After nearly a year of anticipation from fans and multiple missed release dates, Kanye West’s ninth studio album “Jesus is King” has finally arrived. Proclaiming himself as a “recent Christian convert,” the artist’s newest gospel-inspired album steers in a different direction from anything he has released before. Blending elements of Christian gospel with a signature Kanye West style, “Jesus is King” is refreshing and acts as the start of a new unique era for the artist.
Although the final product is alluring and empowering, the leadup to the release of “Jesus is King” was anything but. Coming off the heels of a progressive public breakdown in early 2018, Ye (short for Kanye) relocated to Wyoming to collect himself and work on new music for himself and others. After releasing critically-acclaimed projects with Pusha T (“DAYTONA”), Kid Cudi (“KIDS SEE GHOSTS”), and his own self-titled solo album (“ye”) later that year, Kanye announced his next studio project “Yandhi” would arrive on Sept. 29, 2018. Claiming he needed more time to work on the album, “Yandhi” eventually failed to materialize as many more supposed release dates came and went.
In an attempt to redeem himself from his mistakes a year earlier, Ye began to turn to religion and formed a series of experimental “Sunday Service” concerts that would later become the basis for his latest album. Following a number of “Sunday Service” performances this year, spouse Kim Kardashian posted a tracklist on Twitter for Ye’s new album “Jesus is King” with a scheduled Sept. 27 release date back in late August. Failing to meet this date and many other speculated ones, Ye finally released the album (twelve hours later than he promised) on Oct. 25, along with a 35 minute IMAX film of the same name.
Despite its frustrating rollout and short length (barely reaching 27 minutes), “Jesus is King” delivers on its promises of dynamic and powerful tunes. Focusing mainly on different religious themes and choir-heavy sounds, “Jesus is King” never oversteps its subject matter and appeals to a wide demographic of both religious and non-religious fans (although some might find the switch in subject matter jarring at first). With “Jesus is King,” it’s clear that Ye has found his niche and is joyful in spreading religion to others while still making the music he wants to make.
From the very beginning, the tracks “Every Hour,” “Selah” and “Follow God” start the record strong with beautiful melodic background vocals and compelling bars from the rapper. This trend continues throughout the album with other well-produced and satisfying tracks like “On God,” “Hands On,” “God Is” and notable standout song “Use This Gospel” (reuniting rapping-duo Clipse nearly ten years after their last album). In traditional Kanye fashion though, the album includes its fair share of goofy lyrics on songs like “Closed on Sunday.”
Following its release on Friday many fans took to social media platforms like Twitter to express their displeasure with the album, attacking its length in particular. While some tracks on “Jesus is King” are definitely on the shorter side, the album never feels half-baked like previous projects released by the artist. Every song has a different and natural feel to it, distinguishing the album from its predecessors and other music released this year.
While “Jesus is King” doesn’t necessarily sit at the peak of the artist’s discography, the new project provides a new exciting look at a different and more faith-filled side of Kanye West that fans haven’t seen before. Even fifteen years after the release of his first album “The College Dropout,” Kanye West still continues to redefine himself as a person and innovate the music genre with every album he releases, something which can’t be said about many other modern musicians.