Religion has long been a vehicle for justification-bigotry, oppression, and on the bright side, emancipation. It’s not a new whip for Kanye to take for a spin either. Since “Jesus Walks”, Kanye has dropped clues throughout his career of a reckoning of sorts. On Yeezus he told us he was a god.
Now on Jesus is King, he works for god.
It would be blasphemy to compare this in the context of the old Kanye. This is no longer pink polo rap. Kanye hasn’t dealt in rap per se since minimal oppus Yeezus, at least not lyrically. Instead, he’s focused on soundscapes.
Though he’s been building a mountain of sound his whole career, a Sisyphean task for any mortal. For Kanye, the only resolve that makes sense is to dismantle it stone by stone and rebuild. Deliverance.
Building on Kanye’s foundation stones, soulful flips, “808s and Heartbreaks” auto-tuned soliloquies and left-field features, Jesus is King is a short-lived church service. But time is his economy now. That’s important for a man whose name is on a multi-billion dollar company. “Runaway” is nine minutes long, “Use this Gospel”, the longest song on Jesus is King, is just three and a half minutes.
I suspect we all expected Kanye to emerge from one of his most trying times with something as earthmoving, and sea parting as he did with “My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy” after a self-imposed exile. But Kanye doesn’t serve our expectations. He keeps telling us that.
“No more livin’ for the culture, we nobody’s slave” he raps on “Closed on Sunday”.
Now on his new mission, delivering on so many fronts, it’s a shame that the music has become a periphery for Kanye. But by god does he still make blessed beats.
4 sacraments out of 5.
Getting Out Our Dreams II / Def Jam Recordings
Reviewed by Darby-Perrin Larner