The release of Kanye West’s ninth album, “Jesus is King,” was originally scheduled for release on September 27. After a number of delays, the album finally dropped on Friday. As advertised, it was saturated in Christian themes. Here are the top 10 lines from the much-anticipated album.
10. All my idols, let ’em go. All the demons, let ’em know. This a mission, not a show. This is my eternal soul.
Throughout his public life, West has developed a reputation for being erratic and unpredictable. This line from “God Is” makes clear that West’s profession of faith is no joke or ploy for attention. The album isn’t for show. It’s a mission with deadly serious stakes: the eternal soul.
West expanded on this in an interview with Zane Lowe just before the album’s release. Asked by Lowe whether he has a desire to convert people, West responded, “It’s not a desire. It’s my only mission and calling to spread the Gospel. When I make a song, it’s to spread the Gospel.”
9. And all my brothers locked up on the yard, you can still be anything you want to be. Went from one-in-four to one-in-three.
This enigmatic lyric from “On God” proclaims hope to black men who’ve been to prison (the message applies to every race, but the one-in-four statistic is a reference specifically to black men) that they can be redeemed from their sin by giving their life to the one-in-three, the triune God: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
8. Every knee shall bow. Every tongue confess. Jesus is Lord. Jesus is Lord.
This is an unbelievably brave line to sing. Isaiah 45:23 is not a verse for the lukewarm. This verse describes the reaction of men and women when the day comes that they’re face-to-face with God. Every knee shall bow, those of believers and unbelievers alike.
The believer’s knee will bow out of reverence and honor, while the knees of those who die in unbelief will involuntarily buckle before the holiness of the God they spent their life spurning. Kanye is going straight for the heavy stuff.
7. I bow down to the King upon the throne. My life is His, I’m no longer my own.
What a change in tune from songs and interviews earlier in West’s life in which he called himself god. Here, West signals his unconditional submission to the One who redeemed him and unconditional abandon of his selfish ambitions for the betterment of the Kingdom of God.
To Lowe, West talked about having a Nebuchadnezzar moment after becoming a Christian when he realized he wasn’t the one in control: “Nebuchadnezzar was the king of Babylon and he looked at his entire kingdom and said ‘I did this.’ And God said, ‘Oh for real? You did this?’ Sounds kind of similar, right? I’m standing on the top of the mountain [at my concerts] talking about Yeezus, saying ‘I did this. I’m a God.’”
In Daniel 4, after demanding to be worshipped as a god, amid other tyrannies, Nebuchadnezzar was stripped of his kingdom and went insane before repenting and acknowledging that God is the one who is sovereign over all earthly kingdoms, at which point his sanity and throne were restored to him. While it may have been arrogant to verbalize it, it’s not hard to see why Kanye identifies with the Babylonian king.
Later in the interview, West explained how what used to be a passion for his own, vain kingdom is now a passion for God’s. “For me to be able to work only for the church—You want to talk about my 20-year vision, that’s my 20-year vision. Everything that I do is for the Church. Even designing a shoe. Even all the shoe names. Our shoe names will be like John 3:16s instead of [Yeezy] 350s. Everything is for the Church.”
6. You going to do what Adam do? Or say, ‘Baby, let’s put this back on the tree’ ‘cause we have everything we need.
In Genesis 3, rather than correct his wife, Adam joined her in rebellion against God. Rejecting God’s standard of right and wrong revealed to them by His spoken words, Adam and Eve desired to test the authenticity of God’s revelation for themselves. They fell prey to the Devil’s tempting, “You will not certainly die, for God knows that when you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”
They desired to create their own standard of right and wrong rather than submit to God’s, and test whether His warnings of death were accurate rather than agree with His revelation of the truth to them. They traded God-centered morality and epistemology for man-centered morality and epistemology.
In the song “Everything We Need,” West exhorts listeners not to seek their own standards of morality and knowledge but to submit to God’s, rejoicing in God’s care for His people, supplying them everything they need.
5. To sing of change, you think I’m joking. To praise His name, you ask what I’m smoking. Yes, I understand your reluctancy. But I have a request, you see. Don’t throw me up, lay your hands on me, please pray for me.
Previously in the song “Hands On,” West addressed Christians who’ve rejected his profession of faith. His reaction to their adverse judgements is a plea for their prayer—“don’t throw me up, lay your hands on me, please pray for me”—an incredibly mature response.
In the constant spotlight is not an easy place for a new and high-profile Christian to be. West is going to make mistakes. Rather than tear him down for them, West is asking those who are in Christ to pray for him, that he may learn and grow in sanctification.
4. I can’t keep it to myself, I can’t sit here and be still. Everybody, I will tell ’til the whole world is healed.
In “God Is,” West expresses the heart of the evangelist. How can someone who’s been turned from sinner to saint, lost to found, hopeless to full of certain and overflowing hope keep quiet about the God who provides that hope?
Anyone with any knowledge of pop culture knows that West has been in bad places mentally and spiritually for a long time. But he’s healed now, and he wants the world to know who healed him, that they might be healed too.
3. All the captives are forgiven. Time to break down all the prisons. Every man, every woman. There is freedom from addiction.
Numerous Bible verses describe sin as a slave master. Apart from Christ, there is no hope of escape from the prison of sin and its effects: death and damnation. But Christ sets sin’s captives free, a dynamic West touches on in the song “Selah” by quoting John 8:36: “Whom the son sets free is free indeed.” In light of Christ’s work, the people of God are empowered to share the gospel, breaking down the prisons that formerly held repentant sinners.
2. Cut out all the lights, He the light.
Among West’s biggest hits is his 2010 song “All of the Lights” which reached triple platinum sales in 2013 and for which West won two Grammy Awards. In the opening line of the first verse of “Hands On,” West communicates a forsaking of personal ambition out of a desire for the true light of the world to shine, the light that doesn’t bring mere worldly accolades but eternal redemption to the Creator through a washing away of the sin that separates us from Him.
On the subject of washing away…
1. Everybody wanted Yandhi. Then Jesus Christ did the laundry.
“Jesus is King” is West’s ninth album, but it wasn’t supposed to be. “Yandhi” was scheduled for release in September 2018 before being scrapped. Why? The direction of West’s life changed. Numerous Bible verses describe spiritual regeneration as having one’s sins washed away. Even more applicably to the song, Revelation 7:14 depicts the redeemed of God as those whose robes have been washed white in the blood of the lamb.
Where he would’ve continued making music glorifying sin, West now glorifies God. In the words of rapper Shai Linne, God “takes blasphemous lips and turns them into instruments for His praise.” Hallelujah.