Kanye, God of Rap
Through advancements in science and knowledge throughout the years, religion is becoming less an influence on people’s lives. Uncertainty is now being answered by math and science rather than spiritual reasons. This does not mean people are taking religion out of their lives but it is less of a factor for some. Rap music was originally a way of people to get out of poverty. And where there is poverty, there is religion to answer questions and problems. Because of this, rap is a very useful resource in looking at religion in the recent years including this year. Now through the evolution of the rap genre, the faith in and attitude towards religion has changed. By using lyrics from songs by Kanye West, a significant artist in rap, significant changes in the perspective on religion can be seen.
In 2004, Kanye expressed his positive feelings toward God and how God is always on people’s side by making the song “Jesus Walks”. Kanye uses examples of hardship in the intercity and showing how God is always supporting them no matter the hardship they go through. Kanye raps, “To the hustlers, killers, murderers, drug dealers even the strippers, Jesus walks with them. To the victims of Welfare for we living in hell here hell yeah, Jesus walks with them.” Kanye is showing his strong belief and support in God and his religion. Listeners could be more supportive of Kanye at this point in time. But while Kanye is showing his relationship with God, he still shows in “Jesus Walks” his arrogance and expressing his egotistical thoughts. Kanye raps ““Getting choked by the detectives yeah yeah now check the method They be asking us questions, harass and arrest us Saying “we eat pieces of shit like you for breakfast” relating detectives and degrading them to breakfast food. Kanye west strives to be on top just as many rappers do, and this drive will push him in the next 11 years to make small strides towards a more drastic idea.
In 2011, these drastic changes in religion and Kanyes’s belief in God start to occur. Kanye still believes there is a God but he bringing in the idea: Who do people look to when they don’t believe in anything? Kanye raps, “Human being to the mob, What’s a mob to a king? What’s a king to a god? What’s a god to a non-believer? Who don’t believe in anything?” In “Jesus Walks”, God is supporting everyone in hardship, but in “No Church in The Wild,” the “humans” in the hardship or “mob” don’t believe in god, so they don’t have anyone to look up to and follow their actions. He shows a rebellious idea towards God expressing how God has not been there for a lot of people including himself. In the song “Welcome to The Jungle” on the same album, Kanye raps, “Why I pray so hard, This is crazy God Just when I thought I had everything, I lost it all.” He is showing some loss of faith in God and is degrading him. Kanye doesn’t think God has done that much more than anyone else. Also in No Church in The Wild he introduces the start of his drastic idea by relating himself and Jay-Z to the trinity in the bible and creating a “trinity of rap.”Kanye raps “Jesus was a carpenter, Yeezy, laid beats Hova flow the Holy Ghost, get the hell up out your seats.” Kanye is trying to top every rapper by showing his beats as something godlike.
Now in 2012, Kanye made the album Good Music Cruel Summer where Kanyes drastic change in religion continues to take place by relating himself to God. A combination of the egotistical attitude of rap and Kanye’s loss of faith has influenced Kanye to equalize himself to God. First of all, the title of one of the song is “New God Flow” again relates his flow/rapping to God. Second, Pusha T opens the song “New God Flow” with “I believe there’s a god above me I’m just the god of everything else.” Pusha T believes there is a God, but he is the God of everything including rap. In the later versus, Kanye relates biblical figures to himself. Kanye raps “Did Moses not part the water with the cane? Did strippers not make an arc when I made it rain?” He relates to the story of Noah’s ark. Kanye is saying that he made it rain with money just as God did in biblical times. Kanye does not look at God as superior because he doesn’t believe God has done anything more important or impressive. In New God Flow, Kanye is God.
Even though Kanye West believes in God and in religion, the ambitious rap genre has played Kanye into rapping about another level and changing his idea about religion. Listeners are becoming more accepting of this outspoken type of music and being egotistical in rap is ok. Kanye has gone from showing how God is supporting him to being equal or better than God. Rap’s demeanor is very egotistical, always battling for a spot in a record deal or a spot to get on top of everyone else. Now, at least in his mind, Kanye is on top of God. In Good we Trust.