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Kanye West resurrects past influences on ninth record Jesus is King

Joel C. Bautista | The TickerKanye West has released nine studio albums since 2004 and three collaborative albums with Jay-Z and Kid Cudi reaching the number one spot on Billboard seven times.

There are very few artists with a discography like Kanye West’s. From his debut, The College Dropout, to his latest project, Jesus is King, West has managed to keep himself relevant for almost two decades. 

Jesus Is King is a great example of how West expresses himself not only as a person, but an artist. This year, West has been hosting his Sunday service, in which he produces beats for those in attendance in the name of God. 

From this, it was safe to assume that his next project would have a heavy gospel influence. 

Jesus Is King has received mixed reactions, however at its core, this album manages to be a true West album.

Before West announced Jesus Is King, the rapper had a different working title for his ninth studio album, Yandhi

After multiple delayed release dates, West ultimately scrapped it in favor of Jesus is King and sometime after, a leak of Yandhi surfaced on the web. 

The two albums share similarities in beats and production, however they are both their own entities. Jesus Is King explores West’s new revived faith. At one point in it, West even refers to the scrapped album in the song “Selah.” 

West’s gospel influence can be traced all the way back to his debut album. Throughout the years, West has been experimenting with gospel sounds, however, this album embraces all those influences. From the first seconds of the first track, “Every Hour,” listeners know what they are in store for.

The album revolves around the theme of faith and entails a cohesive track list for a very easy listen. It’s only 27 minutes long, but each track has something unique to offer, only intensified by West’s grand production. 

“Every Hour” has amazing vocal harmonies that sound very large and sets the stage for the rest of the album. Another highlight of the album is “Follow God,” which contains the old school West bars fans have asked for.

The album manages to bring out all of West’s talents from his production, his rapping but also his singing. 

On the track “God Is,” West sings about his faith and what it means to him as a person. This new direction of West’s music may seem somewhat odd due to his controversial history in the public eye. 

West has made headlines recently for his controversial comments about slavery, as well as his view on politics.

 Even in his music, West has called himself a “God” and portrayed himself as Jesus Christ on the cover of Rolling Stone. Because of this, some suggested West is using the church for his own personal gain and to better his image in the public. 

However, to give West the benefit of the doubt, it’s not new for an artist to use religion as a source of inspiration. 

In an appearance on Jimmy Kimmel Live!, West spoke about how artists in the past have used Christ as the source of their artistic expression. 

In the 2010’s, his albums were more of an insight into his mind rather than revolving around set themes, however in Jesus is King, his thoughts and the theme of the album overlap resulting in an album that has a solid basis for being very true to oneself. 

West may come off as a bit preachy at times in Jesus is King, however, one should not listen to this album to try to connect to the artistry being portrayed. Instead it should simply be approached as a piece of art.

Themes aside, the album offers so much to listeners. The tracks are very layered and West uses a lot of more organic sounds than electronic beats. 

The album makes great use of the unique samples which West has become known for. It seems that West has found a new purpose in life and is letting the whole world know. As an artist, West is constantly evolving and changing. 

Even if you don’t understand why West decided to change to this musical direction, it’s going to be fascinating to see the ripple effect it has on the hip-hop community. Even though most initial reactions for the album have been very mixed, a lot of West fans seem to enjoy the new project. 

West’s influence goes far and whenever he decides to release a new album, the entire rap community pauses just to examine what new sounds West has been working on.

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