I am excited about this topic because I would have never thought that the day would come where I would hear a theologically and biblically sound album from Kanye West of all people – well, that day is here. I’ve listened to the album a few times now, twice for personal enjoyment and once for the purpose of this review (yes I study up on whatever subject matter that I decide to write on), and I must say I am a mixed bag of emotions towards this album, and not for the reasons one might think.
When I first heard the album I was in my car, and “Every Hour” had me ugly facing, my spirit started jumping when I heard “Selah”, and I was ready to get out the car and start shouting by the time I heard “Everything we Need”. For my readers who are not literate on black church etiquette, the aforementioned are common responses to when one feels the move of the Holy Spirit. in layman terms, its a response to that tingly feeling you get when you visit church or hear something spiritual.
Quick preface: I am a Christian, and I have roots in the black Baptist tradition of worshiping God (see the blog entry “Prayer of Consecration” for more insight on this).
The album was sound which is the first thing I look for when entertaining anything God related. “Sound” meaning the lyrics were in line with the teaching/message of the bible.
In “Selah” Kanye says:
Before the flood people judge
They did the same thing to Noah
In the story of Noah, God told him to build an ark because he was going to send a flood to wipe out creation and to essentially press the reset button. During that period of time while Noah started building the ark however, people were mocking and judging him for it (see Genesis 5:32-10:1).
Kanye then starts to quote scripture, citing John 8:33, John 8:36, Revelations 21:5, and Romans 7:24-25, and this is just in one song.
In “Everything We Need” he poses a question that I’m confident others have asked before:
What if Eve made apple juice
You gone do what Adam do
or say baby let’s put this back on the tree cause we have everything we need
Kanye is getting at a theological principle, that at the core of human existence there is a trust issue between us and God.
In “Water” Kanye cites Psalm 18:2.
In “God Is” Kanye cites Revelation 5:5 and speaks on the theological principle of Jesus; and his purpose of fulfilling the religious law and tearing down the wall that separated humans from having a real personal relationship with God.
The track “Jesus is Lord” is a riff off of the 7 trumpets sounding in the book of Revelations, Jesus descending and every knee having to bow, and every tongue having to confess that Jesus is Lord.
This is a general breakdown but you the gist, all the components are there.
Just because it was a sound album however, does not necessarily mean it was good one, and there were a few duds, like “Closed on Sunday” where Kanye raps:
Closed on Sunday you my Chick-Fil-A
You my number one, with the lemonade.
Nah that ain’t it.
This does however, speak to one of the issues that I personally have with being a Christian. It’s counter cultural. I’m not saying that’s a bad thing, because that was the mission of Jesus while on earth, but what I am saying is that it’s an “uncool” topic. No one wants to hear about how much of an upright life you are living. You’re the corny one when someone finds out that you care about what happens to them when they die. There are more reasons for this other than the subject matter being unpopular, and Kanye talks about it on the track “Hands On” where he says:
If I try to lead you to Jesus
We get called halfway believers
Only halfway read Ephesians
In other words, the culture criticizes the coolest thing about being a Christian and getting to know Jesus, and that’s, that when you get to know Him, you begin to change as a person and that’s a good thing.
Overall, I think this was a good album, definitely not a go to though; “Everything We Need” is the only song making it on one of my playlists. Frankly, there is just better music out there that covers the scope that this album does (Contemporary Christian/ gospel/ rap/ Christian rap). That being said, it’s Kanye, so its impossible for it to be an 100 percent flop. I’m happy for Kanye though, and the numbers do not lie; “Jesus is King” is Kanye’s fastest album to go number one, and the fastest album to hit over 38 million streams on Spotify in a 12-hour period.
I think Kanye’s intentions are pure in his endeavor to pursue Christ. That being said, the road to hell is paved by good intentions, and I do not know how steeped in the word he really is. Someone like him just because of his fame is susceptible of being used in manipulated by others. It was not even a full 24 hours after the album released for example, before Joel Osteen (Christian mega preacher) allegedly invited Kanye to his church for a Sunday service.
And to nip this argument in the bud, I do not think that there is a problem with profiting from the message of Jesus. At the end of the day the man has to provide for his family, and I do not think that it is God’s intention for any of us to lack anything spiritually, materially, or otherwise (John 10:10, James 1:4, John 15:8, Matthew 6:25). That being said I do not think it’s right to pimp God’s message, and to twist it for one’s own gain, nor do I think it’s okay for one to hoard possessions while here on earth, but that is a slightly different conversation.
All in all my final review of “Jesus is King” is… God is up to something, and its important that we all make peace in ourselves with our perception of Him. Whether or not you believe in Him that is still a thought process about Him that has to be reconciled.
When I first listened to this album I wondered, how many people will be saved and come to know Jesus just from Kanye and this album.
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