MUSIC: Kanye West Conclusively Shares “Jesus Is King” Album

He told us what it emanated from the very beginning. “God, show me the way because the Devil’s tryin’ to break me down,” Kanye West pleaded on “Jesus Walks.” This was 15 years and eight solo albums afore JESUS IS KING, the project where the man who once urged people to call him “Yeezus” resolves to ambulate solely in the light. “I’ve spread a plethora of things,” West tells Apple Music’s Zane Lowe in a sit-down ahead of the album’s release. “There was a time I was letting you ken what high fashion had done for me, I was letting you ken what the Hennessy had done for me, all these things—but now I’m letting you ken what Jesus has done for me.”

To avail spread the good word, West calls on some of the most celebrated voices of both gopsel and secular music, including Fred Hammond, Ty Dolla $ign, and even smooth-jazz legend Kenny G. The album is a declaration of faith, the MC giving his testimony through the art form he’s spent a lifetime idealizing. West himself, who at one time called his seventh project, The Life of Pablo, “a gospel album with a whole lot of imprecating,” withal expounds to Apple Music that he’s been actively endeavoring to cut back on swearing and even asked unmarried collaborators to abstain from sex while working on JESUS IS KING. For their efforts, we get gospel rap as envisioned by one of hip-hop’s all-time greatest composers.

The old Kanye (“chop up the soul Kanye”) and his discerning auditory perceiver for sample cull is present throughout, as is one masterfully wielding the weighty harmonies of the Sunday Accommodation Choir, a Los Angeles group operating in the tradition of the ebony American church. They shine with a minimalistic piano accompaniment on album opener “Every Hour,” while Kanye makes space for his own voice, singing and rapping over the warm and elastic synth tones of “Water.” It all makes for an album unlike any West has distributed, and one that might set the tone for the future of his music-making. To let West tell it, however, that particular decision is marginally his alone. “I have some visions,” he tells Lowe of his orchestrations for ingenious projects both musical and otherwise. “But the more that I am in accommodation to God, I just clear my head and arouse more empty every day and let God do the driving and utilize me as he may. You ken, you make plans and God laughs.”

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