So obviously in our digital age where information travels at the speed of light, this post about Kanye's album "Jesus Is King" that dropped a month ago, is perhaps more than just a bit fashionably late, "but I'm just glad that I made it". (I hope the Kenny G fans see what I did there)
At the urging of some friends of mine (thank you) I finally listened to Kayne's new album and wrote this post. I honestly don't know if I was reluctant to listen due to time and priorities, or if I was just conflicted internally, but it seems like ever since Tim Tebow it has become increasingly fashionable to rep Jesus as a marquee athlete or entertainer in America.
I have mixed emotions about this.
It has the potential to rep Jesus on a massive scale which fires me up. But if these celebrities are not careful, it puts the name of Jesus on the very fragile scaffolding of their character and thus their ability to actually represent Jesus by obeying him over the long haul, which is crazy hard for anyone. And my fear is that with all the pressure of money (which there are so many biblical warnings about), the cultural spotlight, and isolation (so many don't have strong Christian community and mentors to walk with them, disciple them, and help them grow and mature), that they are prime targets for the enemy to try to destroy their faith, and thus their witness to Jesus the King.
I can understand how the early brothers and sisters in the Jesus movement were skeptical of Saul of Tarsus (Acts 9:26), perhaps like some in the Christian community are skeptical of Kanye and his new found submission to the kingship of Jesus (an entire track is dedicated to this on the album), but I want to remind us in the Christian community that much like Saul, we never know how God is going to work in people's lives to bring himself glory (and besides, what does it matter? As long as Christ is preached - Phil 1:18). Indeed this is what God has done that in each of our lives, mine included, for "who am I to judge ... I'm as crooked as Vegas".
Now after those disclaimers, a word about the album "Jesus Is King":
Kanye, true to form, got my head bobbin so hard I thought my neck might break by minute 1 of the second track of the album ("Selah"). A beat so hard and so grimy drops over his lyrical weave of John's gospel proclamation of freedom that it transports me onto the ship Amistad ready to rise up in revolt as a melodic gospel choir harmonizes over my emotions ... "Hallelujah".
Hallelujah and Amen.
I can appreciate how real and vulnerable Kanye is on the album; honestly discussing his daddy issues (so many of us have those), how those in the Christian community are some of the biggest haters of him reppin' Jesus now (which unfortunately isn't that surprising), and his honest recognition that the devil use to have his soul. And most of all I applaud, am proud of, and encourage his honoring and lifting up of Jesus as the King.
I also liked how he seems to break with industry tradition (I mean who raps about Jesus in the mainstream?) to execute what I perceive as greater artist freedom and genuineness (à la Andre 3000), which might not be exactly my cup of tea (what can I say ... just give me that boom-bap with my trunk rattling like cans in the back), but I can appreciate the freedom of expression and the obvious confidence Kanye has to make music he believes in, not just music that will make him money or fame (which of course is obviously much easier to do when you have plenty of both).
All in all I thought the album has some great music and few great tracks in particular are killer. But most of all I want to champion people like Kanye from the sidelines through prayer and encouragement, that God will use them in powerful ways to bring himself glory, and like Paul, be ready to suffer for the name of Jesus.
I pray for you Kanye, and all those on a cultural pedestal with a cultural megaphone, that you will trust and obey Jesus ... and that Jezebel really doesn't stand a chance ... CHICK-FIL-A!