Discussing
Get Behind Me, Yeezus!

John J. Thompson

TimF
June 25, 2013

So West sings trash and a lot of people listen to him? Nothing new here, for him or for culture at large.

Paul Q-Pek
June 25, 2013

Once again John has hit the nail on the head. Music and artists have the power to shape the worldview of young people. Many artists have had a great impact on me. As we grow older we are better able to discern the difference in the artistic merit and the message. It is sad to think that many impressionable folk will be led down Kanye's warped path..........Two truths, Kanye........1. There is a God......2. You are not Him.

JC
June 25, 2013

I agree with Tim there. One has only to look to Kayne's Jesus Walks song to know he was full of crap. At this point his lyrics and behavior far outweigh any value of listening to his music and Im glad someone had it in them to listen to it. I listen to 30 secs of two songs and wanted to forget I ever heard it.
Kayne calls himself a God much like Xerxes of the 300 he tries to speak about but Xerxes was later defeated and then murdered by his own bodyguard.

Josh Larsen
TC Staff
June 25, 2013

Kanye West's Jesus Walks is probably one of the most compelling mainstream songs about Christianity I've ever heard (oh, and musically, it's just plain brilliant). There is real struggle in the lyrics, between the recognition of a need for the saving grace of Jesus and an angry defiance that couches its anger in questionable Jesus speak. Unfortunately, on Yeezus, the latter seems to have completely taken over. I've long listened to West hoping for the song where he'll embrace the saving grace instead. Perhaps it's yet to come. If it does, I hope those who are so condemning of him now will be happy to hear him sing it.

TimF
June 25, 2013

I don't condemn West at all, Josh. In fact, I don't see what all the fuss is about. He says a lot of the same things other singers have said over the years.

In fact, he says a lot of things that describe my own attitude at times, because I can forget that I'm not God on occasion too.

Cheers,
Tim

Marta L.
June 25, 2013

I've only had a chance to listen through the songs once, and I usually need at least three or four times before I feel like I really "get" them, so I'm hesitant to comment publicly. But I wonder whether some of the commenters here and at FB (and perhaps John himself?) aren't taking these songs a little too literally.

Read superficially they may seem to be saying that Kanye is the new God, but he also repeatedly refers to himself as a man of God, and he describes God as looking out for him in particular. What I see is a man of God who is treated <i>as</i> a God and is struggling with the temptation to give in to that treatment. In fact, in some places (I'm thinking the second verse of "I Am a God" in particular) Kanye seems to draw a pretty clear parallel with the Tower of Babel. "I know he the most high, But I am a close high, Mi casa, su casa [my house, his house]." These are the words of someone struggling with the idea that to many people he has become a god, so that he can demand his massage, menage, and Porsche in the garage, and then get angry when it's not delivered quickly enough. But at the same time he wants to put distance between himself and the One True Good. In fact, for a true man of God, I suspect those appetites would be unsettling. Imagine to have people looking at your every move, turning you into an idol, and having to balance that responsibility against very human desires.

It's actually a very spiritual and personal message, or seemed like it to me. And in our days of super-powerful technologies, I think we all need to be reminded that we're not God, even though it can seem like our power has fewer and fewer limits. Even if that's true, our desires still aren't good, so humility is called for.

Marta L.
June 25, 2013

Rereading my comment, I realize that something I said above may be misleading. When I said Kanye wanted to "put distance between himself and the One True God," I only meant he's looking for a distinction. His words make me think he doesn't <i>really</i> want to be God, even though at times he demands that others treat him that way. I didn't mean put distance in the sense of someone running away from God, like a Jonah or someone.

I thought that could be misleading, so I wanted to be a little clearer. :-)

Esther Aspling
June 25, 2013

A wolf in sheeps clothing. It makes it hard to choose music when the sound of total crap is so good, and the sound of a decent message is child's play.

EricT
June 25, 2013

Wow, all this piece did was make me want to buy the album.

EricT
June 25, 2013

This strikes me as just right, at least according to what little I've heard by and read about West and religion. He's surely arrogant, but he's also (sometimes) *aware* of that persona. And that persona is arguably more about his status in hip-hop and art than his religious self-understanding, at least according to one reading: http://edge.ua.edu/monica-miller/god-of-the-new-slaves/

Now, I'm just waiting for the Bono love-fest after his interview with Focus on the Family drops.

John Joseph Thompson
June 28, 2013

Interesting comments. I am all about trying to not take things literally that are meant to be metaphors, and I agree that on a track like "I Am A God" it seems that Kanye is somehow mocking his own arrogance, but that doesn't remove the culpability for using such terrible rape / sexual assault / hate language. Seems like a thug making fun of himself for robbing a guy. Some things can't be just turned into a joke - or at least shouldn't be.

He's free to do it, no doubt, but I'm free to call foul too.

If his spiritual struggle is more than just lip-service, then I pray he finds healing and humility. But if the Bible is right that "out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks," his heart seems to be full of a lot of darkness.

JC
July 10, 2013

Im late coming back to the party.

I will say reading my comments over again. I do sound condemning, and I probably was a little bit. I think part of me is angered that such good music is wrapped around such a terrible message. So thats my bad.

I agree with John in his comment about Kayne's culpability regardless of how he feels. He is a man, and if he is indeed a man of God, which one could question, based on what comes out of his mouth and his actions, he is held accountability not for just himself but for others he may lead astray.

If Kayne is indeed struggling with his fame, although he did bring it on himself, he's a human and that struggle would engulf most men. I would much rather hear is struggle in a raw form, that didn't include sexual innuendoes, or harsh or brash use of language. I don't need to hear about a rape to hear a heartfelt message of struggle. It makes the message all that more difficult to take in.

To Eric's point about the persona. Yes his persona is about his status but it still doesn't relieve him of responsibility of said persona. One could argue though he's just competing with Jay-Z who has on occasion played with the almighty title, in songs such as Izzo (H.O.V.A.) - while it can mean many things to many people and I'm sure Jay-Z meant it to be that way, he still flirts with hova which is short for Jehovah or God. So there can be an argument that is all fluff meant to compete on a marketing, status level.

In the end I agree with John. He is free to do, but Im free to cry foul.

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