Initially titled Yandhi, Kanye’s latest album was set to release in September 2018, with a posthumous contribution from the late XXXTentacion, and a verse from hip-hop’s very own cartoon villain: Tekashi 6ix9ine. However, since September 2018, Kanye has seemingly scrapped the entire project in favour of another project, titled Jesus Is King. This news was followed by a claim by Kanye that he has no intention of ever creating secular music again, and the Chicago native professed that he was fully committed to creating Gospel music inspired by Jesus. However, like anything Kanye has ever done, there’s a lot more to it than meets the eye.
Between announcing Yandhi and proclaiming his refreshed appreciation for Jesus, Kanye has been involved in numerous controversies. On the day Yandhi was meant to release, Kanye made an appearance on SNL, which ended with a pro-Trump rant. Cast members and the general public alike were stumped, as it seemed that Kanye was actively trying to turn even his strongest fans against him. However, Kanye was just getting started. The following month, West visited the White House, and photos of the rapper embracing Donald Trump became the subject of ridicule online, sparking memes, but also immense outrage from the hip-hop community. However, in late October, West claimed he was distancing himself from politics, claiming that he had been ‘used’ by politicians. From then on, Kanye remained virtually silent, although he did appear on XXXTentacion’s posthumous release, ‘Skins’.
Since his online hiatus, Kanye has been touring his ‘Sunday Services’, a weekly concert that involves gospel reworks of some of his biggest hits, along with previously unheard music. Sunday Service has proven to be a phenomenal success, and subsequently, Kanye has scrapped Yandhi and announced a new album, titled Jesus is King, with an accompanying IMAX movie. The album and film were released on October 25th worldwide. This late decision begs the question: why the change of heart? Is Kanye trying to wipe the slate clean and encourage people to forget the mess that was late 2018? Is he trying to capitalise on the success of Sunday Service? Or has he simply made a creative and personal choice in which he truly believes? Again, like anything Kanye does, there may be more than meets the eye.
Nicolas Murphy – Music Writer