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Kanye West Finally Releases “Jesus Is King”

Kanye West Finally Releases “Jesus Is King” | Photo: Def Jam Records

Though it arrived a little later than scheduled, American rapper Kanye West eventually made true his promise to drop his new album, “Jesus Is King”.

The long awaited album was released following a series of delays.

West had promised in a tweet to release the album by midnight on Friday, but the hour came and went without an album.

Early Friday morning, West tweeted an explanation, sharing that they were still fine-tuning some tracks.

“To my fans, thank you for being loyal & patient,” he wrote. “We are specifically fixing mixes on ‘Everything We Need’ ‘Follow God’ & ‘Water.’ We not going to sleep until this album is out!”

“Jesus Is King” was initially set for a Sept 27 release which was announced by Kim Kardashian on August 29 in an Instagram post in which she shared a tracklist of the album.

On September 27, the album didn’t drop. Kardashian, however, posted an updated tracklist of the album with the caption “Have Faith”. Subsequent posts claimed the album would drop on September 29.

On September 29, West held an event he reported debuted clips from the accompanying documentary and played music from the new album.

The album release coincide with the release of the accompanying IMAX film “Jesus Is King”.

His new work paints a portrait of the artist as a saved man, coming in a year that’s seen West tour with his impromptu “Sunday Service” performances, a church-esque concert series featuring gospel choirs.

The IMAX film, which clocks in at approximately 30 minutes, shows a Sunday Service at Roden Crater in Arizona’s Painted Desert.

The film was directed by Nick Knight and filmed in James Turrell’s large-scale artwork, the Roden Crater, in the desert of northern Arizona.

It primarily features static shots of a choir, and ends on West gently singing a rendition of his song “Street Lights,” from 2008’s “808s & Heartbreak,” to a baby that appears to be his son Psalm.

West’s ninth studio album sees the mercurial artist who long imbued his rap with gospel further enmesh the two.

Elements of the old Yeezy appear — clever rhymes, catchy beats, smart samples — but the artist decidedly tilts the balance toward music with a stronger message of evangelical salvation.

“I been working for you my whole life / Told the devil that I’m goin’ on a strike,” West raps on “Hands On,” the ninth song on the 11-track album that features appearances from jazz saxophonist Kenny G and rapper Ty Dolla $ign.

West’s gospel-tinged rap underscores the complex relationship between two seemingly disparate strains of music rooted in black culture.

The genre known as gospel rap emerged in the 1980s, not long after hip-hop itself, but stayed in underground circles and received little formal industry backing.

Josef Sorett, a religion and African-American studies scholar, correlates the hiving off of gospel rap to the emergence of gangster rap, which sees artists boast of violence, misogyny and drug use.

“There is a perception of hip-hop as being fundamentally opposed to religious tradition — a distinction between the sacred and the profane,” the Columbia University professor told AFP.

But largely thanks to West and fellow Chicago artist Chance the Rapper, a new holy hip-hop has re-emerged in the mainstream.

West’s overt faith on his 2004 critically beloved hit “Jesus Walks” — which featured gospel wails and martial beats — did not prevent its play on non-Christian radio, marking a shift of sorts.

After “Jesus Walks” but prior to West’s revivalism, Chance had furthered the mainstreaming of gospel-influenced hip-hop with his much-touted 2016 mixtape “Coloring Book.”

In a Thursday interview with Zane Lowe on Apple Music’s “Beats 1”, West revealed that he has yet another project in the works called “Jesus Is Born,” set to release on Christmas.

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