Rapper Kanye West has crossed a lot of lines with the gospel album “Jesus Is King,” but one thing has stayed the same — it started out on top.
The album debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 albums chart. That makes it nine in a row for West, who is tied with fellow rapper Eminem for the most albums to debut at the top, according to Billboard.
West’s change from his traditional lyrics to a public embrace of Christian faith has been the buzz of entertainment circles since the first cuts from the album appeared last month.
— billboard (@billboard) November 5, 2019
Fellow rapper Lecrae discussed the impact of West’s new album with Billboard.
He said rap music and faith are not always different worlds.
“Kanye is such a polarizing figure and his movements create ripple effects in culture, particularly music,” Lecrae said. “Traditionally gospel is seen as singing. Those of us Christians who rap were removed from the gospel charts on that technicality. His deeper impact is perhaps on the Christian rap community. There is a lot more intersectionality there.”
West’s embrace of faith adds a dimension to those who publicly show their love of Jesus that goes beyond traditional images of who, demographically, is a Christian, he said.
“Often people can’t imagine people from the hip-hop community finding Christ,” Lacrea said.
“We see this very Americanized Western Jesus and not a Middle Eastern man who can relate to the struggles that usually affect us,” he said. “So, this could be an opportunity for more people to see we love Jesus and 808s, fashion, and contribute to culture. People could see themselves in Kanye and therefore see themselves as Christ followers.”
The backlash that was triggered against West and the album was nothing unexpected, Lecrae said.
“There are many reasons outside of the music that people have for not liking the album,” he said. “Then of course there is a Kanye fan who wants to hear subject matter they can relate to. When a person trades misogyny and self-glorification for talking about Jesus on every track, that will guarantee scrutiny and disappointment.”
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