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A Critique of Jesus is King

Last week, enigmatic rapper and producer Kanye West released his new gospel/hip hop fusion album Jesus is King. Following a turbulent year of fake albums, leaks and missed release dates the new Kanye West album has finally arrived.

Kanye has never strayed away from being brash and unconventional, and in the past the gospel sound really worked well for him on tracks like Ultralight Beam and Father Stretch my Hands. Because of this I saw no reason why a Gospel album by Kanye wouldn’t be yet another classic in his extensive discography. Unfortunately, I was hopelessly, tragically wrong.

Not to say this album doesn’t have its moments. One of the most mystifying reasons why this project came out so mediocre is that it has flashes of genius in nearly every track. Follow God is the most immediate standout track with one of the best beats Kanye has made in recent memory, a looping, rolling banger with gritty sample work that makes following the righteous path sound cooler than ever. However, its greatness is eclipsed by the fact that it’s well under two minutes long and just seems like Kanye threw it in there so he could have at least SOMETHING good on the album. In fact, almost all of the songs are 2 minutes or shorter, which makes it even more puzzling as to why I still end up wanting to skip every song halfway through. On God and Everything We Need are good tracks that harken back to a familiar Kanye sound infused with Gospel elements. This is the style I would have expected an album like this to sound like, except even still these songs are a bit droll and underwhelming.

The real problem with this album is the seeming lack of effort from Kanye’s part, with the whole album sounding like an unfinished demo. The mixing is astonishingly bad in many parts: in Selah, I believe Kanye sounds more like he’s shouting into the mic through a tube ten feet across the room rather than actually preforming. He didn’t even bother properly adjusting the volume of the song, with rampant clipping making it sound like he’s crinkling a potato chip bag over the mic around the 2 minute mark. Saleh is just one example, but this whole album lacks the trademark polish that most Kanye West albums are known for. And coming from one of the best producers of all time, I would expect something much better.

The beats are still very impressive for the most part, but without proper mixing they just seem like wasted potential. Kanye doesn’t add much in the way of lyrics over these beats either, with what I believe to be one of his worst rapping performances of all time being on the absolutely abhorrent track, Closed On Sundays. Overall, I think this album is quite bad. In fact,think it’s so bad that I didn’t really understand how bad it is until I listened to it a couple times and realized I have no reason to listen to anything on it ever again. 3/10


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