I didn’t want to do this. I really didn’t. But I’m doing it anyways because I have some thoughts on this particular project. A year ago, I said that I was done with Kanye after all of the things he’s pulled. Now, I’m still done with him. Remember when Kanye was supposed to put out Yandhi? Well, that’s no longer happening. This year, Kanye started doing the Sunday Service performances where he basically performed gospel remixes of his songs and others. With this, it was announced that Yandhi would be scrapped and taking its place would be a Christian rap/gospel album where Kanye expresses his salvation in being a born-again Christian. Now before I start the review, let me state that even though I am an atheist, that doesn’t mean that I can’t enjoy works that have religious themes and concepts. One of my favorite rappers, Kendrick Lamar, talks about his faith a lot and the struggle he went through that drove him there. Many rappers have mentioned their faith on record. It’s all in how you deliver and execute. So what brand of Christianity does Kanye bring to the table? Well, let’s find out. This is Jesus Is King.
1. Every Hour ft Sunday Service Choir: We start off with Every Hour, which has no vocals from Kanye, but it’s performed by the Sunday Service Choir. I must say that this ain’t a bad way to start the album. The gospel choirs sound great alongside the music. It sounds like exactly what you expect a gospel song to sound like, but it was cool. Maybe this album won’t be that bad. I give this track a 3/5.
2. Selah: Next is Selah, which is pretty good on a music level thanks to the organs and gospel choirs. The main problem with the track, though, is Kanye himself, where he wants to be praised for doing good things, comparing himself to Noah, and quoting a bunch of Bible passages. It feels like Kanye doesn’t realize that talking about doing the right thing isn’t the same thing as actually doing the right thing. Also, the rapping is amateurish and the mixing feels off, especially with his voice. Overall, it’s not bad, but it’s not a song that I’m going to remember after hearing it. I give it a 2/5.
3. Follow God: Follow God is the highest charting song on the album and it’s where my hopes of this being a decent album starts becoming shaky. Like the last two tracks, the production is the best part, especially with how he flipped the sample. Again, Kanye is the problem. He rants against Instagram like an old boomer complaining about those darn millennials, complaining to his dad who told him “that ain’t Christ like,” but nobody ever told him when you’re like Christ. Isn’t that the whole point? According to Christianity, no man could ever be like Jesus, he’s pretty much the only individual who could ever be considered perfect. It’s very telling of what Kanye ultimately wants, which is to be at the same level as Jesus Christ. Also, that scream at the end of the track. Overall, this song is a disappointment and I give it a 2/5.
4. Closed On Sunday: True story, when I got to this track upon my first listen to the album, I stopped half-way and said, “NOPE!! I QUIT!!” Why? Because of this.
Closed on Sunday, you my Chick-fil-A
You're my number one, with the lemonade
You know? I’ve once tried out Chick-Fil-A’s chicken sandwich before and it was alright at best, definitely overrated. I don’t see why people love it so much. Besides, Popeyes is better, at least they’re open on Sundays. Also, the founders of Chick-Fil-A have donated to various organizations that oppose same-sex marriage and other LGBT+ causes. Yeah, that’s a no for me, dawg. If you look at the rest of the lyrics, it comes off like an old conservative’s Facebook ramblings, urging people to “put the ‘Gram away” (okay, boomer), protecting daughters and training sons, threatening people who step on his property, and denouncing promiscuity and the culture. This tells you a lot about the kind of Christianity that Kanye’s pushing for, the kind that would unironically praise a homophobic fast food restaurant and panders to the right-wing evangelical echo chamber that’s propping up the current White House administration. Aside from that, the song also sucks on a music level as it’s just Kanye singing badly over a cheap acoustic guitar and a beeping sound that gives off a paranoid atmosphere that isn’t pleasant at all. This is garbage. This is the type of song that if it was made by ANYONE else, it would have been career suicide. But because it was made by Kanye, you got stans who will praise it like it was the second coming of Jesus. Closed On Sunday? This should be closed forever. This is an EASY 1/5.
5. On God: Next is On God, which features a limp beat with video game synths and some really abhorrent lines from Kanye. This dude talks about being the greatest artist alive (nice to see that the ego has never changed), complains about the IRS, calling for the abolition of the 13th Amendment, and tries to justify selling overpriced merchandise because he doesn’t want to be on Dancing With The Stars and he doesn’t want his family to starve. Oh, yeah. The multimillion dollar rapper/producer who married into the extremely wealthy Kardashian family has to worry about his family starving. It’s not like there’s an entire class of people who are one missed paycheck away from losing everything they have because of a corrupt system that benefits the 1%. Also, this same rapper/producer is slated to perform at Joel Osteen’s megachurch. You know, the same mega-pastor who wouldn’t open his church for victims of Hurricane Harvey. Allow me to recite two Bible passages to you all:
For the love of money is the root of all evil, which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.-Timothy 6:10
Whoever loves money never has enough, whoever loves wealth is never satisfied with their income, This too is meaningless.-Ecclesiastes 5:10
Hey, just because I’m not a believer doesn’t mean that I think the Bible doesn’t have good lessons. This song gets a 1/5.
