I laughed. I cried. I worshipped.
That’s my response to “Jesus is King” – the Gospel album that Kanye West released last week. After listening to previews of each song, we bought the album last Saturday and listened to it as a family. And we enjoyed it. The album is funny, serious, honest, heartfelt, and artful. Most of all, “Jesus is King” is worshipful. Over and over again, Kanye expresses his belief that Jesus is King of Kings and Lord of Lords.
I have been a critic of Kayne since the first time I heard Gold Digger. The tone of the song and his flippant use of a particular word set me off. The music that followed in the years to come was profanity-laced and depraved. I didn’t like Kanye and knew he needed Christ, but I never prayed for him. The things Kanye said made me think he was crazy, but did I turn and pray for him? No, I just wrote him off. Back then, I never dreamed I would own a Kanye album, much less, that I would be so encouraged by one.
Kanye knew how to sin boldly. Now as a believer, Kanye is just as bold – a bold worshipper. “Jesus is King” is a bold profession of faith.
We’ve all heard celebrities “God Talk” before … usually after receiving an award for a song or video that doesn’t honor God. They usually speak of God in vague generalities. Rarely do they proclaim that “Jesus is King.” Kanye doesn’t go soft. Nothing timid here. This is no gimmick. His life has been changed. This is what redemption looks like. Kanye will struggle in the coming day just like me and just like you. But that is what redemption looks like. I am rooting for Kanye West, not because he is famous, because he is a fellow believer. And you should too.
The album is short and more confessional than theological. Throughout the album, Kanye recycles – no redeems – previous hooks and beats. This time around, those hooks and beats are focused on proclaiming who God is and what He has done for Kanye. By taking pieces of what was old and making them new, the album mirrors the redemption taking place in Kanye’s life.
The tracks that made me laugh
- “Closed on Sunday” – “Closed on Sunday / you’re my Chick-fil-A / my number one with a lemonade”
- “Use this Gospel” – “Who am I to judge / I’m crooked as Vegas”
- “Everything We Need” – “What if Eve made apple juice? / You gon’ do what Adam do? / Or say, “Baby, let’s put this back on the tree”
The track that made me cry
- “God Is” – This is straight-up worship (with one mild curse word). Kanye worships God for salvation and freedom from his old life, for his family, and for daily strength and purpose. I need to worship like this on a daily basis.
The track that made me worship
- “Selah” – “to whom the Son set free is free indeed / He saved a wretch like me”
- “God Is” – “Worship Christ with the best of your portion,” “King of Kings / Lord of Lords / All the things He has in store / From the rich to the poor / All are welcome through the door,” and “I know Christ is the fountain that filled up my cup.”
- “Water” – “Let Your light reflect on me / I promise I’m not hiding anything.”
- “Jesus is Lord” – “Every knee shall bow / Every tongue confess. Jesus is Lord”
The track that made me think
- “Hands On” – Kanye takes on racial profiling and mass incarnation. He is also very confessional, “Told the devil I’m going on strike / I’ve been working for you my whole life.” Kanye also wonders how Christians will receive news of his new-found faith and this album.
- “Follow God” – My favorite. Kayne breaks out his skills on this one. He samples the Gospel song “Can You Lose by Following God” by Whole Truth and raps.
- “God is” – Best all-around track.
- “Water” – Great sound, great proclamations about Jesus.
- “Closed on Sunday” – The song has a corny metaphor, but it has a great message about family and committing everything to Christ.
Surprises and Questions
- The whole thing is surprising.
- Kanye introduced me to “Can You Lose by Following God”
- Kenny G plays on one track. What???
- Who is Ant Clemons? That dude can sing.
- When will we get the next Kanye Gospel album?