I haven’t listened to a hip-hop album in 13 years. And other than my friend Shope’s albums, I haven’t listened to a gospel hip-hop album in 10 years.
When I became a Christian in August 2006, I stopped listening to hip-hop within a few weeks because most of its content appealed to destructive, deadly passions in my heart.
And I stopped listening to Christian hip-hop 3 years after that, because I believed that it was in danger of losing some of the praiseworthy, distinctive things that made it a good alternative to most of secular Hip-Hop.
So I hadn’t listened to a hip-hop album for over 10 years. That changed after 27 minutes last Sunday night. I’ve been listening to JESUS IS KING all week, and I’ve enjoyed it. I’ve listened to the entire album around 10 times now. I especially enjoy songs like “Selah, “Closed On Sunday”, “Water”, and “Use This Gospel”.
Nevertheless, JESUS IS KING is probably not Kanye’s best album. His first two albums, College Dropout and Late Registration are a better showcase of his talent, though I do not recommend them. And JESUS IS KING isn’t the best Christian Hip-Hop album of all time. That honour belongs to Flame’s 2007 album, Our World Fallen.
JESUS IS KING isn’t Kanye’s most well-written album. And it isn’t the most theological Christian hip-hop album. But considering how infamously moody and prideful Kanye West is, JESUS IS KING is his most joyful, humble, and refreshing album yet. And though the album isn’t the best Christian hip-hop album of all time, JESUS IS KING is absolutely it’s most interesting album yet.
The album is interesting for two major reasons. It’s interesting that Kanye might be responsible for renewing interest in Christian hip-hop. JESUS IS KING is already the most popular Christian hip-hop album of all time, and it’s released at a time when Christian hip-hop is essentially dead―after major Christian rappers distanced themselves from the “Christian” hip-hop label.
But what makes JESUS IS KING most interesting is that it appears be, simply, Kanye’s testimony of his new faith in Christ. And that’s elicited quite the reaction Christians.
Some of us are skeptical of the genuineness of Kanye’s faith. And that isn’t necessarily wrong. The fruit of genuine repentance is perseverance in faith to the death or the coming of Christ. We cannot know for certain the genuineness of a person’s faith, especially when they are apparently new believers.
Most of the people who professed new faith in Christ alongside me 13 years ago have stopped living for Christ. The Parable of the Sower explains that many people who profess to follow Christ will ultimately abandon him in time for a variety of reasons. So it’s not necessarily wrong to consider that perhaps Kanye’s faith isn’t genuine.
However, it would be wrong if we’re skeptical about Kanye’s faith because of who he is. I mean, if Kanye wasn’t kanye, if Kanye wasn’t a celebrity, if Kanye didn’t have his infamous reputation, would you be skeptical about his profession of faith in Christ? If Kanye was just a no-name, homeless guy with zero influence and zero potential to harm others if his faith is later proved to be insincere, would you be skeptical of his testimony?
I do not know for certain if Kanye’s faith is a genuine. But I know the same was said about me when I professed faith in Christ. When I became a Christian, many of my friends, including my closest friend at the time, told me I would return to my old ways in no time. They told me I was too sinful to truly repent. They told me it was impossible for me to change.
And though I still struggle with many of the sins that were precious to me before God saved me, my faith is genuine. And until proven otherwise, I’ll believe the same is true for Kanye. Hollywood isn’t outside the realm of God’s grace.
We should be joyful about Kanye’s apparent repentance and faith in Christ. However, a friend of mine recently said: “are we praising God for saving Kanye, or are we praising Kanye for choosing God?”
We tend to celebrate the creature over the creator, and it’s easy for us to celebrate Kanye’s faith over Christ’s grace. It’s hard for rich people and celebrities to enter the kingdom of God. It’s surprising that a celebrity like Kanye would choose to follow Christ. However, it’s also surprising that teenager in your church chose to follow Christ. It’s surprising that poor people choose to follow Christ. It’s surprising that people all over the world choose to follow Christ. It’s surprising that we, me and you, chose to follow Christ. And that’s because before the foundation of the world, God chose to write famous names and unknown names in the book of life.
Kanye West’s faith in Christ doesn’t validate our faith in Christ. Kanye West isn’t an apologetical resource. Christ doesn’t need Kanye. Kanye needs Christ.
Kanye West is just a sinner with a saviour. We should all remember his lyrics in “Hands On”:
“I deserve all the criticism you got, If that’s all the love you have, that’s all you got, To sing of change, you think I’m joking, To praise His name, you ask what I’m smoking ,Yes, I understand your reluctancy, yeah, But I have a request, you see, Don’t throw me up, lay your hands on me, Please, pray for me.”
Jesus is king, and Kanye is just his servant.