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  • James Mitchel Reed

The Gospel According To Kanye

Kanye changed my life. He showed me what it means to be an artist, to express deeply and truly. He has reflected thoughts back to me about honesty and integrity. If anyone in “Hollywood” is “real” than to me, it’s Kanye West.

I was surprised when Jesus is King finally dropped. Half because of all the lead-up and hype and half because I was somewhat shocked to hear another album in the “popular music genre.” It has gospel here and there and it’s packed with references subtle and not so subtle, but I wanted something I never heard before and if I’m going to hold anyone to the highest standards of artistic practice, then Kanye is up there.

When the album opened I was sitting in my friend’s living room thinking — holy shit, he did it again, I’m in for a crazy ride. Then, slowly but surely, the album descended into what I could only hear as a typical tracklist from most recent past, coloured with design and a title that told me the meaning. I wanted to be shown the meaning, to hear it through the music. I also wanted more gospel.

Instead of Ty Dolla Sign, I would have loved to hear CeCe Winans. While I can understand why Ye wouldn’t necessarily want Kirk Franklin on the record, I think it might be certified lunacy to not include him/his music. Safe to say the features were strange. My experience with the album was not heavenly, I was not lifted up by frequencies of God or by vibrations that I feel are meant to call out to a spirit like Jesus Christ. Instead of beats and (some) annoying sounds that go on for far too long, I wanted Kanye in a church. I wanted him surrounded by those illustrious crowds and musicians all dressed in white playing and creating an energy so real that it brought him back into people’s good graces after the whole manga hat debacle. I wanted to hear raw recordings of real sessions with real musicians and Kanye’s unfettered live performances. I wanted to feel his gospel for real, his expression. This album didn’t do that for me.

Were his collaborators too caught up in being a part of a “Ye project” that they forgot the incredible power that comes with an album to be heard by millions? Especially one that really is “coming from God”? Is it really about the music and the message? Or is it about getting hits and cementing even further his fame into legend for audacious choices, but not necessarily (anymore) revolutionary ones?


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