First Impressions of Kanye West’s ‘Jesus Is King’ – by Dustin Brewer

After months (and about 12 hours) of delays, Kanye West finally dropped the highly anticipated; ‘Jesus Is King.’ Dustin goes track by track with his thoughts on the sure to be polarizing album.

Photo Illustration by Dustin Brewer

Before we jump into the album, let’s take a look at a few of the things that led us to this moment:

Last year, Kanye announced that Yahndi was coming and would be released.

Yahndi was not released. It was rumored to be renamed ‘Jesus Is King’ and a full gospel album but that was about all we heard.

In September, Kanye’s wife, Kim Kardashian, sent the music world into a frenzy when she posted what looked like a tracklist for ‘Jesus Is King’ on her Instagram Story. She declared the album was coming at the end of the month and fans should be prepared for greatness.

Hype was built up only to be shattered by September coming and going with no release.

Last week Kanye tweeted the following:

Fans were excited that a release date had essentially been confirmed straight from the source and anticipation began to build once again.

Then when 12am/9pm hit, there was nothing. The disappointment was palpable. Fans couldn’t believe they’d bought into the hype again just to have their hopes dashed.

Finally, about 12 hours later than promised, Kanye finally delivered and ‘Jesus Is King’ hit all streaming platforms. The reception has been mixed to say the least with Kanye, various songs and specific bars trending online almost nonstop since the album’s released.

Lastly, Kanye West is a tough artist to have an opinion on. For however good the music is, there are always weird things that he does to almost undermine everything. Just this week in the run-up to the album’s release he’s:

  • Declared that he was going to be President
  • Said that liking Donald Trump is “God’s practical joke on liberals”
  • Admitted he wouldn’t let his daughter wear crop-tops or make-up now that he’s a Christian
  •  Told everyone collaborating on the album with him that they weren’t allowed to have premarital sex while working on said album.

Wild right? Even crazier: THAT WAS ALL IN ONE INTERVIEW!

It’s impossible to imagine that fans can split Kanye’s music persona and his celebrity one completely and be totally subjective when it comes to the music but that’s what we’re going to attempt to do.

‘Jesus Is King’ – Kanye West

  1. Every Hour – Kanye was not messing around when he said he was a dropping a gospel album. Kanye’s Sunday Service has become a must-see event for those able to attend and here he opens the album with his Sunday Service Choir repeating the refrain over sparse keys.
  2. Selah – “I ain’t mean I’m just focused.”- I’m using that for sure. After a couple typical bars from Kanye, he begins shouting Bible Verses over rapid drum strikes before the Choir takes over with chants of “Hallelujah.” It’s only Track 2 but I’m already under the impression that this would be much better to just experience live at one of his Sunday Service performances.
  3. Follow God – No matter what you think about the man, the music always delivers. This beat is vintage Kanye. So far this is easily the best song.
  4. Closed On Sunday – “Closed On Sunday, You’re my Chick Fil-A. You’re my #1 with the Lemonade.” The rest of the song seems to be a metaphor about protecting his family and making sure that he stays true to himself and his beliefs, but I can’t get past him comparing the Church & Kim Kardashian to Chick Fil-A. Also I think he just screamed “Chick Fil-A!” as the song ended.
  5. On God – Again, another funky beat but he’s just a little off base with some of the bars. The thing that takes me out of it is right near the end, he says:

“That’s why I charge the prices that I charge. I gotta make sure my family doesn’t starve.”

Kanye West – “On God”

I’m all for the hustle and grind and doing whatever you have to do to provide for your family, but this is ridiculous. Kanye is married into the Kardashian family, a family so famous that they’re all basically on first-name basis with the world. His wife is a multi-millionaire, his sister-in-law is a self-made billionaire (with a B) with a make-up dynasty and even before he started Yeezy and entered his partnership with Adidas, he’s ******* Kanye West. If he never did anything again and simply disappeared, no one he knows would ever have to work a day in their lives ever. Now, this may sound a lot like sour grapes and jealousy but it’s more I just don’t have time for him to front. I’ll buy the $220 Yeezy Boosts, the $340 Construction Parka or the $760 Workwear Jumpsuit but don’t tell me you’re charging me half of my month’s rent because you’re scraping by.

  • Everything We Need – “What if Eve made Apple Juice, you gonna do what Adam do? Or say ‘Baby let’s put this back on the Tree, cause He already gave us everything we need.’” I think I have an idea of what he’s trying to get at but I’m confident there’s 100 different ways he could’ve gotten the point across more clearly.
  • Water – Ant Clemons on the hook is beautiful, when he’s joined by the Sunday Service Choir I got legit chills. This is an instance where Kanye should’ve just sat this one out and used the track as an interlude and spotlight.
  • God Is – It’s not often Kanye just flat out sings. ‘808’s & Heartbreak’ comes to mind but that was all auto-tuned. He may not be the best singer but the passion and sincerity in his voice here help lift the song to one of the standouts on the album.
  • Hands On – I need a music video where it’s just Kanye throwing hands with the Devil based on the lyrics in this song. The message here is muddled as well though with lyrics about overcoming the Devil right alongside lyrics like “They’ll (Christians) be the first ones to judge me, make it seem like nobody love me.” I’m not sure if he’s trying to speak on the delicate balance that finding/maintaining his Faith has been, but I can’t help but feel like again, it could’ve been clearer.
  • Use This Gospel – The beginning sounds exactly like the start of Hoobastank’s ‘The Reason.’ I’ll never unhear it. I was beginning to think this song was going to be more of the same and then Clipse came in throwing absolute heat in their verses. I was stoked for sure. Then Kenny G came in with a smooth sax solo and my head exploded.
  • Jesus Is Lord – A quick outro, the album ends with Kanye saying “Jesus Is Lord” over resounding trumpets.

A Few Quick Thoughts Before We Go-

  • At 27 minutes long, this feels less like an album and more like a warm-up.
  • I can see why it’s so polarizing though. With all the rising hype and expectations, fans were counting on this album being the equivalent of Kanye taking us to Church. Instead, it comes off as Kanye telling us all to take him at his word that his Church is great.
  • In that same wild interview, I mentioned before, Kanye also said ‘Jesus Is Born’ will drop on Christmas Day. Given his record for keeping deadlines, we’ll see about that one.
  • Kanye said he was going to deliver a gospel album and he certainly did not disappoint on that front. But it’s extremely hard for me to take him completely seriously. His Sunday Service performances are an extremely hot ticket, was a part of Coachella weekend where he sold crazy limited merch and he’s currently selling $170 ‘Jesus Is King’ hoodies on his website. It all feels a bit conflicting and contradictory about what his album seems to be to me.

In Conclusion-

It may have been 12-hours late, but Kanye West finally delivered ‘Jesus Is King.’ The best song is absolutely “Use This Gospel” and the rest is an extremely interesting listen. It’s full of the top tier production that fans would expect from a Kanye album but lyrically it’s all over the place and full of contradictions.

Kanye fans will surely listen but it’s unlikely that ‘Jesus Is King’ will find them feeling saved.

Dustin Brewer is a freelance writer and co-editor at HefferBrew. Follow him on Twitter and stay tuned to HefferBrew for the latest entertainment and music news.

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