I was fortunate to be invited to Kanye's last-minute album release party and viewing experience for his upcoming album "Jesus is King." The major buzz about this album is that it's Kanye's "gospel" album. Before I delve into that though, let me walk you through the night.
The event start a tad late (maybe 30 minutes behind schedule). Security locked up cell phones as people checked in. Once I got to my seat, I noticed the floor of the Forum was filled with random shrubbery and dim lighting. It was the calm before the storm. Once the IMAX portion of the evening began, the venue was filled with a booming sound that I'm sure could be heard a few blocks away.
The film was a portion of the documentary and played some all-time classic gospel songs. If you've ever been to a black church then all of the songs would be familiar. The film also featured some re-imagined version of a few songs from Kanye's underrated "808s & Heartbreak." I say all this to say that I was very unimpressed with the film experience. But that may because of my biases and attitudes towards religion. So I'll leave it at that.
When Kanye came out though the place went NUTS. Yeezy played through his album and it was as anticipated. Very focused on Christianity and religion, but not as Gospel as actual Christian rap groups, yet not as secular as Kanye's previous Jesus Walks.
His born-again Christian philosophy may be legit. There were a few songs I felt weren't complete yet, but a lot of cool ideas. It, even if briefly, separated Kanye from the controversy that he's been dealing with in the past year or so with his open (misguided) support of Trump.
There was ONE song got the Forum POPPPIN'. I was sitting with Kid Jay and he agreed that the song was hot. It was very reminiscent of the "Old Kanye" that many people know and love. Here's a clip some one managed to get from the night:
That being said it was the only song to really have that feeling. The other songs sound like another Kanye experiment. Which I personally trust Kanye's artistic expression, but I'm wondering if this 'Ye the Redeemed will be enough to win over critics of his previous work (and critics of his infamous antics).
The real question is are you willing to look past Kanye's past? Are you willing to forgive like we're compelled to by Jesus and Christianity? I think there's a meta discussion about what Kanye is doing. It's almost like he's forgiving himself and asking for us to forgive him as well.
"Jesus is King" is supposed to drop on Friday.