Kanye West releases his first truly mediocre album. Following an iconic run of entertaining hits, the Chicago native rests his weary head. He is survived by his four children and famous wife. Currently, as I prepare to listen to Jesus is King one last time, a simple question enters my mind. Why? As in, why couldn’t this be better? Why have all his albums since Yeezus been rushed? Why does God feel like a prop on this record? I grew up Christian. Gospel music was a way of life. The main reason I no longer listen to it is that I like to be entertained by my music. Also, I like to be irreverent to my music. There are plenty of gospel songs I enjoy, though I leave them on the back-burner as a pleasant surprise. When I hear a nostalgic one it brightens my day. But I digress.
This is not a gospel album. It is a Christian rap album. Kanye’s lack of awareness baffles me at times. He wonders why people judge him so harshly. Yet he fails to acknowledge how hard it is to respect consistent contradiction. Here he silences his own choir, limiting them to three appearances. Jesus Himself did not spread the gospel alone. Therefore, neither can his “humble servant” Kanye West. Without the Sunday Service Choir, this album would not exist. Additionally, what West fills the gaps with here sound utterly underdeveloped. Like, bro. . . How could you give a half-ass job for God? Lines like “Closed on Sunday, you’re my Chick-Fil-A / You’re my number one, with the lemonade” sicken my stomach. Across these 11 tracks, ‘Ye indeed praises the Lord — on his time, however. Lowercase h. He attempts to justify merch prices on “On God” as if the Kardashians…
Y’know what? I’ma let that one go. Because I actually like that song. Pi’erre Bourne’s arcade-style instrumental puts me in a great mood. Similarly, Ty Dolla $ign’s hook on “Everything We Need” is beautiful. Despite clocking in at a mere 117 seconds, it’s my favorite of the bunch. Nevertheless, like every song here, Kanye’s rudimentary bars and rhyme schemes dull the track into disappointment. “Follow God” I enjoy, though. The throwback soul-sample vibe always sounds good next to its pioneer. This vibe carries onto “God Is” as well as Yeezy delivers his most passionate performance of the entire album. Honestly, his vocals are cringeworthy. Yet I can’t help but admire how authentic the song feels. It’s the lone track here that actually takes me to a spiritual place. And hearing Clipse reunite on “Use This Gospel,” accented by a killer Kenny G solo, is heartwarming.
Until he proves otherwise, however, Kanye West — the rapper — is dead. His career is by no means over. People, like me, will continue to support him in his artistic endeavors. But this type of effort simply won’t cut it. He has disqualified himself once again. By rushing every aspect of this record he now piles on the pressure for the Sunday Service album set to drop Christmas Day. What’s sad to me is that this album isn’t really about God. It’s about Kanye’s take on the world’s most popular denomination. A free-flowing Christian rap approach perhaps could’ve matured these ideas. We receive this mess nonetheless. Technically, I can’t speak for Him. But I’m pretty sure God does not care about Yeezy price points. People judge the hypocritical and the arrogant. Here West is both. Whatever Kanye evolves into these next few years, I just hope he finds his inner peace.