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Kanye West’s ‘Jesus Is King,’ From the Gospel Perspective

Last week, Kanye West released his ninth album, “Jesus Is King,” and an Imax film of the same name. They were the culmination of several months of dalliances with religious music, consisting largely of weekly performances he calls Sunday Services, with a full gospel choir, near his California home.

The move has puzzled many, and triggered skepticism about what his motivations might be — whether it is sincere, or a way of ingratiating himself with the black community following his embrace of President Trump, or perhaps a way of rebranding his business model as a ministry.

How is West’s turn to religious music viewed by those in the gospel music industry? This week’s Popcast features insights from a pair of gospel music insiders who discuss how West’s pivot fits into a broader history of pop performers seeking refuge in sacred music, the specific gospel music that’s sampled on the album, and the commonalities and differences between “Jesus Is King” and other contemporary holy hip-hop albums.

On the Popcast:

  • Hasan James, publisher and editor of Root magazine, a gospel publication

  • Robert Marovich, editor of The Journal of Gospel Music and author of “A City Called Heaven: Chicago and the Birth of Gospel Music”

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