6. Everything We Need ft Ty Dolla Sign & Ant Clemons: Fun fact: Everything We Need was supposed to be a Yandhi track and then was changed to fit a Christian theme and it’s very obvious that this was supposed to be a Yandhi cut. Either way, the song is still underwhelming with Ty Dolla Sign and Ant Clemons’ harmonies being the only good part of it. The production sounds cheap and Kanye is clearly phoning it in as he says lines like:
What if Eve made apple juice
Yeah, this is a no for me. I give it a 1.5/5.
7. Water ft Ant Clemons: Next is Water and it’s also pretty bad. The vocals on this song are terrible. Even the choirs couldn’t make up for how bad the singing is. The production is also weaksauce like a single raindrop. Kanye sounds bored on this as he’s talking to Jesus and mentioning his name several times ad-nauseum. What brings this song down, along with the rest of the tracks on this album, is the mixing, which feels like it was done by a first-timer and that shouldn’t be the case for a Kanye album. This is a 1/5.
8. God Is: This is the track that sounds the closest to the old Kanye with the pitched-up sample and it sounds pretty good. That is until Kanye opens his mouth and tries to sing, but his singing here sounds awful. This makes listening to the track painful. Bro, couldn’t you have just done another take where you don’t sound like you’re recovering from a really bad cold? There’s a difference between passionate singing and just plain bad singing. All he’s doing here is praising God in the most basic ways possible an he’s just preaching to the choir on this one. He claims that Jesus made him sane, which is questionable considering the man is bipolar. Just saying. Overall, because of the awful singing, this song gets a 2/5.
9. Hands On ft Fred Hammond: Look at that. After 8 tracks, we finally get a feature from an actual gospel artist. This time, we have Fred Hammond featured on Hands On and he couldn’t do anything to make this track good. Great job, Yeezy. On this track, Kanye talks about the 13th Amendment again, how he was working with the devil before being reborn, and whining about Christians judging him, which should be expected because despite passages from Matthew 7:1-5, Christians are VERY judgmental. And in the end, he wants somebody to pray for him. I’m keeping my hands off this one. I give it a 1/5.
10. Use This Gospel ft Clipse & Kenny G: Only in 2019 does a track featuring a sax solo from Kenny G wind up being one of the best parts of a Kanye album. That doesn’t mean the song is great: the beeping sound gets grating as the track goes on and the vocals are poorly mixed. In terms of positives, we finally get a Clipse reunion with Pusha T and No Malice seeking forgiveness for their actions and praising God. What makes this work over everything else in the album is that there’s actual nuance within the track, especially in No Malice’s verse where he mentions the lives he ruined and the last line was pretty dope, where he says “Just hold on to your brother when his faith lost.” If the album was like this, it would have been great. But Kanye doesn’t have it in him anymore to deliver anything deep and thoughtful, it’s all surface-level. The sax solo was cool, though. Anyways, I give Use This Gospel a 3/5.
11. Jesus Is Lord: We’re finally at the end of the album where Kanye repeatedly claims that Jesus is Lord over brass instrumentation for 50 seconds. That’s it. Appropriate, I guess. It’s still trash, but it’s over at last. If I believed in God, I would thank him for this thing being over. I give Jesus Is Lord a 1/5.
Every Hour, Use This Gospel
Closed On Sunday, On God, Hands On
I give Jesus Is King a 2/5. Guys, this is not a good album. The most praise I can give this is that the production in some of the songs are pretty good and some of the guest features deliver. But Kanye brings the whole thing down with sloppy mixing, terrible lyrics, and content that’s just shallow and self-serving. There’s so many opportunities where he could have elevated to greatness with the concept of salvation and finding comfort through Jesus, but he missed the mark and gave us a project that ultimately feels rushed. Each track averages around one or two minutes long and it feels like there’s something missing. Kanye has made faith-based songs before (Ultralight Beam, Jesus Walks, etc.), but this is just a milquetoast Christian rap album that presents the most obnoxious, pretentious, holier-than-thou version of Christianity that’s more about enriching one’s self than be a good person and help others and is driving more people to identify as non-religious through the years. There’s much better gospel music from real gospel artists out there and there’s much better Christian rap music out there. Lecrae DOES exist, you know. Overall, this is Kanye’s worst album to date and it’s a shame because I used to be a fan. But after My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, the quality of his material has been going down and it seems like he’s not putting in any effort to try and be innovative like he used to be. If this Jesus stuff helps him in his personal life, that’s fine, but if this is the direction he wants to take his music, well, I already checked out, but this confirms it. The old Kanye ain’t coming back, but his old stuff will always be there, which I’m perfectly fine with.
SONG OF THE WEEK
Jesus Walks-Kanye West