Jesus Is King Review: Kanye West Comes Back With an Enjoyable Listen, but With Many Flaws
On October 25th, Kanye West finally released his long-awaited, gospel inspired album ‘Jesus Is King’. Personally, I had my reservations going into this album as although Kanye has made a lot of gospel inspired music before, I didn’t know how he would carry it across an entire album, especially with the majority of the lyrics being about his religion and relationship with God. For the most part, I think this album is an enjoyable listen, but I believe that it could’ve been put together so much better and does not live up to my usual standards for Kanye.
The production on the record for the most part is fantastic, being incredibly minimalist. However, this does not take away from the fact that there are so many instances on the album where there has been poor mixing, and considering Kanye delayed the album to fix the mixing choices, I wouldn’t have been mad if he delayed it even further to continue to fix it. That being said, the way a lot of production is put together is definitely a great musical experience and makes you feel a sense of freedom. I’m agnostic myself, but even I felt some sort of better connection toward a higher power.
The purpose of the album is and always seemed to be about finding freedom within yourself, something that Kanye has been pushing for his entire career, but even more so in the past couple of years, and it is evident that Kanye has found his own sense of freedom in his relationship with his faith. I really loved some of the production which you would struggle to find on any other hip-hop album, most notably on ‘Use This Gospel’ when Kenny G comes in with a solo saxophone performance that probably moved everyone that listened to the record. I think my favourite production on the album was on ‘Selah’, with the chorus of ‘Hallelujah’s’ made me feel like I was shifting into some other dimension, along with the hard hitting drums on Kanye’s second verse, and since the album came out I think this is the only track that I consider to be a 10/10.
A big thing for me that I think could’ve been achieved so much better on the album is how anti-climactic so many of the tracks feel. Each track apart from a couple are so short, making it feel pretty underwhelming when you get to the end of it. This album could’ve been stretched out to around another 10 minutes in length, which I think would make it a more satisfying listen. The most frustrating instance of this is on the track ‘Follow God’. I think this cut has an insane beat with some of Kanye’s best lyrics and best flow in his career, with lines like: ‘Lifelike, this is what your life like
Try to live your life right People really know you, push your buttons like type write This is like a movie, but it's really game of life, right Every single night right, every single bright right I was looking at the 'Gram and I don't even like likes’
Being a perfect example of this. But the track is only 1:45 long, which feels way too short for what it could have been. If the track was stretched out to around 3 or 4 minutes, I believe that it could have been one of the best and most memorable tracks of the year.
I did enjoy a lot of the vocals and features on this album, especially from the choirs. Each time the vocals of the Sunday Service Choir comes in, it feels like an incredible experience, and I’m always happy to hear the vocals in the record.
The features from the likes of Kenny G and Clipse to a great job in their cameos, although the vocals from Pusha T and No Malice could have definitely been mixed better. Ye does a great job on the vocals too, coming out with some of his best vocal performances in his career, especially on ‘God is’, which is a beautiful track for the most part. Ye has such smooth vocals on this track right up until the very end, where his voice becomes incredibly croaky, which makes it a less enjoyable track to listen to. I’m sure this was done on purpose, but I really don’t know why as the performance was so good up until’ that point. One of the best things on the album has to be Kanye’s passion in the music he is making. It is evident that Kanye is making the music he wants to make, and it’s amazing to hear the passion behind his voice on the album, which makes the vocals hit you even harder.
I found myself having very mixed feeling on the lyrics in the album. I understand that the album is about Kanye’s faith, but because I enjoy albums with an array of themes and concepts, I did find the praise to God to become a bit repetitive, so when Kanye came out on the album and declared himself the greatest artist of all time, I actually found it refreshing, and I loved the line. Apart from a few tracks, the lyrics didn’t impress me all that much in terms of wordplay and flows, which was another thing I found to be pretty underwhelming on the album.
Overall, I think ‘Jesus Is King’ is a pretty good album, and does a great job at conveying the message it wants to convey, which is finding freedom in yourself. I think the album could have been better with some very simple tweaks however, with things such as the mixing and short length of the tracks actually becoming quite frustrating. It’s easily gets better the more and more you listen to it, and could be an amazing experience to listen to live. I’m excited to listen to ‘Jesus Is Born’, and I hope that if Ye continues to make Gospel music, he learns from some of the mistakes he made on this album.
Fav Tracks: Selah, Follow God, Use This Gospel