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Music Review: The resurrection of Yeezus

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Joey Matsuzawa
Sports Editor

A chaotic 2018 saw rapper Kanye West once again fall from grace, but West now returns to his gospel-roots with his new project: “JESUS IS KING.”

It was well over a year ago when rapper Kanye West teased fans with snippets from his next album titled “Yandhi,” promising a Sept. 27, 2018, release date, but fans had to wait much longer than they expected.

A tumultuous 2018 saw West alienate fans after his public embrace of President Donald Trump, constantly demonstrating his lack of political understanding with each interview. 

Still, West remained determined to finish the album, enlisting the help of his recently formed Sunday Service Choir. 

The Choir became integral to West’s musical direction, performing gospel renditions of all the Kanye hits alongside West at various events. 

After a long year of failed promises and missed deadlines, West finally made good on his word releasing “JESUS IS KING” on Oct. 15.

Throughout the many ups and downs of West’s career, his constant struggle between vanity and humanity has been ever-present. “JESUS IS KING” is no exception.

The album follows the compact trend of West’s newer projects, with a short 11-song tracklist.

But even though the album is short for a hip-hop album, it still feels rather rushed, with some songs sounding unfinished. 

And while West has always been a very tongue-in-cheek rapper, some of his lyrics come off as cheesy or lazy.

However, the highlights from “JESUS IS KING” provide some of the best musical moments in West’s discography. 

“Selah” puts the gospel choir front and center, chanting without abandon as a dramatic instrumental builds to a fever-pitch. “Follow God” shows listeners that “the old Kanye” is still alive and well, as he raps about his reconciliation and newfound relationship with his father.

The track “On God” features a psychedelic, Pierre Bourne produced instrumental that is sure to send listeners on trip, all while West delivers bar after bar of Bible verses. 

One of the last tracks on the album, “Use This Gospel,” features an epic vocal blend over an open-car-door sample and rewards listeners with the reunion of sibling rap duo Clipse, particularly with No Malice’s verse that mirrors West’s own Christian rebirth.

And it would be disrespectful to not mention the heavenly Kenny G saxophone solo that closes out the track. 

West’s production on “JESUS IS KING” is airtight, as we have come to expect from the producer turned rapper, with the vocal mixing on the project reminiscent of West’s earlier albums like “Yeezus” and even “808s and Heartbreak”

As for the themes of the album, while the reborn-again Christian in Christian Dior has firmly stated that “JESUS IS KING” is a gospel album and that he will only make secular music from this point on, calling it a gospel album would be a stretch, as the album more so represents West’s own personal struggles with his faith. 

While “JESUS IS KING” may not be the strongest of West’s nine studio albums, it definitely leaves a lasting impression, leaving the listener to contemplate their own faith.

Joey Matsuzawa can be reached at joe.matsuzawa@laverne.edu.

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