What’s a Kanye West album rollout without a little drama?
After multiple feints and missed release dates, West’s latest full-length, Jesus Is King, has finally arrived. The album’s official release followed listening events in cities that included Detroit, New York City, and Los Angeles. West worked on Jesus Is King until the last possible moment — it was supposed to come out Thursday at midnight, but the rapper tweeted that he was still “fixing mixes” on three different songs.
Jesus Is King features vocal contributions from Clipse, Ty Dolla $ign, Fred Hammond, and Ant Clemons, along with saxophone from Kenny G. Numerous producers worked on the album, including Timbaland, Pi’erre Bourne, and Mike Dean, among others.
Jesus Is King marks the first West album since last year’s Ye. Though Ye debuted at Number One, it was the least successful commercial release of West’s high-flying career, and he planned to follow it quickly with a project titled Yandhi. The initial release date, September 29th, 2018, came and went without a new project, as did a subsequent release date of November 23rd, which had been announced by West’s wife, Kim Kardashian.
In January 2019, West suddenly changed directions: He began performing with a choir at events that he dubbed “Sunday Service,” often reimagining his own catalog with gospel arrangements. He’s been working with the gospel heavy-hitter Jason White, who served as the longtime minister of music for the West Angeles Church of God and Christ and won producer of the year at gospel’s Stellar Awards. And West has also courted the gospel power couple of singer Erica Campbell and her husband, producer Warryn Campbell, by bringing his Sunday Service to Warryn’s L.A. church.
In August, Kardashian once again helped her husband’s rollout efforts, sharing what appeared to be an album tracklist, a new title — Jesus Is King — and a release date of September 27th. Once again, the album failed to materialize as promised. Instead, West conceived a pair of events in Detroit on the date: a Sunday Service during the day and an evening premiere of Jesus Is King: A Kanye West Experience at the Fox Theatre.
“We just found out about it, actually,” a spokesperson for the Fox told Rolling Stone after West announced the premiere. “We usually don’t [book any events day-of], but it’s Kanye West — he can get away with anything.”
That Friday in Detroit, West told the crowd that he was still recording new verses for Jesus Is King. He performed at several similar Sunday Service events before announcing another release date for Jesus Is King on Monday via Twitter. West also participated in a lengthy, wide-ranging interview with Zane Lowe, which covered everything from his “pornography addiction” to his political ambitions to his relationship with Drake. West also called himself the “greatest artist in human existence.”
In addition to the long-awaited album, West’s new IMAX documentary, also titled Jesus Is King, will play in theaters on Friday. On top of that, West claimed to Lowe he will release yet another album, Jesus Is Born, on Christmas.
By ELIAS LEIGHT