Yeezy season is approaching — that is if Kanye West, does in fact release his delayed Jesus Is King album on Friday (Oct. 25) along with his IMAX film as planned.
It’s been a long road for West since the arrival of his critically underwhelming Ye album last summer. He was slated to return with the mythical Yandhi almost a year ago to the day, which was repeatedly delayed and looks to have now been perhaps scrapped for good, amid all of the Internet leaks.
For much of 2019, West’s Sunday Service has been his passion project, seeing the rapper put on an array of gospel performances with a choir across the country. The holy sessions have taken place in California, on his newly purchased estate in Wyoming, back home in Chicago, Ohio, and even at Coachella on Easter Sunday this year.
Back in August, Kim Kardashian teased a track list and a release date for Jesus Is King in a post to Twitter, which sent the West Stans into an immediate frenzy. In the weeks leading up to the project’s supposed release, Kanye has brought the Jesus Is King Experience to Detroit, Chicago, and NYC to play the album and preview portions of his documentary and IMAX film. There’s another album listening and film experience slated for The Forum in Los Angeles on Wednesday (Oct. 23).
Until Friday (Oct. 25), here is everything we know about Jesus Is King.
The Track List
If the track order played at the NYC experience was to come to fruition, Jesus Is King will be kept at a concise 10 tracks. West has practiced minimalism on his several projects this decade, as Yeezus boasted 10 songs and 2018’s ye and Kid Cudi collab Kids See Ghosts both followed with just seven cuts. JIK looks to take on a spiritual motif. as he told the NYC crowd that this project would be “an expression of the gospel.” As of press time, here’s the track list:
1. “Beauty From Ashes”
2. “Follow God”
3. “On God”
4. “Closed on Sunday”
5. “Water” Feat. Ant Clemons
7. “New Body” Feat. Ty Dolla $ign & Nicki Minaj
8. “L.A. Monster”
9. “Hands On” Feat. Fred Hammond
10. “Use This Gospel” Feat. Clipse & Kenny G
Previously-Performed Sunday Service Song “Water” Will Be On the Album
“Water” was initially premiered during Sunday Service at Coachella back in April of this year. The psychedelic tune finds Kanye on the track joined by Ant Clemons, who has worked his way from relative unknown to an integral part of West’s inner circle, and the versatile Ty Dolla $ign, both of who made significant contributions to Ye. The 42-year-old has often referred to wanting himself to be more like water, possibly in a purer sense. “We are water/ Clean us like the rain in spring/ Take the chlorine out of conversation,” he sings.
In addition to Ty Dolla $ign and Ant Clemons, it remains to be seen who West, the mastermind behind the art of collaboration, will make the cut to guest on the project. Nicki Minaj admitted to The Shade Room that her re-recorded verse on “New Body” was still in flux, as West was unsure if he’d want to keep the previously raunchy track on his album. Fred Hammond does assist on “Hands On.”
We’ll also see if Young Thug convinced Kanye to put his verse back onto “On God.” Thugger recently tweeted West, asking if he’s still on Jesus Is King. There were rumors he would be on “On God,” but when West played the album for fans in late September, Thugger’s vocals were nowhere to be found.
However, Yeezy did reunite Pusha T and No Malice as the Clipse on album closer “Use This Gospel” alongside Kenny G on the saxophone, which should become a bona fide fan favorite and standout from the effort.
The Return of Rick Rubin the Reducer
While most would look at Rick Rubin as a producer, the Def Jam co-founder refers to himself as a “reducer.” Rubin helped West beat the buzzer and bring a stripped-down version of Yeezus across the finish line with no time to spare in 2013. Rubin was spotted with Kanye once again after Sunday Service in Wyoming over the weekend (Sept. 22). It seems West may be looking to solicit Rick’s masterful ear for a test run before revealing the project to the masses.
Kanye’s Reconnection With His Faith
With Sunday Service being his main focus for much of the year, West is clearly a man that’s reconnected with his faith in some fashion. Speaking on Queen Radio in July, Nicki Minaj said that Kanye told her he’s a born-again Christian. “I just was with Kanye, and he told me he’s a born-again Christian now. Like my first instinct was, ‘I’m so proud of you,’ because I could see there’s a peace that he has now that just surpasses everything,” she explained.
Chance The Rapper echoed that sentiment during a recent appearance on Kimmel, where Jimmy said Kanye was acting as Chance’s spiritual advisor. “He’s devoted right now. He’s well-versed in the bible at this point,” the 26-year-old said. “The Sunday Service and the album that comes out next week — I feel like I’m on Kanye’s press run right now. He’s talking about what I believe in, and it’s that Jesus is King. He’s spreading the good news.”
Even though the project sounds more like a Kanye West album than your typical gospel album, Yeezy won’t be cursing on his LP at all. As a 42-year-old father of four and born again Christian, Kanye is keeping his project squeaky clean and doesn’t get into anything inappropriate like you’d heard him on a “I Love It.” He’s even had collaborators like Minaj re-record their verses to make sure they fit his vision for the project. With West handicapping himself from a content standpoint, will he still be able to bring the lyricism that lives up to fans’ expectations?
Kanye’s pastor, Adam Tyson, said that West almost quit rapping because he thought of it as “the devil’s music,” as he was struggling to reconcile his relationship with his faith while maintaining his career as a recording artist.
The Possible Artwork
During the NYC Experience, Kanye West unveiled what he said to be the Jesus Is King artwork. The cover art features a sacred watercolor painting. On the other hand, West’s website and Twitter used a photo of a blue vinyl record depicting what could also serve as the Jesus Is King cover.
“JESUS IS KING”
OCT 25th pic.twitter.com/Ug4ghlQYk7
— ye (@kanyewest) October 21, 2019
Finding Solace in Wyoming
When you’re a celebrity of Kanye’s caliber, and now a father of four, finding quiet time is tough to come by. In the past, West has fled to Hawaii for a creative safe haven, which has led to some of the best work of his career. Last year, he seemed to discover solace in the greener pastures of Jackson Hole, Wyoming.
After tapping into newfound inspiration to craft five seven-track albums in 2018, West reportedly purchased a chunk of land on the Monster Lake Ranch for himself just outside Cody, Wyoming earlier this summer. Between holding Sunday Service there in September, having former manager John Monopoly and Rick Rubin join him, and a post from rapper-producer Pie’rre Bourne confirming he’s in Cody, it seems as if West tapped into that same source of inspiration once again.