‘Wash Us In The Blood’ featuring Travis Scott is the first single from Kanye West’s upcoming album God’s Country. It continues religious themes from his disappointing 2019 album Jesus Is King. But, compared to Jesus Is King, ‘Wash Us in The Blood’ makes more powerful points about racial injustice, mass incarceration and capital punishment. The song was accompanied with a moving music video which contained clips of people on respirators, police violence and protests. The video ends with his daughter dancing, with his Sunday Service Choir in the background. This brings the video back to his key focusses: family and Christianity.
‘Wash Us In The Blood’ sounds very like Kanye’s 2013 album, Yeezus.
It uses industrial synths, and a two-tone siren sound throughout, reminiscent of ‘Send It Up’. He also uses a heavy vocal sample that calls on the likes ‘Black Skinhead’, also from Yeezus. This creates a dark atmosphere, that is intensified by real drums that break through the electronic beat twice in the track. Without this attention to detail, the beat would be bare and boring, but the subtle, seemingly unimportant, aspects of the beat are what make it so powerful.
Lyrically, the song fits the moody beat. Kanye is asking for God’s forgiveness, primarily on behalf of African Americans who, he argues, are often pushed into becoming “thugs” and drug dealers. He argues that slavery, mass incarceration and genocide are systemic causes of these issues.
“Whole life bein’ thugs,
No choice, sellin’ drugs
Genocide, what it does?
Mass incarce’, what it does?”
Travis Scott’s verse is very short, but he still manages to push an important message. He raps about the prevalence and immorality of capital punishment. Scott points out that almost 30 states in America still use the death penalty, and uses Christian teachings to argue that murder is always unethical.
With this thoughtful and interesting lyrical content and a well-produced ominous beat, it seems that Kanye has returned to form, after a general consensus that 2019’s Jesus Is King was a drop in quality. However, to me, it seems as though this single doesn’t pass Kanye’s own bar for a lead single. In a QC interview in May 2020, he claimed that ‘Power’ as his weakest ever lead single, because it didn’t provide anything that he hadn’t already produced.
“I always do the songs that people never heard before. But you had actually heard “Power” before. You heard “Crack Music.” You heard “Amazing.” You heard that song before! It’s just a mix of things”
‘Wash Us in The Blood’ does the same thing. It combines Yeezus’s industrial sounds with a Travis Scott feature. However, this is also not the first time the two have collaborated on an experimental, industrial hip-hop song. Travis Scott’s song ‘Piss On Your Grave’ did this in 2015, though in a more aggressive and less accessible way.
He has even covered a lot of the same content in the past. Most notably, he has discussed African Americans being pushed into drug dealing on ‘We Don’t Care’. Kanye West’s third verse explores feeling like people want to control him, or don’t want him to be himself. He has spoken about this throughout his career, for example in ‘Saint Pablo’ and ‘New Slaves’.
However, I don’t agree that doing something completely new is always the be-all and end-all. ‘Power’ is my favourite of his lead singles. ‘Wash Us in The Blood’ is what Kanye needed to release in order to show his fans that his Christian music can, in fact, be captivating, moving and interesting. Therefore, despite not being the most expectation-defying single of Kanye’s, it is a return to form.
Little is known about Kanye’s forthcoming album God’s Country, but in his aforementioned GQ interview, he covered 3 songs: ‘Wash Us in The Blood’, ‘Superman’ and ‘Ambitious’. All these songs will be on the album, but the release date is unknown. Follow CUB Magazine for more on Kanye West and other future releases.