Kanye West’s latest career move may come as a shock to some. To others, it offers a blessing.
Rapper, singer, songwriter, record producer, entrepreneur, and fashion designer—these are just a few of the titles to which Kanye lays claim across a wide ranging career.
In his music journey, he oftentimes ventured out onto stylistic change territory. But his upcoming release, which was recently revealed to the public in a sneak preview on Instagram, courtesy of his reality show star wife, Kim Kardashian, Kanye appears to grab hold of his faith to share with the world.
A Bible, which is opened to the book of Psalms, appears in a photo that Kim posted. Adjacent to the Good Book is a list of songs written in a notebook. At the top of the page is the album title “Jesus Is King,” with the names of tunes listed immediately below. The songs have Christian-themed titles that include “Garden,” “Selah,” “God Is,” “Baptized,” “Hands On,” “Sunday,” and “Sweet Jesus.”
Words and phrases, which appear to be lyric ideas written on a notepad with the phrase “He will defend,” are seen immediately above the words “kingdom,” “lion,” and “fire.” At the bottom of the page the date September 27th appears, indicating the album’s release date.
Just to make sure her Instagram followers received the explicit message that Kanye is close to dropping a Christian album, Kim captioned her post with a praying hands emoji that followed the release date.
Christians have wondered about Kanye’s faith over the years, especially due to his use of the nickname “Yeezus.” He has utilized Christian themes in his music as far back as 2004, with a tune titled “Jesus Walks.” After the success of the song, he was quoted by the New York Times as saying, “I will say that I’m spiritual. I have accepted Jesus as my Savior. And I will say that I fall short every day.”
In 2014 Kanye referred to himself as a Christian during one of his concerts, and again in a January 2019 Twitter post.
Kim was actually educated in Christian schools of both the Presbyterian and Roman Catholic denominations. “We don’t share it much, but we’re really religious,” she told Vogue.
“We start our day with a group chat with a Bible verse from my mom, and everyone chimes in on the meaning of it. We are very Christian—and our work ethic and our discipline comes from so many years at Catholic school,” Kim shared.
Kim’s father, Robert Kardashian, was Christian Armenian. In April 2015, Kim and Kanye traveled to the Armenian Quarter of the Old City in Jerusalem to have their daughter North baptized in the Armenian Apostolic Church at the Cathedral of St. James.
Kanye’s statements about his faith have become more explicit, giving testimony and signaling a willingness to share his Christianity. Nicki Minaj recently said on an Apple Music radio broadcast that Kanye had told her he has, in Christian terms, been “born again,” revealing to his female rap colleague that he had turned his life in a different direction.
“Sometimes in the music business, we think that other artists don’t believe in God or aren’t spiritual as we are…because I was just with Kanye, and he told me he’s a born-again Christian now,” Minaj said.
Kanye revealed to Minaj that his religious point of view fundamentally changed after a crisis in his life back in 2016. He discussed in the most recent issue of Forbes magazine the ordeal in which hospitalization required him to cancel his tour. The subject of the rapper’s faith was a prominent part of the magazine interview.
After being asked how he managed to come out of that challenging period in which he had been diagnosed as having bipolar disorder, Kanye explained that he had made it through by “being in service to Christ,” conducting himself in what he referred to as “radical obedience.”
Religious conviction also played a role in the growth of Kanye’s Athletic Shoe entity, Yeezy sneakers. A few years ago he was $53 million in debt and in need of finances to fund his innovative ideas. His shoe concern is expected to take in $1.5 billion in annual sales this year, according to Forbes, with Kanye owning 100% of the business.
“I’m just blessed through the grace of God to go from tweeting at Mark Zuckerberg,” Kanye said. He was referring to having asked the Facebook founder for $1 billion in investment funding.
This year Kanye initiated what he calls “Sunday Service” meetings, which are weekly gatherings for family and celebrity friends to fellowship and sing Christian-themed music together.
Kanye’s gatherings have looked and sounded more and more like church services. In fact, Kanye and Kim arranged for the cleric who conducted their wedding, Pastor Rich Wilkerson Jr., to preach a sermon there.
“I had the idea of making a church before but I really was sketching it out. Then in 2019, I was like I’m not letting a Sunday go by without making this,” West said on the season finale of “Keeping Up With the Kardashians.”
With a new Christian album and what, in essence, is a church, Kanye may have taken on the mantle of rap minister of the gospel.
May the world be blessed by the born again West.