By Ellie Riser
Since the albums “Ye” and “KIDS SEE GHOSTS”, Kanye West has been focusing on *other* things than music to say the least, but after a long wait, Kanye released “JESUS IS KING”.
This new album strays away from crude or explicit language that can be found in West’s past works, however the prominence of his hip hop past still shines brightly in this new religiously focused project. I think it’s important to hear this album because from a cultural standpoint, you will most likely never hear another rapper as prominent as Kanye West make this kind of transition in music. If I really wanted to I could compare Kanye’s recent evolution to Tyler The Creator’s, but for your sake, I will not. Not to mention, this album is controversial from all angles, but today I am just going to give you my personal opinion of each song from the most raw musical perspective I can.
1. Every Hour
Now, I’m no Christian, but if I were, I would not mind hearing this in church every Sunday. If you’ve listened to the album “The Life Of Pablo” you’re already aware of West’s ability to weave gospel choir into his music in a really refreshing and beautiful way, so having this be the opening song to an album so centrally focused on church and gospel itself makes sense. The song is very bright and joyous, the vocals are crisp and the piano is perfect accompaniment. It’s very high energy and the exceptional quality makes you feel as though you’re right there at Sunday service. I think this was the perfect introduction to the album.
This song is not my favorite considering it is much more preachy and intense. I can certainly appreciate the power of the song and the build throughout, however I can’t say it sounds like a totally new take both in how it sounds on it’s own and how the content is being delivered in such an aggressive tone. I think it’s a great contrast to the previous song, but carries too much pressure within the lyrics and overall beat for me.
3. Follow God
I think this was clearly bound to be the fan favorite off of the album because it leans closest to the old Kanye and feels less biblical. The beat itself is very choppy and clean, with a signature sample introduced at the entry of the song cut up throughout.
4. Closed On Sunday
Yes, this is the Chick-fil-a one. I feel like it was almost a fat slap, but bringing the lyrics to Chick-fil-a just didn’t hit quite right with me. I think this song touches on his recent turn to controversy as well as he brings up raising his sons and daughters right and while I can appreciate his love for his children, I can’t help but notice the tones of heavy self-restraint and overbearing parent vibes in the lyrics and overall ambiance of the song.
5. On God
This song is pretty playful in comparison to others on the album. The sharp synth almost reminds me of an 80’s video game in a way, and I think that those sounds might be what make me see it as playful. The title is also trying to reach to the current slang thrown around, so you can see West is trying his best to grab the attention of a large audience with this album and working hard to make the religious prospect look more appealing to a younger generation.
6. Everything We Need
I find it really interesting to hear an artist such as Ty Dolla $ign’s voice being used in a gospel manner. I find this song really smooth and attractive to many audiences. The R&B tones from Ty help smooth out Kanye’s rapping and make the whole song melt together. I really enjoy this song but wished it wasn’t so short.
I know I said in the beginning that I wouldn’t make a comparison between Kanye and Tyler but this beat does give me heavy “EARFQUAKE” vibes. I swear. Moving on, this song along with “Everything We Need” and “God Is” gives a nice smooth break from the previous five songs, and all three have a very alluring fluid sound. Until he said “Jesus” 16 times in the second verse I was really digging it. Overall very I think it’s a very nice, but pretty mild track.
8. God Is
Kanye is a sample master. This song is truly a beautiful composition of all of Kanye’s talents, productionally speaking. I also really like when rappers use their singing voice, especially when it’s not that amazing, I think it can be a really cool way to show more variability in a song. I find that the rawness that many rappers have in their singing voice really powerful, and when used right, it can make a song very charming.
9. Hands On
I really like how this track rolls out of the previous. I think that this song is really cool sounding. Not like “oh cool” but like temperature wise. This song sounds like the color of a frozen lake. I don’t really know how to explain it, but I really like how the background vocals sound trapped and muted.
10. Use This Gospel
How I felt by the time I got to this song on my first listen was like “ok”. I feel like Kanye didn’t want this song to be as removable from the album as some of the others. For me I feel that this song was a little dry, that said, I did really enjoy Kenny G’s sax solo.
11. Jesus Is Lord
I mean, fair. I can’t say this really left me with a lasting impression but I think it was a nice way to wrap up the album.
Thank you for reading.