Kanye West’s new album marks musical shift

By Charlie Gstalder and Gus Nations IV | Staff Writers

While an extremely solid album conceptually, many of the songs on Jesus is King are very short, which creates a rushed feeling. Kanye seems to have wanted to get his message across as quickly as possible and spends a lot of time convincing people he has reformed. Despite this, nearly every song has amazing production and feels rich and lively. Heavy bass and synths contribute to the album’s upbeat attitude, which countered the rushed feel of the songs.

Some individual highlights of the album include “Follow God,” which totes a sample from Whole Truth’s “Can you lose by following God.” The song boasts solid lyrics and a top-notch production, and the only downside is that it is a mere 1:45 seconds long. Another notable track is “On God,” a fitting name for what is in my opinion the best song on the album. It holds true to the point of Kanye’s album and spreads his message in a way that is easy to follow.

In terms of achieving his goal of spreading the message of the Gospel, Kanye does a decent job. While I think everyone deserves a chance to change their ways, skeptics may have a point when they say it’s a marketing strategy designed to catapult him further into the spotlight. That is definitely not something out of the realm of possibility for an artist known for being a little “out there.”

Additionally, Kanye released a movie highlighting his Sunday services and explaining what his faith has meant to him recently. The Jesus is King Imax experience was interesting. It was 30 minutes of imagery taken from James Turrell’s Roden Crater Art Installation in the Arizona Desert, plus some songs from the album. It was underwhelming, with the most fun part being the commentary regarding the previews. Was it worth the $20? No. But I don’t regret going, because when Kanye West makes a movie, you might as well check it out.

The more important aspect of the album for me, however, was not the music itself. Instead, the album bridged a gap between the rap culture and faith culture. So often I have felt that the often negatively stereotyped rap culture cannot possibly coexist with any sort of religious system. For an artist as famous as Kanye West to be even making an effort to raise awareness of the Christian faith and God proves that both can exist simultaneously.

I think what happens next for Kanye is going to be what decides whether Jesus is King is a truly great album. If this new, religious Kanye continues, I think the album will age as a masterpiece of Gospel rap and open the door for a new, more symphonic style of rap. However, it is possible that the album will be overlooked and chalked up to the increasingly outlandish actions of a misguided superstar. Secularly, this is a good album, and I am looking forward to following the evolution of both the album and the artist.