Music Moment: Kanye West's 'Jesus Is King' After much delay and anticipation, Kanye West released his ninth studio album, titled Jesus Is King. Music critic Ivie Ani discusses of few of the album's songs.
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Music Moment: Kanye West's 'Jesus Is King'

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Music Moment: Kanye West's 'Jesus Is King'

Music Moment: Kanye West's 'Jesus Is King'

Music Moment: Kanye West's 'Jesus Is King'

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  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/773923240/773923241" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
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After much delay and anticipation, Kanye West released his ninth studio album, titled Jesus Is King. Music critic Ivie Ani discusses of few of the album's songs.

MICHEL MARTIN, HOST:

After several delays and a year of controversial remarks, musician Kanye West released his ninth studio album last week. It's called "Jesus Is King." We wanted to get a sense of what it's all about, so we've called on journalist Ivie Ani.

IVIE ANI: So I think I would like to start with the introduction called "Every Hour." And it's featuring the Sunday Service choir.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "EVERY HOUR")

KANYE WEST AND SUNDAY SERVICE: (Singing) Sing till the power of the Lord comes down.

ANI: And this off the grid is a very cinematic choice for an introduction to the album, obviously, given the gospel-themed genre. And I think that kind of pulls at the heartstrings of traditional gospel listeners because it sounds more like traditional gospel than the rest of the album. And it was a standout sonically.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "EVERY HOUR")

WEST AND SUNDAY SERVICE: (Singing) Sing every hour, every hour, every minute, every minute, every second...

ANI: It's a straight-up choir singing. There's no Kanye on it. There's no rapping on it. That segue into another song - like, "Follow God," where we do hear Kanye significantly on the record.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "FOLLOW GOD")

KANYE WEST: (Singing) Lifelike, this is what your life like, try to live your life right. People really know you, push your buttons like type write. This is like a movie, but it's really very lifelike, every single night, right, every single fight, right? I was looking...

ANI: And another thing we hear is his signature use of sample chopping.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "FOLLOW GOD")

KANYE WEST: (Singing) ...Your life like, riding on a white bike.

UNIDENTIFIED SINGER: (Singing) Stretch my hands to you...

ANI: And that's more in line with what people refer to as the old Kanye where he just used to chop old vintage samples, soul samples, sometimes gospel samples, R&B samples and infuse it with rap and hip-hop.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "FOLLOW GOD")

KANYE WEST: (Singing) Searchin' for a deity, now you want to see it free. Now you want to see if we, let's just see if three a piece, tell me what your life like, turn it down, a bright light.

UNIDENTIFIED SINGER: (Singing) Stretch my hands...

ANI: And on "Follow God, there's also remnants of the "Yeezus" elements from his prior album - the distorted screams and the isolated vocals with minimalist production. To see him employ some of those elements from that past album here is interesting. But I don't think that it's that riveting on this. And I'm curious as to how it will hold up 10 years from now.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "FOLLOW GOD")

KANYE WEST: (Singing) I said (screaming).

ANI: There is a track called "Closed On Sunday." And in the track, he references the restaurant franchise Chick Fil-A.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "CLOSED ON SUNDAY")

KANYE WEST: (Singing) Closed on Sunday, you're my Chick-fil-A. Closed on Sunday, you my Chick-fil-A.

ANI: And the song is getting attention because it seems like an endorsement of Chick-fil-A. And some people have criticized him for that already because of the company's documented history of being anti-LGBTQ and in support of Trump.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "CLOSED ON SUNDAY")

KANYE WEST: (Singing) Don't let them indoctrinate. Closed on Sunday, you my Chick-fil-A. You're my No. 1 with the lemonade. Raise our sons, train them in the faith through temptations, make sure they're wide awake.

ANI: And on the record, he even uses that metaphor, simile, example in an attempt to condemn social media. And the message of this track seems to be get off your phone and spend time with your family. But it's a very strange juxtaposition of Chick-fil-A and those concepts with social media. So it's just a strange song. But it is one of the more widely listened to songs on the project.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "CLOSED ON SUNDAY")

KANYE WEST: (Singing) ...Think twice stepping onto my land.

MARTIN: That was journalist Ivie Ani on Kanye West's latest album, "Jesus Is King."

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "CLOSED ON SUNDAY")

KANYE WEST: (Singing) ...Me and you will see that I ain't playing...

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