It has been a long road from Yandhi to Jesus Is King, but it appears the wait might finally be over soon. As Kanye West continues to travel around the country with his Sunday Service choir and hold multiple Jesus Is King: A Kanye West Experience listening sessions, we now have a better understanding of what to expect from his ninth studio album.
From early tracklists to release date changes and countless memes along the way, a lot has changed since Kanye first announced Jesus Is King. We attended two of his listening sessions, in New York City and George Washington University, and collected all of the information available to fans. Here’s everything you need to know about Jesus Is King.
The album’s new tentative release date is October 25
At Kanye’s Jesus Is King listening session that took place at George Washington University in Washington D.C. on October 12, he told the crowd that the album is expected to be released on October 25th, if he “likes it by then.”
The album was previously slated to drop on September 29 after missing its original September 27 date, but it has since been pushed back several times. His accompanying IMAX movie is also set to arrive on the same day, so it seems this might be a more
Kanye is still actively making changes to ‘Jesus Is King’
During the D.C listening session, Kanye played a song that he said he had been working on the night before, as well as a new verse that he said wasn't finished yet. This followed reports that one of the reasons Jesus Is King hadn’t dropped yet is because he keeps making small changes. Songs that appeared on the original tracklist that Kim Kardashian tweeted in September seemed to be altered as well. At the Chicago listening session, he didn’t play some songs like “New Body,” but then re-added them at following events.
In recent weeks, photos and videos have emerged from his home in Wyoming, which show Kanye (and collaborators like Pusha-T) recording new material for the album.
There will be no cursing on the album
“Excuse me if I mispronounce anything, I am a recent convert,” Kanye told the crowd at George Washington University. “It means I recently got saved within this year.” Because of this, there appears to be no cursing in the album at all. All early versions that have been played at the various listening sessions have not had any curse words and his Pastor has explained that Kanye doesn't like when people curse around him now.
“If somebody cusses in his presence, I’ve heard him say a couple of times, ‘Hey, man, you can’t cuss when you’re with me. I’m a born-again Christian.’” Pastor Adam Tyson told Pure Flix Podcast when discussing West’s newfound faith.
It seems that Nicki Minaj’s verse has been removed from “New Body”
Kanye has played “New Body,” a song that previously been leaked online, at multiple listening sessions. It also appears on the latest tracklist shared by Kim Kardashian on Twitter. Nicki Minaj’s verse is missing from the version he’s been playing at listening sessions, however. There has been some speculation this is because he doesn’t want any cursing on the album. There are rumors that he’s trying to get Nicki to re-record her verse, but that information hasn’t been confirmed.
Some of the lyrics are inspired by Kanye’s favorite Bible verses
In D.C., Kanye shared that his favorite Bible verse is Mark 1:15, before reading it in front of the audience. This verse is significant because it was the first time Jesus was recorded as speaking in the Bible, something that Kanye takes note of before he starts reading it.
The King James version of the verse reads: “And saying, The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand: repent ye, and believe the gospel.”
Kanye explained that various Bible verses informed each of the songs on the album. He also said that the King James version of the Bible is his favorite because “it has the word ‘ye’ in it a lot.”
He may have teased the album cover in New York City
At the New York City listening session, Jesus Is King imagery appeared on the screen without explanation. Kanye never explicitly told the crowd that the image will end up on the cover of the album, but it seems likely it will. You can see it below.
It sounds more like a Kanye West album than a traditional gospel album
One thing is clear after hearing Jesus Is King at listening sessions: This isn’t an album version of what you’ve heard at Sunday Service. The music has touches of choirs and organs, but it doesn’t sound like a traditional gospel album. Instead, sonically, it’s progression of what he’s been doing on projects like Ye, My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, and The Life of Pablo. Jesus Is King features more singing from Kanye than we’re used to (and significantly less drums), but overall, the production falls in line with what he’s done in the past. The big difference here is the lyrical content. He doesn’t hold back about his Christian perspective, directly giving advice like, “Follow Jesus, listen and obey.” He also addresses skepticism from the Christian community about this new musical direction on a song called “Hold On,” as he sings, “They’ll be the first to judge me, make me feel like nobody love me.”
The album is a made ‘as an expression of the gospel’
Despite it not sounding like a traditional gospel album, Jesus Is King was made as a reflection of Kanye’s newfound faith. At his New York stop for Jesus Is King: A Kanye West Experience, Ye told the audience, “This album has been made as an expression of the gospel—and to share the gospel.” He also said that the Sunday Service concerts that have been happening throughout the year has helped him get closer to God, leading him to fully converting to Christianity. Kanye says the names “Mary” and “Christ” within the opening moments of the first song, which sets the lyrical tone for the rest of the project.
At the Chicago listening session, Kanye announced that he is no longer making secular music, and will only release gospel music from now on.
“Closed On Sunday” is an early crowd favorite
Despite the religious lyrical themes, there are a couple catchy moments on the album that could become minor hits. During listening sessions, “Closed On Sunday” was the clear fan favorite. Making sure the simple hook (“Closed on Sunday, you’re my Chick-Fil-A”) was burned in everyone’s brains before they left the theater in New York City, Kanye even ran the song back and played it a second time.
Pusha-T and No Malice are reunited on the album, alongside Kenny G
At his first Jesus Is King listening session in Detroit’s Fox Theater, Kanye revealed that the Clipse (Pusha-T and No Malice) have verses together on “Use This Gospel,” which also features a Kenny G saxophone solo. Pusha-T was also in attendance at his George Washington University listening session and performed his verses on the song.
Kanye’s Sunday Service choir is responsible for some of the vocals
During the D.C. listening session, Kanye kept repeating, “These aren't samples, by the way. These are vocals from the Sunday Service collective.” He proceeded to have them sing the hooks live as the songs were played for the audience. We already knew that the collective would be involved in the album when the song “Water” was performed at Coachella earlier this year, and later appeared on the early tracklist Kim posted. The same song has been played at each of the listening sessions.