By Eileen Flaherty, Student Life Division Head. Photo found here.
Two weeks ago, Kanye West released his long-awaited gospel album, Jesus Is King. When the controversial rapper, who has regarded himself as “Yeezus” announced that he was releasing a gospel album, people in the music industry became polarized. Why on earth would Kanye West release a gospel album? What would happen to all of his old music? These are questions that have somewhat been answered, and the media’s response to them is both negative and positive.
Kanye had been talking about this album for a while, even delaying it a few times, until perfecting it, releasing it on October 25, 2019. Now, it is no lie that Kanye is one of the most contentious public figures in the music industry, and people started to comment on his controversies even more when he announced that he was releasing a gospel album.
Despite the controversy, Kanye has been getting the attention and recognition of many famous Christians. One of the people responding to Ye is Joel Osteen– arguably the most famous pastor in America. According to TMZ, Osteen invited Kanye to “take a trip to Houston and experience his megachurch, Lakewood, where 45,000 people show up to pray every week” (TMZ). 45,000 people is a lot in one building, but Osteen’s following is so strong that his Sunday Service reaches “100 MILLION homes in America and tens of millions more around the world” (TMZ). Kanye is already known all around the globe, but, if he would perform at Lakewood, he would reach a whole different audience.
Although Kanye may be gaining praise from religious figures, there are many people who are responding negatively to his album. It seems like one of the biggest complaints people have about Jesus Is King is that this is Ye’s least creative album. One article believed this so strongly that they titled their Op-Ed “Kanye West Even Bores God with the Passionless Jesus is King.” Essentially, this article criticises Kanye’s lyrics saying that the album is “Twenty-seven minutes of cliches, half-finished thoughts, and vaguely religious gesturing.”
There seems to be more praise than criticism of Ye’s lyrical masterpiece. His album has affected many people; at his Sunday Service in Baton Rouge on Nov 3, over 1,000 people committed their lives to Christ. This proves that what he is doing is working from a Christian perspective. Ye took the gospel and interpreted it in his style. It clearly is moving people to Christ.
It is also important to note that Kanye’s public declaration of his faith is impacting lots of famous influencers. A few days after the album’s release, Ye and his Sunday Service choir appeared on The Late Late Show with James Corden with their take on Corden’s popular segment “Carpool Karaoke.” Since there were so many people, Corden hopped on a quick flight for a segment of “Airpool Karaoke” on the Sunday Services’ plane and discussed Jesus Is King with Ye himself. It was very eye-opening to watch a 20 minute long video where people are openly discussing faith. Yes, freedom of religion is a right in America, but it’s not everyday that you see somebody like James Corden passionately discuss faith with Kanye West.
If you want to learn more about Kanye’s spiritual journey, you can watch the “Airpool Karaoke” here.
Despite Kanye’s past controversies, it is clear that he is working on bettering himself through this album. He is a changed man, and that is crystal clear in Jesus Is King, recent interviews, and his Sunday Services. Supporters of Kanye are proud of him and think that what he is doing is powerful and has and will continue to impact lots of people.