What a TIME to be alive, my friends!
In case you haven’t heard, Kanye West — aka: rapper extraordinaire, aka: Yeezus, aka: husband of Kim Kardashian — released an album last week titled, Jesus is King.
Yes, you read that correctly. Kanye West: with former rap hits like, “Gold Digger” and “I Love It,” — and who has famously rapped, “I am a god” — has now put out a gospel album titled, Jesus is King.
Now, if you’re “in the know” on Kanye, you will know that he has recently had a conversion of faith. And for the last better part of a year, he has been putting on “Sunday Services” — aka: church — for his A-List friends. And this album drop is, in essence, all of his modern-gospel style songs that they play at these church services.
OK – now you’re caught up. So let’s really chat.
The reception of this album has been all over the map. Truly. I mean, one of the most prominent — and controversial — rappers of our time, now all of a sudden does a life-180 and is rapping about Jesus? People have a lot to say.
It’s been called “Fake Christianity.” He’s been accused of Hawking Christianity for profitable gain. One publication called it “a richly produced but largely flawed record about one man’s love of the Lord (and himself).”
And to be honest, before listening to it and really getting up to speed on “everything Kanye” — that was my initial preconceived notion of it as well: There goes Kanye — trying to make the “Church of Kanye” happen. Talk about self-glorification at its finest.
But after listening to the entire album, and watching a live stream of one of his “Sunday Services,” as well as a few interviews — I’ve gotta say — I was completely wrong.
And for that, Kanye: I’m sorry I jumped to conclusions and made a snap judgement.
You see that’s the thing — people either love or hate the album, based on how they feel about Kanye himself. They’re viewing the album — and his Christian conversion — through their lens of judgement. They think about his politics, his stance on Trump, his Twitter tirades, his past, his former songs and the self-aggrandizement they conveyed. They judge him on who he married, on his overpriced clothing line, his feud with Taylor Swift.
When people see Kanye and hear his music, their opinions are already made up, due to all of that mind clutter getting in the way. Because, face it — he — and that whole family — are polarizing.
But you know what? I love it. I love the songs. I love what he’s doing. Heck, I think I even love Kanye! And here’s why.
We are witnessing, in Kanye West — the process of coming to faith. Converting to a life that follows Christ. And you know what? Conversions are messy. Heck just look at mine — it involved nearly succumbing to a severe case of anorexia.
Conversions are humbling. They are full of shaky footing and stumbles, and highs and lows — and we are witnessing all of it in Kanye.
Some people — myself included, at first — may look at this album, and those Sunday Services, and think that it’s just some thin gospel attempt with bland Christian themes, that is really just a Kanye concert, where Kanye is front and center in this incredibly manufactured cash grab. After all, he’s married to a Kardashian.
But here’s the truth: Kanye is an incredibly gifted musician and artist. Truly. His music — all of it — is next level. The beats, the vibe, the sound. God has blessed that man immensely with musical talent. And how freaking cool that He is using it to glorify God and share the gospel with the world? I mean, he has an enormous platform, and he’s choosing to share about Jesus! Just think about the impact that could have!
Kanye is giving the world goodness through his music. He’s making faith “cool,” and mainstream, and giving it a new face, a new vibe. He’s showing the world — which is overwhelmingly agnostic and athiest, I might add — that believing in God doesn’t have to be some “church lady” existence, a la Dana Carvey on SNL. No — worshiping God can be done in all forms, including lit rap songs.
In an interview with Apple Music, he opened up about his past and his faith, saying that “it’s my job to share what Jesus has done for me.”
He opened up about his pornography addiction. About his broken past with sex and money and addiction and how he has surrendered all of that to God. Sounds like a familiar journey — and for that, I’m cheering him on.
We are all on our own individual journeys of faith. And each and every one of us is in a different place on that road. But the awesome thing is that we’re all going the same place, with the same ultimate destination.
And though all of our stories look different – Jesus’ heart of mercy and heart of love and compassion and saving grace is the same for all of us — no matter if we’ve had an eating disorder, a broken history of XYZ, or even a compilation of rap songs about screwing ho’s and other explicit/illegal activities.
Jesus embraces and changes a repentant heart. And that is the best news of all.
SO. Kanye West. I applaud the magnitude of courage it took to step out with your faith. And I’m cheering for the work you’re doing for God. And I think we should all keep Mr. West in our prayers as he puts his voice out there for Jesus, the King!
“This is what the Lord says to these bones: I will make breath enter you, and you will come to life.” Ez 37:5
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