Yeezus Is “King”

Lauren McDermott, Contributing Writer

Rapper Kanye West recently dropped his new album, “Jesus Is King,” after much anticipation. This is his first gospel album, and West — who in the past has referred to himself as “Yeezus”— spends much of the record praising the real Jesus. The release of the album shocked fans who were expecting something more typical of West, but with the popularity of his Sunday Services, perhaps this new album is reflective of his recent behavior. This album, his ninth solo effort since 2004, is also the latest entry in a public diary West has been writing for the last 15 years. During this period of tumult and change within his life, the only constant has been his inconsistency. In particular, his relationship with Christianity has constantly shifted, transforming to the all-righteous perspective he has recently arrived at.

Kanye has almost always utilized linear development through the tracks on his albums. This means that each successive track on an album carries with it the context and consequences of the previous tracks. This has been critically used in his more narrative albums: “The College Dropout,” “Graduation,” “My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy,” “Yeezus,” “The Life of Pablo,” “ye” and “Jesus Is King.” 

“Jesus Is King” relies on a 5-1-5 structure, with the middle song, “Everything We Need,” serving as a pivot point. In the front half, Kanye wants to live a life in the service of Christ but his efforts are still complicated by ego and fear. Those hurdles vanish after the epiphany that is “Everything We Need.” With his path clarified, the back half of Jesus Is King sees West praise, repent and serve.

Some of the most meaningful songs of the album are analyzed below:

“Every Hour” features the Sunday Service Choir. The track instructs that one needs to “Sing ‘til the power of the Lord comes down,” expressing that the power of the Lord is not fully present in the life of the character. This is shown through: “Sing every hour/Every minute/Every second/Sing each and every millisecond.” 

In scripture, “Selah” is a word found in the Psalms — his son’s name. While “Every Hour” introduced the need of the story, “Selah,” through Kanye’s two verses, introduces the character. A man who is clearly religious but still aggressive and self-serving. He defends screaming at his chauffeur. He is concerned with his own freedom. He acknowledges friends have betrayed him, that he even stabbed himself in the back. He views himself as part of the army of God.“Selah” is Kanye reflecting on the state of the world and his place in it. 

“Follow God” gives a more specific profile on Kanye’s behavior . . . Kanye admits he is wrestling with God. Because of that, he describes his life as being “lifelike.” Meaning it feels false rather than real. There’s something missing.

“Closed on Sunday, you’re my Chick-fil-A/You’re my number one, with the lemonade.” Yes, this is a line about Chick-fil-A, but also Kanye presenting himself as not properly practicing Christianity.

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