Everybody Wanted Yandhi, Then Jesus Christ Did The Laundry.
So how did Kanye West get me, a self proclaimed atheist of nearly a decade, singing about God, Jesus and all the good he’s done? Well that’s just Kanye West. Review over, 10/10.
Well no, you saw the score when you clicked this article, 3 out of 5. So let me explain why this album is slightly above average but still has playing on repeat, exclaiming how much God has changed my life.
(Let me get this out of the way first. No, this album did not make me rethink my relationship to religion, it did not make me believe in God and nor should it have. A body of music can be powerful, but you should always do extensive amounts of research before you make a significant change in your life such as that. PSA over, now back to the review.)
A little over a year ago, Kanye West said he would release Yandhi on September 29th, 2018. The album never dropped and a number of false hopes later, Kanye finally played for us an early version of “Jesus is King” on September 27th, 2019. Almost a year later, the album was slated to be released that day and then on the 29th, both dates were missed. Kanye’s fans were back where we started with no album and no answers from Kanye himself.
But there was one lead, Jesus is King: A Kanye West Film, which was said to be released on October 25th, 2019. Kanye confirmed that the album would be dropping alongside the film, much to the excitement of his fans. (Spoiler alert: He said midnight EST, and the album didn’t drop until noon).
So there I was on October 25th, tickets in hand, listening to some leaked Yandhi tracks while waiting for the film to start. (My friends and I vowed we wouldn’t listen to the album until after we saw the movie). So here’s my short, Jesus is King: A Kanye West Film, film review:
Jesus is King: A Kanye West Film, was definitely an artistic piece that could certainly be seen as incredibly divisive. In comparison to Kanye’s last publicly released film, Runaway, Jesus is King: A Kanye West Film, this one lacks any sort of narrative or reason to exist. It is not here to inform, persuade, or entertain, even though some may find it entertaining. The movie is a series of short performances, as seen through a small circular or elliptical lens, as if this is a window into Kanye’s mind, life or experience. The imagery put forth often shows circles, pillars of light, a staircase to Heaven, and I even saw what could be interpreted as a vinyl record (the album cover of Jesus Is King). The small performances we saw ranged from unimpressive to incredibly moving. Kanye’s acoustic rendition of Streetlights definitely had some singing along or moved to tears. But yet the film itself, left quite a bit to be desired with its short 30 minute run time.
Though maybe the album could have provided the rest of the story that we so desired. With 11 songs, and with an incredibly massive run time of 27 minutes, how could this album not? I am being facetious.
“Jesus Is King” is a fine album. I’ve even heard some Christians say that they finally feel that their voices are being heard in the grand scheme of popular rap, and even music due to this album. I could understand that. Kanye is definitely one of the biggest artists of current popular culture, and he could definitely make God look cool. The world is definitely not the same as it was when John Lennon said “The Beatles are more popular than Jesus”. I believe Christianity is on the decline as the world keeps growing, so maybe having someone like Kanye speak out could resonate with these young believers.
But to compare this to other albums, this one certainly falls somewhere in the middle to bottom of the list. In terms of production, Kanye continues to show us that he’s got it. From the young adult working on soulful beats for Jay-Z albums, to the melancholy drums on “808s and Heartbreak”, all the way to the aggressive industrial sound of Yeezus. Now to the angelic, harmonic linking of choral hymns with a mixture of deep aggressive drums and chanting. Kanye continues to show why he will never not be a contender for the GOAT of producing beats. That said, Kanye’s lyrics and subject matter leaves me wanting so much more.
I was fine when I heard that Kanye did not allow any cursing on the album.
I was distressed when I heard that Kanye had considered never rapping again because it was
the devil’s music.
And I was uncomfortable when I heard that people working on the album were not allowed to partake in things that Kanye deemed uncomfortable, such as drugs and premarital sex.
But I believed Kanye was gonna drop something good still.
And he did, it’s just that I wanted so much more.
The lyrics ofJesus is King, are incredibly direct and to the point. The album is about Kanye and his relationship to God, and that does not change whatsoever as the album progresses. Kanye’s faith is unwavering, and similarly neither is the album. From song to song we go through Kanye speaking exclusively about God and how he does certain things but only because God wants him to. It’s interesting, it’s enjoyable, but not what I wanted. The album does not speak to me like The Life of Pablo, Yeezus, and 808s did. Maybe I’m really missing something by not believing in God. Maybe Kanye has finally made an album that isn’t for me and if he continues to go down this path then maybe I’ll stop listening, but Kanye is ever-changing. I don’t see this lasting forever, and I mean, I’m still bumping to this album in the car, but it’s just not up there with the rest of his discography.
Shout out to all the standout performances from the featured artists, especially Pusha T, No Malice, Kenny G, and Fred Hammond. They made the album much more enjoyable with their contributions.
Best Song: Follow God, a strong rap song from Kanye with an amazing beat and amazing flow, though the lyrics and rhyme scheme might be a little weak.
Worst Song:Every Hour, an all chorus song by the Sunday Service chorus, it’s perfectly fine but I don’t particularly want to listen to it every time I put the album on. A skip 50% of the time.
Best Line: “Closed on Sunday, you’re my Chick-fil-A”. This is just a classic Kanye line, I can’t hate how silly it is. Especially as the lead in to a much more serious song.
Worst Line: “You’re my number one, with the lemonade”. This is a fun line that comes packed in with my “Best Line” pick but, when you’re talking about not allowing your daughters to be indoctrinated and to raise your sons as followers of the faith, this is pretty jarring not gonna lie.
Best Feature: Pusha T, by far. Pusha T will always own whatever track he’s on and it’s no different with his feature on Use This Gospel. It also feels ambiguous enough that Pusha T could be rapping about anything, not just God. But for the love of God, Kanye please drop his full verse, I know you’re holding out on me.