On a backdrop of years of antagonistic, conservative tweets, a leaked project, and many jokes at his expense regarding the release date, Kanye West finally released his album, Jesus is King. The project is filled to the brim with great intentions and musicality, only to be brought down by repetitiveness and staleness.
West fittingly brands Jesus is King as gospel. Throughout vocal samples and Kanye’s verses alike, the lyrics are either consistently passionate and filled with energy (as is often the case in the choir samples), or are introspective and thought-provoking. Only one song is ridiculously corny - Closed on Sunday - but it is a minor footnote in an otherwise good compilation of lyrics. The best example of this trend is present in Selah, the second track.
However, it is in Selah that a lot of the album’s problems begin to appear. The song itself is generic arena rap. In other terms, it sounds like the most generic song played before a football game. It lacks the passion and ingenuity that Kanye records previously had. Most unfortunate is this sound was once the cutting edge of pop music (a rather famous example being in Power, the hit single off of Kanye’s fourth fifth album My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy). But now, it lags behind, and sounds worse than his previous attempts at it.
The lack of ingenuity is present too in Everything We Need. Kanye uses distorted vocals to mimic electric guitar chords (a staple of his songs), but it does not mesh well with the track itself and, again, make the song feel like the shell of a decade-younger-Kanye-song’s self.
The biggest problem with the album is the repetition. Songs tend to feel as if they drag on forever, despite generally only being two minutes long. He tends to use the exact same meter and loop the same 7 second clip throughout the song, rarely incorporating any drums. As a result, a rather great sample quickly becomes stale, as is the case with Water. The same problem persists in tracks such as Hands On and the first minute or so of Use this Gospel,
Yet songs such as Use this Gospel highlight the most saddening aspect of the album: Kanye West can do better, and he shows us in these songs. The song starts out boringly repetitive, but develops into something wonderful - but by the time the song really gets started, it’s over.
Several songs - such as Every Hour and Jesus is Lord - are untouched gospel songs. They’re beautiful, and that’s what hurts most - Kanye has the capabilities of using these songs and creating a wonderful beat. He’s done it countless times before on previous records.
Yet, one track, Follow God, has none of these issues. The meter is not repetitive and the sample is wonderfully flipped. Repetition and poor instrumental choices do not apply here - I just wish I could say the same for the rest of the album, however.
Jesus is King is an album that feels less like a composition of Kanye’s artistic vision, and more like him saying “do you hear this music? You KNOW I could make something with this, huh?” - except, the “this” is his finished product.
Almost every sample in the record is perfect, but ultimately leaves so much to be desired.
I rate the album a 4.5/10. A few glaring flaws keep it from being an enjoyable record for me.