The New Kanye


Alaina Haylock

Kanye West’s new album offers a switch in his original content to talk about God and his newfound faith (Photo credits to Alaina Haylock)

October 25, 2019 marked a special day for music fans, especially Kanye West fans. West released his album “Jesus is Lord,” which was a notable switch in his usually creative content. Not only did it include no cursing, but West described the purpose of the album as “an expression of the gospel and to share the gospel and the truth of what Jesus has done [for him].” 

The self-proclaimed gospel album was a complete 180 degree turn from what fans expected. Before its release, West held many church services called Sunday Services–which he applied to trademark— in locations ranging from Calabasas to the Adidas Headquarters. The Sunday Services featured a choir and attracted tons of celebrities such as Idris Elba, Brad Pitt, and Busy Phillips. 

“Some of the ways [Kanye] presented the album was overkill. He’s preaching now and I don’t agree with that, but I do think he believes it. I feel like most preachers go to school, and I don’t have a problem with him talking about his faith, but I feel like if he’s going to present that to people he’s going to need more background,” said junior Laney McKinney.

Kanye West’s history has been successful but clouded with grey every so often. He’s made controversial comments like calling slavery “a choice.” Along with that, he publicly endorsed Trump when he was first in office, calling to abolish the 13th amendment that ended slavery in America. He later clarified that he wanted to modify the amendment to include prison labor as well. Around the same time, West’s mental health had been in question. Despite being diagnosed with bipolar disorder, he claimed he was sleep deprived instead. Additionally, he struggled with an opiod addiction after liposuction surgery in 2017. 

“I think obviously there’s always going to be backlash anytime something is done in regards to religion since it can be such a controversial topic and [Kanye is] controversial. Not everyone agrees with him on everything or supports him, so when you talk about faith in such a way, you’re going to receive backlash. But I think it’s also accepted because as a Christian I love that someone is putting that out there, especially someone who wouldn’t normally do that,” added McKinney. 

The album has caused a shift in his public image since it’s a radical change in terms of genre. “Jesus is King” is an eleven track album, approximately half an hour in length. The album features artists including, Ty Dolla $ign, Kenny G, Ant Clemons, and Fred Hammond. Songs like “Water” and “Every Hour” follow traditional gospel songs while “On God” and “Follow God” appear more similar to his original style because he raps on those two tracks. 

“I found it interesting that he used a southern gospel style for some of the songs instead of usual rap. It definitely added some variety,” said junior Abby McDonald.

With this album, Kanye West hoped to convert non-believers to followers of Christ. The theme of the album covers elements of Christianity like baptism in “Water” and the doctrine of the Sabbath day in “Closed on Sunday.” West encourages self-reflections of believers along with motivation to keep living for God.

“I definitely can’t tell for sure whether Kanye is truly saved just based on one album. But, he seems to know what he’s talking about. I think a lot of people are curious to see whether his conversion is authentic. Christianity doesn’t always get the greatest publicity from celebrities, so when Kanye West suddenly proclaimed it, it catches [everyone’s] attention,” added McDonald.

Given his comments and actions, the album wasn’t greeted without backlash. Many people question if his actions are truly genuine or if West has a hidden motive. Some Christians don’t consider the album to be a Christian record, considering he’s a new believer and his motives might be flawed. On the flip side, other followers are simply excited that West is shedding light on the religion and bringing others to Christ.

“I think some people are skeptical of his faith, especially since there are a lot of Hollywood celebrities who claim to be Christians but live in ways which completely contradict Christianity and the Bible. I think supporters are excited to see the apparent depth of his conversion and the sudden turn of his work from secularism to Chrisitanity,” added McDonald.

Despite whether Kanye West’s shift in terms of religious views remain permanent, Christians can benefit from the spotlight received. It can be used to bring others to Christ and popularize Christian music. Overall, the good can outweigh the bad; it ultimately depends on perspective. A Bible verse can be applied to the situation with Kanye West; in 1 Corinthians 5:17, it says, “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creation: old things are passed away; behold, all things have become new.”