Though he’s previously collaborated with a bevy of producers and artists on records (remember when he had 14 features for “All of the Lights”?), he’ll typically play conductor and steer his ship.
For his ninth album, Jesus Is King, West switches things up and allows Jesus to take the wheel this go-round. On JIK, the braggadocious MC pedals back on the arrogance and exudes humility and gratitude throughout the 11 tracks.
Below, see which new songs proved to be West’s strongest, as we ranked all 11 tracks from Jesus Is King.
Throughout JIK, Kanye illustrates his restless fight with the Devil while glorifying God’s perfection. Here, Ye plays the sidelines and allows production savant, Timbaland, to run point on “Hands On.” The Timbo-produced track is a sharp contrast from his bouncy, bombastic style. For “Hands On,” the producer creates a mellow, airy beat for Ye to air out his grievances.
At this point, Yeezy’s lyrics are repetitive, especially since he’s rapping about rebuking the Devil for the umpteenth time. On paper, a Timbo/Ye pairing seems fantastic, but, sadly, the duo land a dud on their mistimed collaboration.
When Kanye chooses to sing, it can either be pretty dope or pretty bad. On “God Is,” the latter wins, as his dreadful vocals squeeze the air out of his fruitful message about overcoming addiction.
“Closed on Sunday”
Earlier this month, West’s ode to Chick-fil-A was the hot topic during his Jesus Is King album listening sessions. Instead of cooking up a tasty earworm, Yeezy bricks. Unfortunately, “Closed on Sunday” fails to connect due to its dark and eerie production. Ye’s singsongy delivery about Chick-fil-A‘s lemonade is also an airball from a lyrical standpoint.
After an empowering intro anchored by Kanye’s Sunday Service choir on “Every Hour,” West freely embraces his devout love for Christ on “Selah.” Biblical references are aplenty, as he compares himself to Noah and Abraham. The ambitious track also features cries of “Hallejuah” mid-track from West’s beloved choir, but also sees the Chicago MC struggling to maintain a steady and consistent flow.
When you press play on JIK and hear the soaring vocals of Kanye’s Sunday Service choir, it’s a breath of triumph. The tickling sound of the piano keys screams soulful. It’s a great welcoming for Mr. West after his year-long absence. Too bad we didn’t get to see more of Ye’s esteemed choir on JIK, because they were the key ingredients for his Sunday Services.
“Jesus Is Lord”
As triumphant as “Every Hour” is, JIK‘s outro “Jesus Is Lord” is equally compelling. The horns provide a glorious, champion-like feel to the album. Sadly, the outro is only 49 seconds long and doesn’t feature a verse from Kanye. One would believe that Ye would spare his listeners another 16, especially on the project’s closing moments, but instead, he issues us an impromptu goodbye from heaven’s rafters.
Fans received their first taste of “Water” during Ye’s Coachella performance last April. Frequent collaborator, Ant Clemons, along with Ye’s Sunday Service choir, thread together an encouraging message about removing toxic energy from one’s inner circles. Like “Everything We Need,” Clemons shines on hook duties, while West’s scripts a prayer-like verse that provides a simple, but yet, optimistic outlook.
“Everything We Need”
Kanye barely goes wrong with a Ty Dolla $ign feature. Since West’s 2016 album, The Life of Pablo, the West Coast crooner has proven to be a reliable go-to piece, carving sticky hooks and bridges for Yeezy. This time, Ty and Ant Clemons inject spiritual warmth to Ye’s lackluster quips. Lines like “What if Eve made apple juice?/ You gon’ do what Adam do?/ Or say, ‘Baby, let’s put this back on the tree'” falls flat. But thankfully, Ty and Clemons’ soothing vocals revive the track.
“Use This Gospel”
Towards the latter part of the album, West uses his cheat code and reunites The Clipse for a discussion about forgiveness on “Use This Gospel.” Ye plays a minimal role, sticking to the song’s chorus so that No Malice and Pusha-T can relish their brotherly reunion. The cherry on top comes courtesy of jazz legend Kenny G, who strings together a commanding solo at the end of the song.
“On God” is a pleasant surprise, considering it’s the most uptempo song on the album. After “Closed on Sunday” proves to be a fiasco, Pi’erre Bourne takes the wheel on the production side with West riding shotgun. This works to perfection, as West lets his lyrics pilot the sobering track.
Not only does he reflect on his 2002 car crash, his recent Forbes cover, and his Grammy success, but he also teeters along the lines of controversy by mentioning the 13th amendment. Bourne’s crafty hands are a breath of fresh air and help add some much-needed punch to West’s reflective effort.
For those salivating for a glimpse of the “Old Kanye,” look no further than “Follow God.” West, along with Boogz and Xcelence, masterfully flip Whole Truth’s 1974 track “Can You Lose By Following God” for the album’s standout track.
Instead of fighting the beat, West’s delivery is smooth, allowing him to glide with shrewd precision. West’s candor melts through the track, as he wrestles with living a righteous life under the watchful eye of his father. “I was looking at the ‘Gram and I don’t even like likes/ I was screamin’ at my Dad, he told me, ‘It ain’t Christ-like.'”