Kanye’s latest album sparks discussion among listeners

by Alexandra D’Eramo

Jesus Is King is Kanye West’s ninth studio album which was released on Friday, Oct. 25. This album is quite different than the previous eight albums that he has released. Kanye describes his new album as an “expression of the gospel.” Kanye fans have never seen him drop an album with religious ties, so it came as a shock to many who were unaware of his newfound love and investment into his faith. 

“My thoughts on it is that it’s really different,” said University of Tampa junior psychology major, Jordan Gile.“Honestly nobody that listens to Kanye would think that they’d be exposed to spiritual music.” 

He received a lot of backlash from those who believe this is all a phony act to make up for previous events in the media that caused controversial reactions; moveover, dissing Taylor Swift at the VMA’s and avidly support President Donald Trump on Twitter. 

Due to his very direct and hard turn toward spiritual music, black Christians have accused West of hypocrisy and commodification – especially given his support of Donald Trump and his eyebrow-raising comment that slavery “sounds like a choice.”

On the other hand, he has also received a lot of support from other gospel artists. All politics set aside, they believe it’s more important that a prominent artist with an enormous reach is relying on gospel traditions to talk passionately about God. Because his new album is gospel with a twist of contemporary rap, he may be able to influence thousands of listeners to follow their spiritual path, like he has. 

“I think it’s good that he’s happy about his new way of life & I like the choir .. overall 6.8/10,” said Derek Thomas, junior criminal justice student. 

Those who follow Kanye indubitably know that since January he has been performing with a group he started: an American gospel-rap group whose service has included different services to support people who have gone through tough times and are looking for someone to guide them and their faith in the right direction. Moreover, performing for those that appeal to the Christian community. 

For most of 2019, Kanye’s Sunday Service has been his passion project. The prominent rapper put on a collection of gospel performances with a choir across the country. The holy sessions have taken place in California, on his newly purchased estate in Wyoming, back home in Chicago, Ohio, and at Coachella on Easter Sunday this year. 

Like previously stated, even his Sunday Service performances have created skepticism among listeners. As the performances continued over months, they drew suspicion and disbelief from many online, who wrote that the exclusive, invitation-only events ran inconsistently to the open idea and communal spirit of church. 

Tobi Oredein, writer in the Premier Christianity magazine, also pointed to the seemingly selfish nature of the events: “He’s employed a choir of people who are not only singing his songs, but are all dressed in his apparel. Is Christ really at the center of this gathering?”

While speaking on Queen Radio in July, Nicki Minaj said that Kanye told her he’s a born-again Christian. 

“I just was with Kanye, and he told me he’s a born-again Christian now,” said Minaj. “Like my first instinct was, ‘I’m so proud of you,’ because I could see there’s a peace that he has now that just surpasses everything.” 

Before the album was released, Chance the Rapper said, “He’s devoted right now. He’s well-versed in the bible at this point. The Sunday Service and the album that comes out next week – I feel like I’m on Kanye’s press run right now. He’s talking about what I believe in, and it’s that Jesus is King. He’s spreading the good news.”

While some are praising him for stepping out of his comfort zone and creating an album completely dissimilar than his others, some are choosing to believe it is all a hoax. What will come of Kanye next? Only time will tell. 

Alexandra D’Eramo can be reached at alexandra.deramo@spartans.ut.edu

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