When Kanye West first announced he was now a genuine believer and that his next album was going to be a Christian album, I, like many Christians, was skeptical and honestly not expecting anything to come of it.
I’ve followed Kanye’s career off and on, but one thing has always been abundant throughout it – arrogance.
I’m not judging. I’ve been guilty of that too many times. But in his lyrics, he is always arrogant. He’s the top dog. He’s even called himself God in the past.
Since he announced his faith, he’s been interviewed many times, as has his pastor. Everything they say is not only in line with what a new believer would sound like, but it also comes with a genuineness.
It’s easy to be skeptical. Though, when we think about it, why? Why is it so easy? Do we think God couldn’t have possibly brought a man with such a past to the foot of the cross? I mean… Paul was out there getting Christians killed and he became the man God used to write a ton of the New Testament and help build the early church.
People are worried that he’s scamming Christians – just using us for profit – and that he’ll be back to his old ways soon enough. Is that possible? Sure. We kinda saw that with Mase. He was Murder Mase, said he found God, released a “Christian” album (which had a few good tracks, for sure), but then not too long after, he was Murder Mase again. I don’t know if he gave up the faith or just felt the pressure to go back to his old style of music, but it felt like a regression.
It’s possible Kanye will do the same. It’s possible the next album will be back to his arrogant ways and all of this will have been just a phase.
But why should I worry about that? I have no reason to believe he’s not being genuine. He’s still rough around the edges, but he’s clearly trying. He’s been the old Kanye for his whole life. Change takes time.
But even with all this, I never expected to be considering playing his music on Back Row Radio.
Then, “Jesus Is King” dropped. It’s not a long album and it’s not a perfect album. But there’s one other thing that it’s not: arrogant. In fact, many of the songs wind up being very self-deprecating. And the only one elevated in this album is Jesus. One lyric Kanye pens says that he bows down to God.
I never thought I’d hear Kanye say he’d bow down to anyone.
When interviewed, his pastor (who from all that I’ve seen and heard seems to be level-headed) said that Kanye came to him saying he was going to quit making music. Kanye said that the rap scene was evil and he’s been complicit in that. His pastor asked him if he’s heard of Christian rappers like Lecrae, Tedashii, Trip Lee, etc. Kanye appeared not to know that the CHH scene was even a thing.
His pastor encouraged him to use his gift and his platform for God’s glory, after all the years of doing it for his own glory.
I think his music showcases the heart change that comes with a relationship with Christ. I’ve seen enough to believe he’s genuine in his words.
And so, Back Row Radio will play a few tracks from the album. It was a decision made with much discussion and prayer.
We won’t be playing older Kanye stuff. We’re not going to elevate him above any other artist. But we are going to welcome Kanye West to the Christian genre with open arms, praying for his growth.
I know some of you will disagree with our choice (frankly, it would be much easier for us to ignore the album’s existence), but as a station lead by people who celebrate our own life recovery, and who have seen a countless number of “lost causes” come to Christ and do amazing things for the faith, lead by Jesus, we are going to choose to believe all of this is genuine, and thus worthy of rejoicing over.