By G. Brown
Kanye West finally delivered on his promise and blessed his fandom with a new album. Titled “Jesus is King”, the album ties in nicely with Kanye’s new role as a misunderstood prophet leading the flocks who visit his Sunday Morning Worship.
It’s a branding move that seems to be working. The The NY Times says despite several deadlines (the album was initially due to release on September 27th) and some pretty bizarre public appearances, the “rapper’s gospel-influenced ninth album debuted at the top of the Billboard 200 with the equivalent of 264,000 sales.” The times says that astounding number includes 197 million streams of the album.
Still considered a secular artist by the industry it seems, with song titles like “Selah” and “Follow God”, you have to wonder if this is less hip hop and more hopped on the gospel, Christian genre album?
Several gospel singers are singing Kanye’s praises. One half of the hit making gospel duo MaryMary member Erica Campbell is looking not at the messenger but the message. Cambell told Billboard Magazine, “It’s great for Kanye to make this record. He doesn’t need it, so I think it’s a genuine reflection of where he is. I hope God continues to work on his heart and he continues to grow in faith. This is also good for the genre. It hopefully shows other kids — who maybe want to make gospel music but don’t think it’s ‘cool’ enough — that it’s OK to sing for Jesus. Because when you work for God, you can’t lose. So I don’t really see why anyone would be unhappy about Kanye doing gospel. It’s about souls coming to Christ — not about the genre. And hopefully this can bring more people to Jesus.”
Grammy Award winning singer Marvin Sapp celebrates Kanye saying, “It is amazing to see this transformation in Kanye West unfold. In Christ, all things are made new. I congratulate him on his new life in Christ and celebrate that because of this album, the cultural masses are talking about and experiencing Jesus in a bold new way.“
Many Christians are ready to live the life of Jesus and not judge Kanye on what is often an erratic lifestyle to say the least.
Others are willing to put the bible down and pick up the first stone to cast at Kanye.
Time Magazine says, “On Twitter, blog posts and published articles, black Christians have frequently accused West of hypocrisy and commodification — especially given his support of Donald Trump and his eyebrow-raising comment that slavery “sounds like a choice.”
The magazine goes on to point out that it’s hard for some to discern if the album is lifting up Jesus or if Kanye is just using the name Jesus to lift up himself…and sales.
Time notes it’s the same criticism Kanye’s Sunday Service received writing, “Tobi Oredein, writing in Premier Christianity magazine, also pointed to the seemingly megalomaniacal nature of the events: “He’s employed a choir of people who are not only singing his songs, but are all dressed in his apparel. Is Christ really at the center of this gathering?”
Kanye is following in the footsteps of his admittedly beloved Trump in that he is receiving a lot of unexplained and unmerited support from the Christian community. But does that mean that Kanye is souled out for Jesus…or sold out for the mighty mammon?
It doesn’t have to be a dilemma. He could be singing about Jesus or about Joe the drug dealer…if you like Kanye’s music, then this album will appeal to you. His faith shouldn’t factor into. Unless and until he calls himself a gospel singer, he should be able to sing about what he wishes without being expected to live up to whatever perceived moral standards exist for gospel singers.
As for Kanye leading people to Christ, that’s a burden no man should be willing to impose on another. People have followed preachers only to find them flawed humans who lie, cheat and steal like heathens. Remember when Black people loved Paula White because “she sounded Black” when she preached? Fast forward to now when many of those same Blacks are disgusted by her position as Trump’s spiritual adviser. Evangelicals claim Trump is God sent and some are even calling him God. That’s the reason why it’s best we don’t rely on Paula, Kanye or any man or woman to lead us to Christ. We never know exactly where they are leading us and we might not like it when we get there.