Kanye West’s new album, ‘Jesus is King’ is dominating my timeline- only because of my white, evangelical friends and followers.
I truly love Kanye West and everyone who has posted about his new album since its release. I also rejoice for anyone affected, inspired or changed by Kanye’s words. Undoubtedly, goodness and truth reign throughout the lyrics of the album. I am not here to bash Kanye. But, I feel the need to address a prevalent issue in the promotion of his music.
Many Kanye supporters have simplified the situation by remaining complacent to the nuanced factors involved in West’s existence as an artist.
I did not know how to feel upon hearing Kanye West, a MAGA hat-wearing friend of Donald Trump and disappointment to the black community, released a gospel album. At first, I felt guilty. What kind of Christian would not feel elated that a profane rapper who once disassociated himself with God has turned his life around, proclaiming ‘Jesus is King?’
However, the situation is more complex than this seemingly simple question.
I lost respect for Kanye the minute he minimized slavery. Specifically, he said “When you hear about slavery for 400 years … For 400 years? That sounds like a choice.” A choice. As an icon with a significant voice in pop culture, Kanye willingly became an international embarrassment for many in the black community.
He put on a MAGA hat, aligned himself with hyper-conservative people, became friends with Donald Trump and inevitably disassociated himself with black culture. So, when he released a gospel album I, along with many other black Christians, was skeptical.
The entire ordeal seems strange, and quite honestly political.
Anytime a single demographic promotes an album, movie or idea, we must ask the question “Why?” Why are Christians applauding West while he continues to promote a clear political agenda? Why are Christians content that Kanye has not apologized or repented for any of the hurtful and racist comments he made in the past and continues to speak today? Why are Christians ignoring the clear racial implications of promoting this album while their brothers and sisters in Christ feel uneasy about the situation?
Without a critical analysis of these questions, willful ignorance will inevitably follow close behind a perceivably positive movement.
While I do not speak for all black people, I have noticed many black Christians are not posting or even listening to ‘Jesus is King.’ I know it would be naive to think all Christians should have the same opinion on any issue, but if something seems problematic to an entire group of Christians, it should matter to all of us.
I am not a believer in cancel culture, especially when it comes to navigating the Twitterverse. In my book, there is always room for forgiveness. But, white evangelical Christians must realize Kanye’s relationship with Black America has deep roots and travels far beyond what some would perceive as simply “canceling” a pop-culture icon.
While many rejoice in Kanye’s conversion, I would argue that in many ways Kanye is the same person today as he was a year ago. The notion that Kanye has changed his entire life since the release of this album is misinformed.
The day his album dropped he implied in an interview that black people are “brainwashed” by Democrats who made them “abort their children.” West seemed more concerned with political motivations rather than his newfound faith.
Additionally, he seems to have the same egotistical attitude as before. While he admits he “ got caught up in [his] ego,” he also said he does not need to apologize for offensive statements made in the past.
“I’m the founder of a 3 billion-dollar company,” West said. “You think I’m finna listen to somebody online tell me who I’m supposed to apologize to?”
As mentioned previously, I do not hate Kanye West, and I applaud his faith, but there is a reason the white, evangelical, conservative-minded community places this album on a pedestal.
I have listened to a few of the songs on the album and the messages are good. I am glad his words are reaching people. Still, as a Christian, Kanye should apologize for his past actions and work to redeem his relationship with the black community.