The Paw Print Reviews JESUS IS KING by Kanye West

Noah Neri, Staff Writer

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Kanye West is a changed man. 

Over the course of about a year, the cultural icon has gone from releasing the notoriously filthy lyrics of “I Love It” and “XTCY” to creating a full-fledged gospel album, “Jesus Is King.” In this Paw Print album review, I’ll be giving my thoughts, song-by-song, on the album.

 

“Every Hour:” 

This album begins with a traditional gospel song completely devoid of Ye (West’s nickname), instead featuring Kanye’s Sunday Service Choir. The song sets a strong tone for the rest of the album, but without Ye on the track, it feels somewhat average. I’ll probably skip this song on future listens.

 

“Selah:” 

There’s Ye! Kanye begins his performance in the second song of the album and it is marvelous. The song is powerful and has epic momentum, as its myriad of top-flight producers create a steadily building excitement punctuated at its climax by drums. Ye cites Bible verses John 8:33 and 8:36 to illustrate his newfound feeling of freedom as a Christian. Ye also tells how his conversion was the reason that his anticipated “Yandhi” project was cancelled, rapping, “Everybody wanted Yandhi/Then Jesus Christ did the laundry.” In “Selah,” Kanye seamlessly weaves pop culture, Biblical ideas, rap and gospel into an excellent song.

 

“Follow God:”

“Follow God” immediately stands out, as West spits a smooth and consistent flow over a sample of Whole Truth’s 1985 song “Can You Lose by Following God.” The rapper discusses his struggles to live a godly life, the growth of his faith, and, in particular, the influence of an argument with his father, Ray West. This more old-school influenced track stands out, largely as a result of the contrast between the gospel sample and rap.

 

“Closed on Sunday:”

This song begins with relatively barren production and there are only a few guitar chords and some background instrumental as Ye delivers, “Closed on Sunday/You my Chick-Fil-A.” This reference to the restaurant is meant to demonstrate Kanye’s reverence for worship on Sunday, a holy, set apart day for Christians. 

 

However, this can come off as a rather corny punchline, especially when he raps, “You my number one, with the lemonade.” After these emphasized lines, the beat ramps up and Kanye goes into singing a stadium rock-like melody about setting boundaries to keep his family away from sinful influences. The last part of the song personally felt a tad generic, so I have “Sunday” as merely an average track.

 

“On God:”

I have mixed emotions about this track. First off, the beat is beautiful, upbeat and innovative, and Ye even let Pi’erre Bourne keep his iconic tag. West also explores some interesting topics on this record. Ye continues his controversial statements about slavery with the bars, “And all my brothers locked up on the yard/You can still be anything you wanna be/Went from one in four to one in three/Thirteenth amendment, gotta end it, that’s on me.” Here, West references the thirteenth amendment, which abolished slavery except as a punishment for crime and raps about how he would like to remove the exception and ban all slavery outright. 

 

Another interesting moment of this song comes when Kanye references his expensive clothing line, expressing that high taxes are the reason for the high prices on coveted Yeezy Supply clothing. Unfortunately, these nuanced topics are delivered in one of the blandest Ye flows on the album. This song grades out as simply above average.

 

“Everything We Need:”

This is an insanely killer hook by Ty Dolla. This song has easily the most catchy melody and delivers a very solid flow from Kanye, although it falls short of the lofty bar of the chorus. Production adds to the song with a series of up and down notes that make the beat interesting, but still complementary to the vocals. Definitely a top song from this album.

 

“Water:”
Ant Clemons sings background vocals about being pure as water, and Ye raps a prayer-like series of requests to Jesus. This song didn’t pop out to much to me and some of the spoken bars felt slightly cheesy, but it achieves its intended tone of purity, I guess? Below average song.

 

“God Is:”

Kanye puts on a raw, unedited vocal performance and sings the entire song. He does a good job of it too, and you could even mistake his verse for a feature by a gospel singer. “God Is” is Ye’s spiritual summary and a pretty decent song.

 

“Hands On:”

Kanye’s voice resonates over some synths and his lyrics return to his much-harped topics of the 13th amendment and the choices one makes. He also addresses his reception from the Christian community, rapping, “They’ll be the first ones to judge me/make it feel like nobody loves me.” This is an above average song where Ye addresses the flipside of his conversion.

 

“Use This Gospel:”

The last highlight of this album, “Use This Gospel” is a reworked version of a scrapped Yandhi track and features Kenny G as well as reuniting the rap duo Clipse, comprised of Pusha T and his older brother, No Malice. Over a beat with humming and a beeping reminiscent of a quiet alarm, Ye smoothly sings about putting on the armor of God, and Clipse raps about how God helped them to escape a sinful life of drugs and violence. Finally, the track ends with a Kenny G sax solo that meshes better than you would expect with a rap track. One of my favorites.

 

“Jesus Is Lord:”

Over trumpets, Kanye proclaims the sovereignty of Jesus. A fitting closure, the lyrical content suggests Kanye intends this to be a kind of doxology, an ending prayer to the album. Obviously, this isn’t meant to be taken as a standalone song but in conjunction with the rest of the album’s theme, and it works well for its purpose.