Wake Up Mr West: Kanye West's Relationship With Faith From The Beginning
Updated: Aug 24
Kanye West recently released his long-awaited 9th solo studio album titled Jesus Is King on the 25th of October, after many false release dates and various title changes. This project is a new direction for Kanye as it potentially presents Kanye's newfound devotion to his religion and his purpose for his life at this stage.
After a string of intriguing interviews with Apple's Zane Lowe and LA radio legend Big Boy, we begin to see a more refined and intentional Kanye West from the sporadic and spontaneous individual that we have come to know - after various public outbursts on stage, on twitter and popular tabloid media outlet TMZ. Kanye West has clearly found a close relationship with God, although many are still unsure about his exact intentions since the beginning of his 'Sunday Service' endeavors which began in late 2018.
These services began as an outlet for Kanye West to express himself in a new way, his quest to find solitude and balance in his life and the creative process took him to the open landscapes of Wyoming. After the energy we saw at his Ye Listening sessions in Wyoming, it seems as though Kanye wanted to maintain that vibration on a weekly bases but through his faith of Christianity. These services were not as vocational as they have come to be in recent months. Gospel renditions of Kanye's previous classic records were performed by an elaborate choir and band, therefore allowing them to create their own Sunday Service performance at popular Los Angeles festival Coachella earlier this year.
At Coachella, this was the first time the general public was exposed to a full Sunday Service experience. We saw performances from Teyana Taylor, Chance the Rapper and of course Kanye himself. Close to the end of the performance, we saw a glimpse of what may have been Kanye's turning point and full induction into his faith. Kanye shared a very emotional moment while performing at Coachella as he was brought to tears for a reason unknown, however we believe this may have been an overwhelming reaction to the journey he had been on over the past year - from admitting on the larget tabloid media platform, TMZ, about his mental illness and backlash from his endorsement of Donald Trump - Kanye has stated himself that this was the most difficult period of his life.
After giving his life to Christ, Kanye West has now made it his mission to bring his faith to the forefront of his life and even his music. However, religious themes, references, and associates are not a new thing for Kanye. Although he is known as a creative genius, as well as a narcissist to many, Kanye and his faith have been loosely tied by the hip since his entrance into the music industry, and we are here to tell you why.
1. Gospel Samples
One of Kanye's most notable songs is Jesus Walks from his debut album College Dropout, along with the sample he also speaks on the music industry's disinterest in religious themes on the radio and with the average listener, evidence that his religion has always been part of his thought process.
Niggas In Paris
Kanye's chart-topping collaboration with Jay Z, produced by Hit-Boy, interestingly has a gospel sample by Reverend W.A. Donaldson from his song Baptizing Scene released in 1959 - Sample appears at 0:07
Little Girl's Prayer
On Life of Pablo, which was Kanye's first attempt at a 'gospel album' we hear a sweet prayer from a young 4-year-old Natalie praying. This sample is the introduction to Ultralight Beam which is a stand out track on the album.
2. Lyrical Religious References
Crack music is a track featuring West Coast rapper The Game from Kanye's second studio album Late Registration. On this record, we hear an outro with frequent Kanye collaborator Malik Yusuf making a rendition of the lord's prayer using street drug crack cocaine as a metaphor for the music they make.
"Our father, give us this day our daily bread, give us these days and take our daily bread See I done did all this ole bullshit And to atone I throw a little something, something on the pulpit We took that shit, measured it and then cooked that shit And what we gave back was crack music And now we ooze it through they nooks and crannies So our mammas ain't got to be they cooks and nannies And we gonna repo everything they ever took from Grammy Now the former slaves trade hooks for Grammy's This dark dixon has become America's addiction those who ain't even black use it"
I Am A God
I Am A God is a record from Kanye's Yeezus Album released in 2013. This song was very controversial at the time as some listeners were questioning Kanye's God complex. Kanye Raps:
I Wonder on Kanye's Graduation project is another track with a reference to God giving him the talent of a lyricist as Kanye raps:
Hip Hop Associates
Kanye West has worked with almost everyone notable in the music industry since his beginnings as a producer. throughout the years it is interesting to see that Kanye usually aligns himself with artists that tend to have religious backgrounds or references in their music. here is a list of a few.
