Culture, News

Can Kanye convert atheists into believers with Jesus is King?

By Max Gillette ‘22

After over one year of waiting, on October 25, 2019, Kanye West finally released his ninth solo album, Jesus is King. Was it worth the wait? In short, not at all, but to understand why, we need to start at the beginning. 

On September 29th, 2018, after his appearance on Saturday Night Live, West was set to release a new album titled Yandhi (a play on “Gandhi”). That day came and went with no album. Soon after, Kim Kardashian, West’s wife, posted on Twitter and proclaimed that the album would be released on Black Friday, 2018. Yet again, that day came and went… no album. As it turned out, after all the waiting, news sources concluded that Yandhi was cancelled.

At the end of August 2019, Kim Kardasian, yet again, tweeted a new release date for an album. However, now this album was named “Jesus is King,” and was set to release on September 27th, 2019. This album was described as a complete turnaround, because it would be missing West’s signature profanity and absurdity. The difference between this album and any of West’s others, we were told, was that Jesus is King would be a gospel album. 

West has dabbled in gospel before, describing his seventh solo album, The Life of Pablo, as a “gospel album with a whole lot of cursing on it,” but Jesus is King is on a completely different level. This time, West said, there would be no profanity or negative messages. After hearing this, I, along with many of my friends and those online, began to question if this was the right direction for West to head in with his music. Before anyone could make this decision, however, we had to hear the album. 

On Friday, September 27th — the night of its planned release — West hosted a listening party in Detroit, and to many people’s surprise, those who attended really enjoyed the album. Unfortunately the night of September 27th came and went, and Jesus is King did not release. This marked the third time that West didn’t release his album since announcing it last year. 

So Kim Kardashian’s promise that the album would be released after the New York City listening party on Sunday, the third listening party of the weekend, was taken with a grain of salt. And just as many suspected, the album didn’t release that Sunday because West still wasn’t happy with the mixing on some of the songs. The final given release date was October 25th, 2019, which was the same day that the Jesus is King IMAX film — a high-quality filming of one of West’s gospel performances dubbed “Sunday Services” — actually was released.

Finally, on October 25th, the album was released to mixed reviews. Currently, the album stands at a mediocre 55/100 on Metacritic. On Twitter, many have stated that while Jesus is King isn’t necessarily a bad album, it most definitely was not worth the wait and hype that it got. Many were simply upset that the promise of Yandhi, the successor to West’s 2013 release Yeezus, was scrapped, while others thought that the album, even with all of the delays and edits, sounded unfinished. There were people who liked this album, but a lot of them admitted that, after that long of a wait, they were just happy to get any new West music.

West has also announced that he will be dropping a Sunday Service album titled Jesus is Born on December 25th, 2019. You can expect a review on that by 2021.

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