Kanye West. Rapper, husband of reality tv star Kim Kardashian and one of the most controversial artists of this time. There has never been any indication that Kanye would ever change, but God works in mysterious ways. He claims that he is still the same Kanye, however, I know fans would not say the same, and so becomes easy to question his drastic change to ‘a man of God’. Who is this man?
A man who previously sang the words ‘I sold my soul to the devil’ (eyes closed) against a backing track now seems to be spreading the word of God through his music. However, he seems to be creating his own version and meaning of religion, going as far as creating his own church with a gospel choir; an idea which has taken the world by storm. He somewhat creates another religion that goes against other beliefs of other religions, which was highly publicized in the 2019 Rolling Stone online article, saying “I don’t believe in a religion that has something against gay people, that has something against Muslims. That has something against Buddhists…I believe in absolute truth”. This makes the church which he promotes all the more real, as he encourages the acceptance of everyone, with no exceptions. This is what religion is supposed to do, bring people together. He has reinvented the meaning of church. However, it is said his church style events are invite-only, which excludes the world from really joining in, which brings into question – to what extent is Christ involved in this worship? And what type of worship is only available to the rich and famous? We question how welcoming this church and Sunday service really is. Kanye’s messages seem legitimate and inspiring, but the way he has reinvented church seems as though he has changed religion to suit him and his lifestyle. We are yet to see whether he is willing to change himself to fit religion and Christianity.
The use of the lyrics of ‘I am a god’ in his Yeezus album makes us question how Kanye sees himself. Most are already familiar with his big ego, but does he really see himself as a God? This blasphemous sentence goes against what many believe in. As he also refers to himself as Yeezus, one of the names of his albums, it remains a perversion of the noun Jesus, merging together the last part of his name ‘ye’ and Jesus = Yeezus.
There were many who were skeptical about this change, especially considering his past. Yet with the inclusion of Jason White, who is now in charge of the choir at Kanye’s Sunday service, he explains in another Rolling Stone article that he saw a change in Kanye. There have been some questionable actions to come from him, particularly involving the 2006 cover of Rolling Stone in which Kanye posed as Jesus with a crown of thorns on his head. This use of religious imagery is not the first amongst his career and will probably not be his last.
In 2016, however, Kanye suffered from a mental breakdown which could have led to this miraculous change. It is common for people to turn to God or to change the way they live their life after traumatic or intense experiences in life. You become a different person. Nonetheless, his answers to questions regarding his change and reformation are elusive and leave us in the dark. So how believable is this change? What does he seem to gain from this? In an interview with James Corden, he tells him that ‘God is using me as a human being to show off’. We know that everyone is entitled to their own way of thinking and opinion, but compared to the suffering that goes on in the world right now, Kanye’s suffering seems mediocre. Suffering is questionable for a man who is physically comfortable, especially with his large title and fame, but this is what seems to speak to audiences. The fact that this is an enlightening, teaching moment … that money can’t buy happiness or at least peace of mind. Kanye has purposely used suffering to deliberately exaggerate his ‘battles of life’ placed before him. He also believes that “‘he’(God) has always wanted to use me, but I think he wanted me to suffer more and wanted people to see my suffering and see my pain …so now when I talk about when Jesus saved me, more people can relate to that experience (in which he refers to his mental breakdown and how he was in debt)”. Yet this still remains contradictory if we consider Kanye’s power and popularity. After all, he has enough money to escape his problems, an option others simply don’t have.