Album: Jesus is King
Record Labels: GOOD Music, Def Jam Recordings
Recommended Tracks: Use This Gospel, Selah
Kanye West is an American rapper, singer, songwriter, record producer, entrepreneur, and fashion designer. His music has included a vast array of styles, being influenced by hip hop, soul, baroque pop, electro, indie rock, synth-pop, industrial, and gospel. Ever since his debut album, The College Dropout debuted in 2004, he has been a monolithic presence in modern rap, hip-hop, and culture and industry. His newest album, Jesus is King, was released on September 27th, 2019. The album reflects Kanye’s own spirituality and his return to Christianity. The tracks on this album are all deeply invigorating and soul-grabbing, stirring a feeling of a higher power in any person listening. You do not have to be a Christian or spiritual person to enjoy and benefit from this album. Kanye uses a variety of music styles amongst his tracks that invoke spirituality and power in different ways that showcase his musical talents. Any person who goes into this album listening with an open mind and heart will benefit from it immensely.
Selah is a track that starts slow and reminds one of gospel music the moment it is heard. We then hear Kanye’s iconic voice come over the track and the beat start to pick up. We are then greeted by a large and rising chorus that overtakes the song and erupts into a spiritual chant. Kanye’s verse takes turns with the chorus back and forth until the track is over. The track finishes somewhat abruptly, leaving the listener with a slightly jarring and uneasy feeling. The song is seemingly mysterious and mystical and can leave the listener somewhat confused after finishing it. The picture gets even broader, however, when we take into consideration the meaning of the title- Selah. Selah is a word used 74 times in the Hebrew Bible—seventy-one times in the Psalms and three times in the Book of Habakkuk. The meaning of the word is unknown, though various interpretations of the word exist. As the psalms have also been sung as well as read, the word selah has historically been used to signify a beat or pause at the end of the song to signify the place of an “amen.” This is likely to be what Kanye is referring to on this track, yet the song feels as mystical and sensational as the unknown origins of this ancient and holy word. The track is an interesting one for anyone to listen to.
As Use This Gospel begins, we are greeted with a repeated blaring sound. Kanye’s voice comes into the picture, supported by a new beat and chorus to back him up. The blaring sound continues in the background as the rapper Clipse comes onto the song. He trades verses with Kanye until we get a break in the beat for a beautiful and powerful saxophone solo. The song ends shortly thereafter. The song has an added meaning and purpose when the blaring sound is identified as the sound a car makes when a door is left open. This is to signify Kanye’s return to Christianity after his car crash in 2004. This song does everything right- it is both catchy and beautiful, light and emotionally charged. It is a testament to spirit and new beginnings, and one of the album’s strongest tracks.
Jesus is King is a testament to Kanye West’s musical genius and ability to incorporate multiple genres of music for one concerted purpose. The album is about Chrisitan spirituality, and one does not need to be a spiritual Christian to feel the power and emotion behind the tracks. I give this album a resounding 5 out of 5 rating.