Jesus Is King

The Religious Epiphany Of Kanye West

Ryan Lewis, Features Writer and Co Editor

“Finally hearing good news from a distant land is like a drink of cold water when you are dry and thirsty”-Proverbs 25:25. The highly anticipated Jesus is King finally hit the shelves this October, after a 13-month delay. A year’s worth of delays, leaks, and a proclamation of religious reacquaintance from West all culminated into an ultra hyped and long-awaited project. We now have this 9th studio release from the West and listening to it for the past month, I can confidently say this is Kanye’s weakest project to date.

The most damaging aspect of the album isn’t the music itself, it was the delays that pushed back the release date. Hearing about Yanhdi only 3 months after Ye dropped was mind-boggling. It is almost unheard of for a recording artist to need so little time to write, record, and release a full album in under a year, let alone a quarter of one. This excitement mixed with leaked tracks stirred up an incredible amount of hype for Yanhdi. The first release date that came and past was to be expected. Kanye always has some sort of trouble with his first final cut. Even the second was excusable, but to go radio silent and then hear that a finished Yanhdi was going to be thrown out feels like a slap in the face to all fans. When news of Jesus is King broke, again I was excited for a new Kanye LP but so much less than I was for Yanhdi. After the first release date that came and went for JIK, I stopped paying attention to any further announcements. I really didn’t care much to hear about the project, and by mere coincidence, I found the album 2 days after it had already been released on Spotify. Still very much a fan of Kanye’s work, just less excited, I immediately downloaded it and set it to repeat.

Conservatively estimating, I listened to the album from the start to finish around 10-15 times. Testing the waters, so to speak, with the first 2 or 3 playthroughs, I felt unimpressed. I was certainly interested and didn’t hate anything in particular, just unenthusiastic about it. Something I rarely feel for a Kanye project of any kind. The subsequent listens though grew on me. With each new experience with the piece, I started appreciating more of the album. At the same time what I truly found unenjoyable I even more so started to dislike. Like a photo being oversaturated, darker moments became darker and vice versa. The only song I will skip entirely is “Closed on Sunday”. While, it is mixed very well, and the guitar and choir sounded excellent, I just can’t get past the chorus. Had this been made in the same vein as “Lift Yourself” and “I Love It” , embracing and acknowledging their jovial and profane lyrics, I may have appreciated it more. To open with a dramatic and subtly suspenseful backing track, only to add a cringy chorus, weak and an unconvincing message is much more annoying than enjoyable. Only then after a perfectly enjoyable intro is wasted does Kanye passionately sing great lyrics overtop a more glitchy and compelling beat. Just before this sudden improvement completely makes up for the corny beginning, A$AP Bari screams at the top of his lungs “ CHIKFILA” before an abrupt ending. Thank you Kanye, very cool.

Another plight of this album is its strange and jarring transitions. Artistically speaking, these types of abrupt endings and beginnings have worked much more favorably in past releases. Jagged transitions were usually followed by a song that still fit the whole aesthetic of the album. This project sonically felt as if Kanye was trying to recreate the feelings of previous albums with gospel lyrics. Even a fade-out would have been less irking than just starting another song.

While I may have a problem with the transitions and “Closed on Sunday” that is not to say that I did not enjoy this project. After the 5th or 6th listen I was replaying the album completely by choice. Much of what I disliked came down to the amount of effort seemingly put into each track. For Kanye to have so many near-perfect albums under his belt Jesus is King comes up short. As a listener, I was left yearning for more, whether it be more songs or more substance within those already on the album. That being said, even if this is Kanye’s weakest project to date, even with the sometimes lazy writing and underdeveloped creative choices, I still enjoyed Jesus is King immensely. While there is no stand out single, there are very well produced well-written tracks that can certainly find a place in any Kanye playlist. Overall I enjoyed it. I rate it a 6.5/10. For Kanye standards, meaning what we know he is capable of, it gets a 3/10. That being said, even the weakest Kanye release is still fully listenable and enjoyable.