“You my Chick-fil-A,” was a common meme of a lyric from Kanye West’s 2019 effort, “JESUS IS KING.” While simultaneously clever and eye-rolling in its approach to the subject, Kanye West’s “JESUS IS KING” (and the subsequent Sunday Service Choir that spun off of that) is an overall genuine statement of faith from a wild entertainer, making the proclamation in a way that suits his overall oeuvre.
While the lyric lives on in infamy, the overall lyrical content of the album is a perfect example of the Philippians 1:15-18 passage where Paul writes about the different reasons some of his constituents at the time preached out of “envy” or “rivalry” while others preached out of “good will.” Paul ultimately concludes that “the important thing is that in every way, whether from false motives or true, Christ is preached” and that Christians should rejoice.
From the all-caps title, “JESUS IS KING” is firmly rooted in West’s faith, and serves as an overt testimony and testament to what God has done in his life, from the opener, “Every Hour,” to closer, “Jesus Is Lord.” West’s career is big, and he makes sure that everyone listening knows that his faith is just as big and loud. “JESUS IS KING” is a cohesive concept, conceptualizing newfound faith and proclaiming it with all of his artistic talent. Utilizing gospel giants like Kirk Franklin helps matters greatly, bringing in a titan from the Christian and gospel music scene to heighten the production in terms of value and content.
“Donda,” the long-awaited latest effort from West, released on Aug. 29, suffers from an identity crisis and the album is stubbornly pretentious and overstuffed. The imagery is overtly rooted in the Christian faith and modern pop-culture osmosis. “Jesus Lord,” the 17th track, references both “thirty pieces of silver” and “Wakanda,” the latter being a reference to his presidential bid. Is “Donda” about his recent, impending divorce? Is it about his mother? Or is it about his bid for president and then vice president? Or it is it a spiritual and literal sequel to the themes expressed, now expanded upon, in “JESUS IS KING?” It contains multitudes of messages, and while that overall message is muddled, there are still moments where his profession of his faith is very clearly stated.
Whatever the motives for West’s latest faith-centered output, Christians should view it as a wonderful expression of testimony, as Paul wrote. Christians should take the conversations that West is starting with these faith-integrated tracks and take it in stride to stir a proverbial or literal revival. West is an artist with enough clout to cause a massive hype for every release with simultaneous controversy. It is a modern work that sheds light on topics that many Christians may have a difficult time addressing on their own. As a result, it guides conversation toward biblical truth, and now that these ideas are out there, Christians should expand upon what West is singing about and use it as a tool to create and curate bigger conversations about faith.
Christians tend to spark inner debates about whether or not their faith is legitimate. Instead of pondering if West’s personal faith is legitimate, listeners should embrace the bold proclamation of faith as something to embolden themselves and strive to have conversations as big and boisterous as West’s tracks. So whether by “selfish ambition,” “envy” or “rivalry,” fans, listeners and Christians should not consider West as someone to decipher and dissect, but should take his artistry, warts and all, as a perfect opportunity to show that God works in mysterious ways, which sometimes means big, loud stadium-ready ways.