“When I was sitting in the studio with Kirk, Kirk Franklin, and we’re just going through it, I said this is a gospel album, with a whole lot of cursing on it, but it’s still a gospel album.The gospel according to Ye. It’s not exactly what happened in the Bible, but it’s this story idea of Mary Magdalene becoming Mary.”
Kanye West’s recent album, Life of Pablo, released February 14, 2016, is receiving lots of reviews and comments from Christians. A lot of debating topics coming up about the album, one concerning whether or not if the album is actually the gospel that it claims to preach. Kanye tweeted about The Life of Pablo saying that the album was a “hip-hop album, as well as a gospel album.” Rolling Stone says that the album is designed to sound like it is still a work in progress, “like an album of the struggle.”
Confirmed by Kanye. Life of Pablo has been thought of being an album about the Apostle Paul. The Gospel part is not what Christians are too sure about. Theoretically, some songs can fall under the category of being gospel music, but what about the drastic amount of cursing? The Life of Pablo does show that Kanye is leaning towards more faith-based ways and ideas. There are parts of the album where you can sense his fire for God, he may be Christain for all we know, but it is questioned because of all the cursing in his music.
The opening song on the album, Ultra Light Beam, is about Kanye’s faith in God. “The track establishes strong parallels for the Life of Pablo with the life of Paul the Apostle. Paul (also known as Saul) is credited with writing 13 of the 27 books in the New Testament of the Bible. Paul is considered as being one of the most influential people. Acts nine tell the story of when Paul was blinded by a light for three days and remained blind for three days, putting all of his trust in the Lord. The specific event in Paul’s life led him to stop persecuting early Christians and become a follower of Jesus himself.
“As he neared Damascus on his journey, suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him. He fell to the ground and heard a voice say to him, “Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?”
“Who are you, Lord?” Saul asked.”
“I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting,” he replied. “Now get up and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do.”
“The men traveling with Saul stood there speechless; they heard the sound but did not see anyone. Saul got up from the ground, but when he opened his eyes he could see nothing. So they led him by the hand into Damascus. For three days he was blind, and did not eat or drink anything.”— Acts 9:3–9, NIV
On January 27, 2016 at 2:54 PM (a month before the album’s release date), Kanye tweeted that “this album is actually a Gospel album.” Ultra Light Beams has a lot of Gospel and faith-based influences and chanted prayers. Kirk Franklin is featured on the song and says that Kanye is his “brother.” Kanye is “my brother that I am hammy to do life with.” Kirk says that “although Kanye had made mistakes, everyone is equal in the eyes of God. This is similar to the teachings of Paul.” The ending of Ultra Light Beam closes with an extended prayer. There is an extended version of Ultra Light Beam, called Ultralight Prayer, released March 27, 2016.
Kanye talks about how life is on the presence of God. Kanye actually says that he is a Christian with a life that is devoted to God. In Ultra Light Beam (at 3:17), he says that he is “never going to hell.”
Highlights also has a faith-based Christian message but takes a sharp turn with Kanye’s vulgar words. Highlights talks about the glory of God and reflects the career and accomplishments of Kanye.
Low Lights, also adds a Gospel theme to the album. Kanye is not featured on this track, but there is a vocalist preaching about God and spiritually connecting with him. It is an “emotional dedication to God.” Kanye tweeted that he put Low Lights on the album “just thinking about all the moms driving their kids to school then going to work.” Low Lights gives the picture of the belief of God by a woman and future miracles. “You want me to give you a testimony about my life, and how good he’s been to me/ I don’t know what to tell you about him/ I love him so much with all my heart/ And my soul, with every bone in my body I love him so much because he’s done so much for me.”- Vocalist on Low Lights. Low Lights talks about how God gives people the strength to go through life. Faith helps people in their walk with God.
In Father Stretch My Hand Pt 1 and 2, the focus is put on God, but is about one of Kanye’s relationships.
Feedback is about Kanye’s success and has been said to be “symbolic of the Gospels.”
Wolves, had a biblical influence referencing to Joseph. In Sia’s part she says, “I found you, oh Jesus.”
“This is a God Dream. This is everything.” – Kanye West (Ultra Light Beam)
Even though some of his song may be “good” from a Christian standpoint, the disappointments come in when Kanye starts dropping F-bombs, and use other curse words in his music. This album shows that Kanye is taking the right steps towards Christianity, but it is argued that because of his vulgar lyrics, he is not at the point yet. We do know once that Kanye actually sold his soul to the devil. No one really knows what is going on in Kanye’s life except him and God. He says that he has something as a “double mind.”
The Life of Pablo does give off many mixed messages. Messages between Christianity and the World. Christians view the album as being an oxymoron. You can tell that Kanye is going back and forth between a lot of ideas and emotions. There are many concerns with his music and lyrics. There is a conflict between Kanye’s ego and Lifestyle, and the need to put God first in his life. It seems as if Kanye is wanting a relationship with God, wants to do good, and help people, but is also wanting to still live is life the way that it is.In February Kanye tweeted, “My number one enemy has been my ego…there is only one throne and that’s God’s”.
In 2004, Kanye released a song called, Jesus Walks, which was his first pop song endorsing Christianity. In that song, Kanye reminds people that church is a hospital for the broken and for the sinners. He says “To the hustlers, killers, murderers, drug dealers, even the strippers, Jesus walks for them. To the victims of welfare, for we livin’ in Hell here, hell yeah, Jesus walks for them.”
“Would it be better if he didn’t mention his struggles with Christianity at all? Does the fact that he openly discusses Christianity along with any number of unsavory things make the lyrics more offensive?” – Jess Carey
“To all my Christian family, I’m sorry he’s [Kanye] is not good enough, Christian enough, or running at your pace..” – Kirk Franklin.
What are your viewpoints? There is a blurred line between what is right and wrong. People still want to be a follower God and still be a part of the earth. The question floating around now is, can you be a believer in God and still create profane music? Let us know what you think.