Religion is everywhere, whether from holidays to our weekly or daily devotions to higher powers, religion is everywhere. The way religion is interpreted is completely up to each individual, however, some praise their God to a different extent. Kanye West has been an interesting character throughout his career and 2019 spares no expenses in this stage of his life. However, while most would say this newfound love in God is unexpected and only an act for attention or money, one would be very wrong to assume that. Kanye’s faith in religion and God has been around since his first album The College Dropout in 2004 with “Jesus Walks”. The song “Jesus Walks” was a huge success in 2004 and Kanye continued to reference God in his music ever since, however, he never fully made an album revolving around his Lord and Savior. Some religious artists found some traction such as Skillet and Lecrae, but many failed to grasp a loyal and dedicated fanbase over the years. But was 2004-2019 the proper climate to discuss religious tones in music for Kanye West?
“They say you can rap about anything except for Jesus
That means guns, sex, lies, videotape
But if I talk about God my record won’t get played, huh?”
With “Jesus Walks” being a hit in the music industry, Kanye West proved that religious themed-songs could succeed in the modern industry of music. But a successful religious rap album was simply a dream for Kanye. Instead of making a whole album devoted to God, he instead decided to sprinkle religious themes and religion into his albums since 2004 as a way to praise his God while still being a commercial hit. While Kanye’s lyrics weren’t necessarily “holy”, they were put in place for a reason. Up to his release of Yeezus, Kanye particularly discussed his own sins and focused the narratives of each album on himself and how he lives. With Yeezus, Kanye suggested that he himself is a God with his song “I Am a God”; this very sinful act would become the catalyst for a brand new and rejuvenated Kanye West in 2019.
In “I Am a God”, Kanye single-handedly proclaimed that he is a being of higher power and should be treated as such. This statement comes from his second wind that My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy created in 2010. After the release of My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, Kanye was as motivated as ever to continue his streak of success and hits that MBDTF produced. In doing so, Kanye West became as sinful, influential, and experimental as ever. This new era of Kanye that gave us Yeezus, a new perspective of what it felt like to be an influential multi-millionaire living in the year 2013. Kanye was fueled by money and power at this time and it is reflected in his songs from Yeezus. This new side of Kanye would last for a few years until his next perspective change that would occur in 2016.
2016 would change Kanye West’s music, ideology, and life forever because it is the year that he would allegedly be $53 million in debt. This debt would lead Kanye to a figure that he hasn’t seen in a while, God. With his 2016 album, The Life Of Pablo Kanye starts off the album with a track titled “Ultralight Beam”. What might be one of the best Kanye West album introductions also reveals a tease of who Kanye has been talking to during his troubled times. Kanye reconnected with the one figure who was there with him from the start; and in doing so was able to solve his debt crisis, release a highly regarded and successful album, and continue his sumptuous clothing line. Kanye has high praise for this figure and talking to Him was able to put him in a great position until his stability issues in 2018 with Ye.
2018 was an interesting year for Mr. West. Two years after reaffirming his faith in Christianity he lost security within his own life. The album Ye features Kanye discussing his battle with mental health and relationships with loved ones and friends. This is a low point for Kanye that hasn’t been seen since 2008 with his complete emotional breakdown and the release of 808s & Heartbreak. But with his strong work ethic, friends, and family he was able to rise once more about a week later with the release of Kids See Ghosts. With the release of this collaboration with Kid Cudi, Kanye found himself again and was eventually reborn as a new and stronger man who was still searching for answers and a figure of power.
Fast-forward to October of 2018 and we have Kanye West attempting to find an idol in former businessman and current President Donald Trump. This led to a tirade and a slew of negative comments. Kanye thought that the President would make a good idol but was met with negative reactions from a fair amount of listeners. Where Kanye thought he could come back into touch with power, he was only met with hate and pessimism from his community. This brings us to January 1st of 2019 where we have Kanye West leaving Twitter after never releasing his scheduled album Yandhi in November and facing backlash for his political comments. With not releasing Yandhi and aligning himself with a political figure, Kanye West essentially left many fans upset, confused, and worried for Kanye and his future.
With Kanye West officially off of social media, waves of people wondered where he was heading following the 1st of January 2019. It was at this point where Kanye had to reinvent himself and his style like he’s done numerous times in the past. Kanye reached out to the one person who never left his side, God. In doing so he started the highly energetic and faithful Sunday Service’s that have played a huge role in his return to Christianity and God. Kanye went back to his roots and asked God for another favor; redemption. When Kanye left God behind in 2018 his life started to fall apart and his ideologies became questionable. But in 2019, Kanye Omari West fully pledged himself to Christianity and decided to spread the word of Jesus around the world with his newest album, Jesus Is King. This album marks the rebirth of Kanye and his first non-secular album release.
After 15 years, Kanye finally decided to release a religious album without fearing the repercussions and potential of being a commercial and critical failure. The album was received by the critics as average but was a chart-topping success for it’s the first opening week. The album fell off the top charts fairly quickly, but the impact it made remains to this day. Within 15 years we’ve seen Kanye West battle with love, loss, success, failure, and most importantly religion. Today, Kanye West is talked about and associated with religion, the single force that put him on the map. The path of Kanye West has been a long, tough, and often questionable but he is finally happy. Kanye West is finally free.