Yeezus or Jesus?

(Photo by Christopher Polk/MTV1415/Getty Images)

(Photo by Christopher Polk/MTV1415/Getty Images)

Kanye West is nominated the Vanguard Award for the MTV Video Music Awards of 2015. As he walks on stage after winning the award for having one of the most successful music careers, he stands on stage speechless for what seems to be two minutes. The crowd is cheering, everyone is on their feet clapping, and after a minute or so, the auditorium starts shouting, “YEEZUS! YEEZUS!”

Kanye remains silent for a few moments while accepting his praise and finally shouts, “listen to the kids!”

As a fan of Kanye, I was very happy to watch him receive the Vanguard Award of 2015. But, as a person with religious beliefs, I often feel my faith being challenged while being a Kanye West fan. Kanye has grown the reputation as being the artist with the biggest ego, and after his collaboration album (Watch the Throne, 2011) with Jay-Z he even gave himself the title of Yeezus. A title that’s often not given much thought, but to many can be considered as offensive blasphemy. Yeezus (being similar to Jesus) almost seems minor as compared to Jay-Z  who, for over a decade, has given himself the title as Jay-Hov (Jehova). So Kanye calls himself Yeezus, the savior of hip-hop, and Jay-Z has kept the title Jay-Hov without much notice and in their song No Church in the Wild (Watch the Throne, 2011) they claim that they are starting a new religion.

It’s not new for artists to claim titles that some may think are blasphemed. Michael Jackson is often referred to as the King of Pop, A$AP Rocky is commonly known as Lord Flacko, and others hold similar titles. But, should it be pushed far enough as to being referred to as Jesus and Jehova? Do fans fully support the titles? Or do a number of fans feel a wave of uneasiness towards the thought?

During the speech Kanye delivered this Sunday at the VMA’s, he stated, “I have died for this art!” One can easily compare this statement as a death of sacrifice for hip-hop, similar to that of Jesus in the Bible, only being that Jesus died to be the ultimate sacrifice for sin. In his song Send It Up (Yeezus, 2013) Kanye says in one of his verses, “Yeezus just rose again” as in reference to the resurrection of Jesus Christ in the Bible. Kanye has a high profile for using religion and comparisons to himself as a higher power in his music, and in his Yeezus album (2013) he states this shamelessly in his song I Am a God.

It pains me sometimes, because I truly love Kanye West as an artist. Although his songs may often sound angry or be filled with crude material, it’s songs like Hey Mama, Good Life, and his recent features such as One Man Can Change the World that keep Kanye West in my personal charts of greatest music artists. How much further will the conspiracies and mention of religion be used in music? Will Kanye’s title as Yeezus ever fade out? Do other fans with faith share similar difficulties with appreciating an artist because of the content in their music and titles they hold that target certain religions? One can only wait and see what the future holds.

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2 responses to “Yeezus or Jesus?

  1. Great analysis Stelzon. I enjoyed reading your post. You bring up cardinal issues with the usage of religious titles in pop culture, and how these titles empower the artist to push certain messages. Self-proclamation is not a humble way to achieve upper mobility of any sort, and humility is a characteristic that is most cherished in many, if not in every religion. However, interestingly enough prophets often are self-proclaimed connecting their authority directly to a numinous or sacred experience that revealed to them a message from God/Deity/the Devine. Has Kanye ever talked or sung about receiving a message or a call to save hip hop? Thoughts?
    In your inquiry about the future of Kanye West, it is interesting to think about how this self image of being “Yeezus” and “savior” will influence his decision to run for presidency in 2020.

    This also shows how malleable religion is to the point where it is absorbed and appropriated in a music genre such as hip hop.

    Great post Stelzon!

    Like

  2. Reblogged this on What you didn't learn in religion class and commented:

    Great analysis Stelzon. I enjoyed reading your post. You bring up cardinal issues with the usage of religious titles in pop culture, and how these titles empower the artist to push certain messages. Self-proclamation is not a humble way to achieve upper mobility of any sort, and humility is a characteristic that is most cherished in many, if not in every religion. However, interestingly enough prophets often are self-proclaimed connecting their authority directly to a numinous or sacred experience that revealed to them a message from God/Deity/the Devine. Has Kanye ever talked or sung about receiving a message or a call to save hip hop? Thoughts?
    In your inquiry about the future of Kanye West, it is interesting to think about how this self image of being “Yeezus” and “savior” will influence his decision to run for presidency in 2020.

    This also shows how malleable religion is to the point where it is absorbed and appropriated in a music genre such as hip hop.

    Great post Stelzon!

    Like

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