KanYeezus:<br />
Rap Manâs Got a God Complex

Rap Man’s Got a God Complex

Joshua Adams travels Mr. West's musical relationship with religion

by Joshua Adams, July 10, 2013

KanYeezus:<br />
Rap Manâs Got a God Complex

Kanye West

of his time. He went against convention, preaching love and grace as the keys to salvation, not robotic adherence to rigid religious law. People called Jesus' teachings blasphemous, just as people have (and certainly will now) call West. The rapper fancies himself one who speaks "the truth," while Christ is known as the physical and spiritual manifestation of what is ultimately known as "the truth." Both took the traditions they were born in, challenged, and redefined them. Jesus was martyred, literally, while Kanye feels he is martyred figurative, through intense media scrutiny and paparazzi waiting to pounce on every miscue.

But Kanye's "Jesus plus Yeezy equals Yeezus" arithmetic doesn't sit well with many Christians. For them, Jesus's religious, and spiritual meaning cannot be isolated from an artistic one, and West's comparison between what he does for culture and Jesus did for humanity is arrogant, and blasphemous, since West is known to be a Christian.

Taking a giant leap further into hypocrisy, Ye claimed deity status with songs like "I Am A God" (which his W interview revealed to be Ye's diss to the fashion world for snubbing him at Paris Fashion Week). Lines like "I am God/even though I'm a man of God" seem like a vague attempt to mediate his own ego. And hardcore, sexually profane songs like "I'm In It" ("Eating Asian p*ssy/all I need is sweet and sour sauce") could leave some listeners questioning his "piety" even more.

But the larger irony of West's use of religious images, and his art in general, is that he strives to be iconoclastic despite the fact he is a massive icon. He criticizes (justifiably or not) mainstream America, but heavily contributes to it. As an artist signed to Def Jam, who also works with Nike and Louis Vutton, the hypocrisy of denouncing corporations in his lyrics but embracing them in his actions leaves some critics, like Power 105 personality Charlemagne The God, calling Ye' a "fake revolutionary for profit." 

The majority of us however, have probably landed somewhere in the ambivalent middle about the album: not really buying Yeezus figuratively, but appreciating the music enough to get over it. For many, West's musical genius reconciles the abrasive nature of his lyrics—and the muddled themes in his message. 

"I am a god. Now what?"

Joshua Adams is a writer and teaching artist from the South Side of Chicago. He is currently working on his M.A. in journalism at the University of Southern California.


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hip hop Rap kanye west
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