The familiar sounds of a three-part chorus filled my bedroom as I did the first listen of Jesus is King. Anticipating the iconic gospel/rap mashup, I looked forward to something fully black with melodies over heavy beats. This album, however, missed the angst of “Jesus Walks,” the complication of “Ultralight Beam,” and the epic production found on My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy. JIK was light, lacking bass lines and specific supplications to God asking to keep Kanye West safe and hopeful. Instead, it delivered vapid lyrics (“When I thought the Book of Job was a job,”) or ’Ye talking about a time when he did not know Christ but apparently, he’s converted and healed and his work is done.
Kanye uses gospel music as a generally Christian genre—not as a musical experience sacred to black people’s theology of hope, righteous anger and liberation—to reel in white supporters and prove to them that black people can, too, believe in a God that aligns with the evangelical values of a self-sufficient faith that will shower us with wealth, success and health.