FAITH & FAME: Kanye West Brings ‘Jesus Is King’ to Life

Written by: Meagan Lynn – December 9th, 2019 5:27pm PT

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Kanye West is on a mission to share the word of God with the world, and he’s making it clear his newest Jesus Is King album was just the start.

Following his critically reviewed Biblical opera, Nebuchadnezzar, in Los Angeles, West premiered a new opera in Miami on Sunday entitled Mary. The press release called it “an original opera, based on the biblical story of the miraculous events surrounding the birth of Jesus Christ.” 

Kanye’s Mary Opera

The performance took place on a barge at the Miami Marine Stadium, and featured revamped gospel versions of “Devil In A New Dress” and “Can’t Tell Me Nothing.” The cast were all dressed in silver with matching face paint, West included, as he blended in with the choir–a decision that would have been shocking for any previous iteration of the music icon’s persona. 

Since the beginning of Sunday Services and release of his first all-gospel album, fans and critics alike have been critical of West’s newly turned leaf, and honestly, can you blame them? After all, when West visited the famed Pastor Joel Osteen’s Lakewood Church in Texas, he praised Jesus in one breath and called himself “the greatest artist that God created” in another, revealing his often debated God complex.

Criticism is something West anticipated well-before releasing Jesus Is King, as he wrote in the lyrics of “Hand On.” 

“Said I’m finna do a gospel album/ What have you been hearin’ from the Christians?/ They’ll be the first one to judge me/ Make it feel like nobody love me,” he raps.

James Corden interviews Kanye West

In an interview with James Cordon, the late night host asked West what he would say to those suspicious his new devotion to God is just the latest phase in his career.

“I’d say, when you go to sleep, would you agree that you are asleep when you are asleep? And when you wake up, would you agree that you are awake when you are awake? Would you agree those are two different states?” West said. “People who don’t believe are walking dead; they are asleep. And this is the awakening.”

Other prominent Christians have come to West’s defense. Media personality and Duck Dynasty star Sadie Robertson dedicated a video on YouTube to the subject, where she compared West’s spiritual journey to that of Saul in the Bible, a king who persecuted Christians but was transformed by God into a believer who travelled and taught the teachings of Jesus to others. In the video, she called other Christians to not be so quick to judge. 

“If there is a title of an album that is at the top of the charts that says Jesus is King, and you’re a follower of Jesus and that doesn’t make you rejoice? I’m just saying, let’s rejoice,” Robertson said. “a lot of times in the church we pray for revival, we pray for people in Hollywood, we pray for the entertainment industry and then it happens, and we’re like, oh wait, is this real?” She added, “As long as Jesus is peached, let’s step into that and let’s rejoice, and let’s choose to love each other well because I believe people are going to change not by our opinions, but they’re going to change by the way we love them.”

The Christian Broadcast Network held a roundtable discussion with contemporary Christian artists who are newfound colleagues of West’s. The musicians interviewed unanimously agreed that West’s spiritual and career conversion are something to be celebrated. 

“Knowing that some people are having a negative reaction or anger is bizarre to me,” said Kim Walker-Smith, a Grammy-nominated worship leader of the Jesus Culture Band. “To me, I view and hear him as a new Christian. You would never get angry at a new Christian for doing some things a little bit wrong or imperfectly when they are still being made perfect (like the rest of us in that process).”

“He is changing everything. A lot of what is out there in modern Christianity isn’t as vulnerable and daring as it could be, like what initially made Christianity so beautiful. It hasn’t had the level of honesty that he is bringing to his own faith journey, which I think is electric and has appeal to everyone in the world—believers, nonbelievers, all age groups,” said S. Blake Kanicka, a Grammy-nominated songwriter and composer. “Through him, we are getting to see Christian art at a level that it hasn’t been at in a long time.”

Since the release of Jesus Is King, West has opened up Sunday Services to the public and brought his records to life through operatic performances. He’s released a music video for “Closed On Sunday” featuring the entire Kardashian-West clan, as he seems to be bringing them along on his faith journey.

While 2010 West was still reeling from the fallout of his controversies with both Taylor Swift and President George Bush amidst the release of his explicit album My Dark Twisted Fantasy, he is finishing the decade as Billboard’s Top Gospel Artist; perhaps the most profound “10 Year Challenge” of them all. 

What will 2020 bring? In May, West is set to preach and pray with Osteen and wife Victoria at Yankee Stadium for a “Night of Hope.” As recent as early November, he was still hinting at a presidential run. Whether he’s heading to the pulpit or the Oval Office, one thing is for certain: West is going wherever Jesus Walks.

About The Author:

Meagan Lynn is a host at AfterBuzz TV and Elon University graduate with a degree in journalism. She loves singing, listening to inspirational podcasts and watching reality TV.

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