How NOT to write about music – 130. Kanye West


I have changed my mind. That is my prerogative. I have changed me mind. I cannot get enough of the new minimalist gospel from Kanye West.

I have listened to the blue vinyl and cassette Jesus Is King on a loop, stuck on repeat, on train journeys to Clapham Junction all this week, find myself sitting bereft because his sweet mellifluous tones are not gently chiding me and poking fun at Christianity. Seeking my fix. Only happy when I have got my fix. Jesus Is King is the crack cocaine of 2019 hip-hop, over so fast but oh such a sweet fix.

Even the Kenny G sax solo makes sense now. How could it not? It is both beautifully framed and truncated.

I do not need to believe that Kanye believes in Jesus or religion or however he views it. So he sings 11 songs in 27 minutes, and for this we are meant to view the album as unfinished somehow? The exact same criticism was leveled at the first Ramones album (wonderfully, Sire Records sent the songs off to be copyrighted, and the authorities returned them unsanctioned claiming them not to be songs but segments). Since when has brevity been bad in music? My way of reading this is that Kanye is not being lazy. He ain’t being mean, he’s just focused.

Kanye is attracted to religion for the same reason many are attracted to religion: as a diversion, as entertainment, as another way of spreading the message. Hell, might as well be Jesus is King. Or Kanye is King. Or whatever. Round and round the album ricochets in my head, a constant leap from one moment to the next, on a loop, songs never too long that I become bored, always searching for the next attraction, the next titillation. Does not hurt that I appreciate minimalism in music, his way of forceful rapping, human voices raised in sweet harmony, sped up vocals. Does not hurt that I love the way ‘Selah’ ends like a ‘Trapped In The Closet’ episode. The rhythm, the melody, the harmonies… these do not hurt either.

It does not hurt that he is still self-obsessed but supremely not self-aware. It does not hurt that the beginning of the deeply profane ‘Closed On Sunday’ reminds me of the spooky school choir from Harry Potter (always greatly undervalued). It does not hurt there is a…

All of Jesus Is King now works so hard, hurts so bad for me I am astonished that for even one minute I was an unbeliever. This is awesome. Album of the year and all that. Whatever. I don’t give a shit either way.

This track is the one that kills me, every time. Every time, it kills me.

Tomorrow I am sure it will be something different.

How NOT to write about music – 121. Kanye West


…wherein Kanye continues with his persecution complex, this time comparing what has happened to him with what happened to Jesus…

Again, the comments underneath the music tell you more about the music then the music itself (and this is one of the best moments from Jesus is King) (and let’s not overlook the inclusion of Kenny G here, but embrace it and admit that, as ever, the song would have been far better without the inclusion of Kenny G here) (and let us state here and now that while gospel music and Jesus can often lift previously unfocused artists to new heights of passion, Kanye does not sound inspired, does not sound impassioned on most of Jesus is King) (and this remains one of the greatest songs here, mainly for the urgency and repetition in the choral segments here, interspersed with some very nice percussive effects that sound like a door, or coffin, slamming shut) (and let us point out that much of this feels like an unhinged marketing gimmick the way much of Kanye’s work feels like unhinged marketing gimmicks even as you believe he believes he thinks it real) (but usually this does not matter, indeed often this leads to flashes of brilliance, genius) (and let us state those flashes are so far and few between here as to be non-existent) (and let us state that… you’re not reading this now, are you?).

Lyrics are utter crap.

As Kanye has it: it’s a hard road to heaven – but shit, he got a head start now, don’t he?

Let me state here and now, my personal bias.

  1. I do not believe in a God, or Gods – or rather, I do, but I do not believe Christianity has the exclusivity on God, or Gods. I prefer my Gods to live at the bottom of my garden alongside my spirit animal.
  2. I am not a fan of crap music, badly formulated and poorly executed.
  3. I like unfinished, but shit there is unfinished and unfinished. This is not raw or ‘real’. It’s just sloppy.

There are plenty of people who disagree with me, though. Remember folk, it’s a big and scary world out there. Man.

Comments below the YouTube video.

  • This song turned my yeezys into Jesus sandals
  • I like how this is Christian but is still Kanye
  • This whole album is a diss to the DEVIL.
  • Stay strong Ye. I know Hollywood is attacking you. They don’t like all this Jesus talk. We’re praying for you.
  • If God is with you who can be against you? none.
  • Damn….Kanye really going to make gospel music the new wave
  • I was saved by Christ 19 years ago – IT GETS BETTER EVERYDAY – JESUS CHRIST IS LORD!
  • May God give Kanye all the strength he needs a a servant of God. Amen.
  • If the priest ain’t blasting this on Sunday I’ll rage
  • “Who the son sets free is free indeed” hit me hard
  • “If you woke then wake up.”
  • “If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first.” John 15:18
  • This is what Christian grandmas gonna be listening to in 2080
  • As a Christian I love seeing what Jesus is doing in this man’s life. He can make a huge impact.
  • Finally a famous singer that’s stands up for God and hears His call
  • This song gets me pumped up to worship God!!
  • Kanye just went full on Jesus mode and I’m here for it
  • Glory belongs to the Lord alone. He is risen, and his kingdom is at hand.

Some hold that this is “fake Christianity at its finest” but that leads to the rather obvious question… what the fuck is ‘real’ Christianity?

God moves in mysterious ways, and sometimes she’s quite dull as well.

It still shits all over Bob Dylan though.

Jesus is King: the merch stallJESUS_IS_KING_CROSS_CREWNECK_SHOT_1_1100x

You’d have thought they could’ve found a clean pair.