Kanye West Decides to “Use This Gospel”: “Jesus is King” Album Review


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Branching out from his original base of hip-hop, Kanye West has ventured into R&B, synth-pop, electro, soul, baroque pop and, most recently gospel.

Erin Choi and Simrat Singh

Kanye West, a prominent icon in the music industry, continues to experiment with an eclectic array of styles, with each album marking a new phase of his professional career. In his Oct. 19 release, “Jesus is King,” West delves into black gospel music, revealing his newly-affirmed faith in Evangelical Christianity.

The following review takes a deeper look into some of the most well-regarded and popular songs from the album.

“Selah” was a highly anticipated track due to its appearance in a trailer preceding the release of the album. In this organ-heavy track, West professes his faith in God, comparing his struggles to those of biblical figures Abraham and Noah. The climax of the song is builds with strong instrumentals that juxtapose with a powerful choir singing “Hallelujah” repeatedly. Powerful drums punctuate the ends of his lines.

“Follow God”
“Follow God” is most reminiscent of West’s style in previous works, featuring a sampled introduction from Whole Truth’s 1974 gospel track, “Can You Lose by Following God.” A prototypical old West song, he brings back the fast-based lyrical rap that built his fame while still keeping a Christian element to the song, making it the highest charting song of the album at #2 on the Billboard Hot 100 Charts. West delivers his lines smoothly, rapping on the temptations and problems with social media as well as his tumultuous relationship with his father.

“Closed on Sunday”
West preludes with a strumming guitar accompanied by soft vocalizations. He proceeds to a Chick-fil-A reference that disturbs the somber tone of the song. Intentionally or not, the depth and genuineness of his message is undermined by the slightly absurd parallel between a holy day and a fast-food chain. The song maintains a catchy electro-funk beat throughout that contrasts West’s soft voice.

“Hands On”
West introduces the track with a distorted warbling of “hands on,” repeating it several times before beginning to rap. “Hands On” elicited controversy due to generalizing statements about the Christian community. West sings, “What have you been hearin’ from the Christians?/They’ll be the first one to judge me/Make it feel like nobody love me,” presenting the Christian community as the first ones to judge and discredit his validity despite the connection he has felt to them.

“Use This Gospel”
Beginning with West’s own vocalizations and the back of digital voices, the song has multiple parts that keep listeners engaged throughout. In the closing track, West encourages listeners to utilize the album as a tool on their paths to religious enlightenment. The presence of Kenny G elevates the track with a saxophone break that closes the song on a high note and masterfully displays the evolution of West from his old style to his newer one.