After declaring his seventh studio album TLOP was a gospel album, he later battled some personal demons on his eighth album Ye. Scrapped what was supposed to be “Yandhi” only to decree his ninth album Jesus Is King, which isn’t just a gospel album, but his testimony.
It’s doesn’t take long before you realize JIK isn’t an extension of West’s weekly Sunday Service, but more so his own weekday. Easy to argue if it is or isn’t a gospel album when the majority of gospel songs surpass the five-minute mark and none of Kanye’s songs touched four minutes. In fact, the album’s duration ends after 27 minutes, but we know most black church services are just getting seated within the first 27 minutes.
Of course, this new genre comes with a few gospel artists sprinkled in to assist with notoriety, but the features never overshadow or take away for what it is Mr. West is doing. And nowadays we’re always uncertain what it is he’s actually trying to convey. One thing that’s clear is he’s no longer overly obsessed with perfecting the quality of his vocal production. West’s sound has always been ahead of its time, and although this isn’t your traditional gospel album, with a distinctive gospel sound, it has the ability and content to be categorized as Christian Rap.
JIK borrows moments from all of Kanye’s musical eras. You sense he’s on the brink of meshing his spiritual sound and creative sound together in marriage. However, that doesn’t mean all of his hymns escaped falling flat (Closed on Sunday.) “Use the Gospel” reunited The Clipse, and would have interrupted the feel of the LP had it not been the last full song of the batch. The material will also cause most to miss some of the punchlines and references if not familiar with the Bible and its stories/verses.
Jesus Is King is 808’s 2.0. Whether you wish to refer to it as a spiritual quest or a creative crisis, you can’t deny Kanye’s ability to redefine or seamlessly tap into genres without being questioned…or not (Hands-On)? The lyrics may wreak of a newly devoted Christian with the overuse of popular Bible verses quoted throughout the album. However, this album shouldn’t come as a surprise, being gospel music has always been heavily influenced throughout his discography for the past fifteen years. JIK is an extension of his soulful sampling, and with a close listen, you’ll realize he hasn’t necessarily veered away from the sound he’s always provided his listeners with. Kanye’s sermon is on his past sin, struggle and his gratefulness to how God saved him. There are moments where it sounds like Sunday Morning in a black church (God Is) and there are moments where it doesn’t (Selah.) JIK is a testament to West’s constant shift in his faith. This album has been a long time in the making from the man who told you he was here to turn atheist into believers.
So, is it a gospel album? With Jesus at the forefront of all its content, and the overall message never straying away from Jesus. I guess we’ll have to see if Jesus Is King takes away from his spins, ends, or sins?
Written by Brian Anthony