By Bailey Riley
Kanye West has been rapping and producing for most of his life and since the release of ‘The College Dropout’ in 2004 up until 2016, he was known for being at the forefront of hip-hop and its ever developing sound and popularity. But since 2016’s ‘The Life Of Pablo’, Kanye has seemingly taken a tumble into a place where he has no set creative vision, creating incomplete albums that are still being updated months after their release. This lack of stable vision has culminated in Kanye’s most unfinished sounding album that fails to offer anything unique, but instead banks on listeners being swayed over by Kanye’s simplistic attempts to preach the message of God.
‘Jesus Is King’ is described as a gospel album by Kanye, and you could be easily fooled into believing this if you only listened to the records opening track, ‘Every Hour’, which features Kanye’s Sunday Service Choir declaring their love for God in a manner that is reminiscent of 90s gospel records. But this track is ill fit for an opener, as it gives almost no context to what Kanye himself thinks of God and faith. This exact question is never answered throughout the album, instead we are subjected to Kanye using his faith as a thinly veiled justification for how he acts in life. He even uses God to justify how high he prices his merch on the track, ‘On God’, stating that “The IRS want they fifty plus our tithe…That’s why I charge the prices that I charge…No, I cannot let my family starve”. Moments like this are found throughout the album, where Kanye uses his faith to justify his actions.
While only being 27 minutes long Jesus Is King still finds a way to overstay its welcome, with tracks like Water and Hands On bringing the album to a standstill at the point where we should be hearing something exciting to keep us listening. The only interesting track on the back end of the album is Use This Gospel, a spiritually powerful track about finding god and the power that this faith has given both Kanye and Clipse and ends with a beautiful saxophone solo from Kenny G, tying the track up nicely. The arguably best track on the album is the short yet strong, Follow God, which is the most rap sounding song on the whole album but doesn’t even reach 2 minutes in length. Kanye delivers 16 bars over production that feels like it came from an early Jay-z album, and the track itself would probably benefit from a Jay feature to actually give it some length.
While the production on most tracks is strong enough to make up for some misses, the lyrics are usually so poorly written that no matter how good a track sounds it falters just before it can reach brilliance and this is true for album overall as well. Jesus Is King is an album full of brilliant ideas hidden behind subpar lyrics and a misused gospel concept. This record seems to indicate a change in Kanye and the way he handles album creation, it will be interesting to see how he comes back from the low point in his career that is this album.