For some artists, a blown deadline is a problem. For *** Kanye West, it is a marketing opportunity.
After West missed aself-imposed deadlinea month ago to release his latest album, the gospel-influenced “Jesus Is King,” his fans went on high alert, tracking his every move and speculating about when, or whether, the album would ever come out. West further stoked the music and celebrity press by previewing the album at a series of public events, at which he portrayed the project as a major turning point.
“This album has been made to be an expression of the gospel and to share the gospel and the truth of what Jesus has done to me, ”Westtold a Manhattan crowdlate last month, after his first promised release date came and went. (To prevent leaks, fans’ phones were secured in locked pouches.) “When I think of the goodness of Jesus and all that he does for me, my soul cries out.”
Thursday, Apple’s Beats 1 online radio station broadcast a rambling two-hour interview in which West declared himself “unquestionably, undoubtedly, the greatest human artist of all time,” spoke about the roots of what he said was a “full- on pornography addiction ”and called his dispute with Drake“ painful, ”but barely talked about“ Jesus Is King. ”West thentweetedthat the album was coming at midnight… only to miss that deadline, too. (He was still working on a few songs, hesaidat 1: 18 am)
Around noon on Friday, “Jesus Is King,” his ninth LP, finally appeared on streaming services.
But the album’s chaotic rollout, and West’s evolving persona, may be as important as the music itself. It is the latest in a series of strange and fascinating spectacles that began three years ago with “The Life of Pablo” – an album he firstteasedat a fashion event at Madison Square Garden, thentweaked and revisedeven after it had been released to the public.
West ended his “Pablo” tour abruptly after several truncated performances, and was hospitalized for a “psychiatric emergency. ”Then came controversy over his public support of President Trump. And, in comments promoting his 2018 album “Ye,” West claimed thatslavery in the United States was “a choice.”(He laterapologized.)
Things have been quieter for West lately, as he has embraced religion and said that he stopped taking medication to treatBipolar disorder. The gospel themes on “Jesus Is King” draw on West’s recent Sunday Services events, which began as invitation-only performances but became part of mainstream culture when West brought one toCoachellaon Easter Sunday, in April .
The album features a gospel choir, performing with piano and organ, sometimes intermingled with hip-hop beats and rapping by West. None of its 11 songs has explicit lyrics . One track, “Use This Gospel,” features Kenny G, the smooth jazz saxophonist, whose involvement apparently came about after Westhired him to performfor West’s wife, Kim Kardashian West, at their home on
By Friday afternoon, “Jesus Is King” was being promoted on the streets of New York through at least oneroving purple busplaying the album through its speakers.
Friday may have been a particularly important deadline for West: That is the release day for “Jesus Is King: A Kanye West Film,” a 35 – minute Imax documentary that follows West through a Sunday Service performance at an installation in Arizona byJames Turrell, the visual artist k n *** for using bright, glowing light.
During his Apple interview on Thursday, West also announced another new album, “Jesus Is Born,” saying it would capture one of his Sunday Services. He even gave it a release date of Christmas, which fans took with agrain of salt.