The new President of G.o.od Music and highly skilled lyricist Pusha T is one of the artists associated with Kanye with a heavy religious background. Pusha T was part of a rap group called the Clipse, featured on Kanye West's latest album Jesus Is King. before becoming a solo artist, Pusha T and his blood brother No Malice were highly respected artists with platinum and Gold selling albums. No Malice later converted to Christianity and therefore left his rap career behind. Even without his brother going verse for verse with him, Pusha T has consistently had Religious references in his music and art direction. As a new solo artist, Pusha T released a string of mixtape titled 'Fear of God' and his last mixtape was titled 'Wrath of Cain', a double entendre that speaks to a frequent topic in Pusha T's music, cocaine, with the Biblical story of Cain and Abel.
Here is a Kanye rant letting us all know just how good Pusha T is:
Cyhi The Prynce
Cyhi The Prynce is another exceptional lyricist with a heavy religious background signed to Kanye's label G.O.O.D Music. Cyhi has been part of the Kanye camp since 2010 after his verse on the song 'So Appalled' on My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy. Cyhi has gone on to be credited on over 30 Kanye West songs in his discography. Similar to Pusha T, Cyhi is an artist that walks the thin line between authentic street music and religious references. In 2018 Cyhi the Prynce released his debut studio album titled 'No Dope on Sundays', a musical PSA informing listeners about a drug-dealing tradition to keep Sundays sacred by not selling narcotics on that day. Cyhi the Prynce has been frequently seen with the reverend tie seen on pastors and preachers. Cyhi has also stated that he and Kanye will be featured in the Last Testament of the bible.
Listen from from 12:16
Chance The Rapper
Chance The Rapper is another artist that has found his faith in recent years. Since the release of his Album Colouring book in 2016, Chance The Rapper has also been on a spiritual journey. Along with his album Chance The Rapper was a highly influential part of Kanye's Album Life of Pablo with songs such as Ultra Light Beam and Waves. These records were filled with Gospel influences but were not as potent as Kanye's Latest Release. Chance The Rapper has openly spoken about his faith and may in some ways be one of the strongest voices in bringing Kanye closer to his faith.
Mase is one of the first notable artists to give his life to Christ and turned his back on his rap career...for a little while at least. Kanye has been on record saying Mase is one of his favorite rappers, interesting given the recent turn of events. When Mase made his second return to the music industry, Mase was featured on the G.O.O.D Music compilation album Cruel Summer.
Comments & References
"If They Wrote The Bible Again, I Would Be In It" (2007)
On Tim Westwood's radio show in 2007, Kanye proclaimed that if the bible was written again, he would be featured in it due to his impact in pop culture, listen at (9:07)
Yeezus Is one of Kanye's most controversial and polarising projects in his catalog due to the title and some of the songs featured on the project such as 'I Am A God'. The title is in reference to 'Jesus' which brought a lot of backlash from Christians and non-Christians alike.
Kanye West's Yeezus tour was a highly impactful event at the time, from the set design to the Margiela mask featured as part of his stage costume. Another interesting element of the stage show was the appearance of an actor dressed as Jesus who speaks to Kanye as part of the stage show.
Kanye Predicts His Current Mission Statement
On one of Kanye's latest interviews with radio legend Big Boy, who has a long history with Kanye West played some thrilling audio of Kanye West describing his current journey of 'working for the church' in an interview 10 years ago. This shows that Kanye's mission may have always been leading to this point, either consciously or subconsciously.
To conclude, Kanye West has always had a relationship with the path in which he seems to be taking currently. from the music to visual references and even fashion, he has surrounded himself with religious individuals, some others not previously mentioned include Kirk Franklin, a renowned gospel musician and Jerry Lorenzo, owner and creative director of fashion brand Fear of God. Jesus is Kind seems to be a culmination of all these elements and Kanye seems to be letting Jesus take the wheel.
Let us know your thoughts on the new project below.