pleasing sound to it.
“For half an hour, I was a devout Christian,” one user commented under the “Selah” lyrics on Genius.com. “When the Hallelujah chants came in, I had already converted to Christianity,” another wrote.
If you’re looking for that traditional Kanye West sound, “Follow God” and “On God” may be the songs for you. The beat of these songs sound like his typical hip-hop songs. If the religious lyrics in the album bother you too much, these two songs feature the least number of spiritual lyrics and concepts, despite their titles.
One song on the album that I believe to be one of the least appealing is “Closed on Sunday.” While the beat was alright, the lyrics seemed to support Chick-fil-A’s religious practices. The fast-food chain owners implemented the closure on Sundays because they are extremely religious and attend church every week.
The numerous references about this fast-food chain align with West’s spiritual awakening because he, like the owners, believes in obeying Jesus. It’s interesting to note that there was no mention of the chain’s homophobic rhetoric in the song. Perhaps West wanted to focus literally on Chick-fil-A’s worshipping practices. He even ended the song screaming the chain’s name.
While West might have accepted Jesus into his life, Christians haven’t accepted him.
“Wait, wasn’t he calling himself Jesus a few months ago?” one Facebook user wrote under a post about his album. “Proof he will do anything to make a dollar. What a sell-out” another wrote.
West has referred to himself as a god in the rap genre with his 2013 album Yeezus. The name derives from Kanye’s nickname, Ye, and Jesus. People accused West of blasphemy: “‘Jesus Is King’… They’re talking about the self-proclaimed god Kanye West, who is a mere man,” one Twitter critic wrote.
Additionally, people are bringing up West’s past song lyrics. Another Twitter critic wrote: “[West has] create[d] music objectifying women for years… Kanye is now telling Kim how to dress because it doesn’t align with HIS new views.”
Not only this, but his Sunday Services, which he began in January 2019, have been an area of criticism as well. The service consists of a performance by West and various other artists, such as a choir group The Samples, which includes pop songs rewritten to have religious themes.
People have accused West of hypocrisy with these services. The event is invite-only, which consists of the rich and famous. Church-goers claim that his services do not reflect church values, one of which is being open to everyone. While this argument may have a point, it is not all accurate.
If average people were able to attend this service, West and his family would surely be swarmed by fans who aren’t there to participate, but rather take pictures with famous people. It would be challenging to manage out-of-hand fans and the safety of the well-known people attending the service.
Whether you buy into West’s spiritual awakening or not, the album is still something you can listen to and enjoy—if “gospel trap” is something you’re into. Jesus is King is available on all streaming platforms, including Spotify and Apple Music. So, take a listen and see what you think.