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How Kanye West has won with his latest album ‘Jesus is King’

In this new Gospel album, Kanye West makes multiple religious references, which have the potential to evangelise people, particularly the youth about the live of Christ

By Colette Cooper

IT IS difficult to listen to music today without hearing explicit lyrics, or to watch music videos without witnessing graphic images and objectification.

However, it seems as though we have been provided with a glimmer of hope in the darkness of worldly ways, with the arrival of Kanye West’s latest album, ‘Jesus is King.’

No explicit lyrics, no vulgar descriptions—instead, West seems to capture in his album how important it is to follow God, and in so doing suggests there is hope amid the darkness.

In this new Gospel album, West makes various religious references, including to multiple Bible verses, which have the potential, at least, of opening people’s eyes to Faith, and what it means to believe.

West’s reference to the Sabbath is one example.

In the Judeo-Christian tradition, the Sabbath is a day of religious observance and abstinence from worldly activities, including work. For Catholics, the Lord’s Day is Sunday, ‘a day of rest’ from which Pope Emeritus Benedict XV1 said all Christian social thinking flows as an ‘anticipation of the society free of domination, a foretaste of the city to come.’

Benedict also said: “The Sabbath is the heart of social legislation. If all social subordinations are suspended on the first or the seventh day, and if all social arrangements are revised in the rhythm of seven times seven years, then they will always be relative to the mutual freedom and common ownership of all.”

It has been said that the nature of the seventh day is revealed in the biblical notion of the Jubilee year, which came after ‘seven Sabbaths of years, seven times seven years.’ During this time, prisoners would be released, slaves freed, debts forgiven and more.
Closed on Sunday

Rapper West refers to this in his song, ‘Closed on Sunday,’ a practice connected to getting out of debt, freeing captives and overcoming addiction. West has previously spoken about his early addiction to pornography, now insisting: “It’s not OK.”

His lyrics also include: “They say the week start on Monday / But the strong start on Sunday / Won’t be in bondage to any man.” He also sings: “All the captives are forgiven / Time to break down all the prisons / Every man, every woman / There is freedom from addiction.”

This also suggests West has always had some inclination to follow Christianity, to believe, and develop his spiritual life.

Indeed, in 2009 the controversial star released a song called Jesus Walks, with the lyrics: “God show me the way because the Devil’s tryin’ to break me down / The only thing that I pray is that my feet don’t fail me now (I want Jesus) / I want to talk to God, but I’m afraid because we ain’t spoke in so long.”

The lyrics highlight that he, like many of us, has feared to reach out to God, as we feel we cannot be forgiven for our sins.
Yet, if we go to Him and truly apologise for what we have done, such as through the act of confession, we are given the chance to start afresh.

In another of his older songs, Can’t Tell Me Nothing, West sang: ‘I had a dream I could buy my way to Heaven / When I awoke I spent that on a necklace / I told God I’d be back in a second / Man, it’s so hard not to act reckless / To whom much is given, much is tested.’

This not only shows the power of money and wealth, which can lead to greed and sin, but also how we often make excuses to God for taking part in secular practices, and the struggles we face trying ‘not to act reckless.’

The lyrics also highlight the difficulty in steering away from temptation.

West, however, is not the only male rapper to call out to God in his lyrics. The rapper Stormzy released a song in 2017 called Blinded by Your Grace, with the lyrics: “I’m blinded by your grace / Every night, every day / And I was lost, yeah / But ever since you found me / I’m blinded by your grace / Through the darkness you came / And I’ll be alright / With you by my side.’

Stormzy has also highlighted that, despite the criticism he receives about his religious beliefs, it doesn’t stop him from praying, as shown in the lyrics of his song, Velvet, in which he raps: “The boys wanna tease at my Faith / That’s just another reason to pray.”

Ultimately, Kanye West’s spiritual journey and his latest release might serve to remind us that there is salvation amid the darkness, that it is never too late to turn to God, and away from sin.

As Saint Pope John Paul II said: “Do not be afraid. Do not be satisfied with mediocrity. Put out into the deep and let down your nets for a catch.”

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