Kanye: let the Rappers cry out

But some of the Pharisees among the crowd said, “Teacher, rebuke your followers for saying things like that!” He replied, “If they kept quiet, the stones along the road would burst into cheers!” But as he came closer to Jerusalem and saw the city ahead, he began to weep. Luke 19:39-41(NLT)

Kanye West, controversial megastar rapper, has produced and released a new album called Jesus the King, and yes, it’s all about Jesus. This is the same Kanye who not so long ago declared, “I am a god, I don’t think there’s much more explanation...I am a god. Now what?”

Now what indeed? Just last year his reality show wife, Kim Kardashian, stated Kayne had accepted the reality of his bipolar diagnosis, “I think we’re in a pretty good place with it now. It is an emotional process, for sure. Right now, everything is really calm. But we can definitely feel episodes coming.”

Some are wondering if this “turn to Jesus” album is nothing more than a manic episode that will quickly, or perhaps slowly, dissolve into another phase of a troubled mans journey. I don’t believe that an encounter with Jesus can result in anything other than a hallelujah, like Bob Dylan’s …

I remember in my youth the excitement over Dylan. For years I emotionally hung on to his stirring lyrics. The song “Gotta Serve Somebody” particularly moved me as much for the fact that a cultural icon had validated my beliefs in an attempt to popularize them in mainstream culture, as for the spiritual warmth that filled my heart when I would listen to it. 

But, almost as quickly as his public and prophetic declaration, came his renunciation and rejection of his faith. It was always there, that question of whether anyone with his fame and fortune could stand the pressure of a disbelieving public and a judgmental Christian community. In his song “I Believe In You”, Dylan addressed it full on in a haunting and plaintive song, transparent about the shallow foundations of his newfound faith in Jesus Christ.

They ask me how I feel
And if my love is real
And how I know I’ll make it through
And they, they look at me and frown
They’d like to drive me from this town
They don’t want me around
’Cause I believe in you.
They show me to the door
They say don’t come back no more
‘Cause I don’t be like they’d like me to
And I, I walk out on my own
A thousand miles from home
But I don’t feel alone
‘Cause I believe in you.

I can’t judge an individual faith or belief or know how Dylan feels about Jesus today, but I know that in the summer of 79 his anointed words were born of God’s spirit and still minister to me today.

Is Kanye for real? Will this stick? Is this another bi-polar phase of his life?

Twittershpere is already abuzz with speculation and doubt. Those for, those against. There’s word that Joel Osteen has invited Kanye to come to Lakewood and swirls of rumor, innuendo, fear and loathing. I turned off the noise for a few hours and just listened to Kanye’s new music and absorbed the words the man wrote.

He kicks off his album with Every Hour, a high octane gospel quick step imploring us to ‘Sing ’til the power of the Lord comes down…’ I was ready…

The anthem of Selah, the second cut, features his rapping a personal testimony over a Hallelujah chorus.

Ok, I’ve got my Doctorate in Theology and I am singing Hallelujah…

Rap is not my genre, but I can’t stop listening gladly because the anointing and joy of my 14 year old soul that Dylan inspired is inspired afresh. I won’t go through all 11 of his cuts, but they are all inspired, thoughtful, and powerful.

Some, like “Closed on Sunday”, challenge this generation to live a different way. Others, like the closing chorus, Jesus is Lord” is simply Scripture.

My favorite, is a gorgeous melody called Water, which unashamedly declares the power of Jesus as our living water.

I don’t know Kanyebut I know thishe is a man who has encountered the risen Savior and is singing about Him from the rooftop. It doesn’t matter if your name is Bill or Jill or Sven or Mohammad or Kanye, the Bible declares that the heavens rejoice when even one comes to know him.

Kanye knows there will be doubt, it can be heard in his song, Hands On:

What have you been hearin’ from the Christians?They’ll be the first one to judge me
Make it feel like nobody love me
Make you feel alone in the dark and you’ll never see the light
Man, you’re never seein’ home and you never see the domes
I can feel it when I write, point of livin’ in the right
If they only see the wrongs, never listen to the songs
Just to listen is a fight, but you booked me for the fight
It’s so hard to get along if they only see the slight
From the love of religion
What have you been hearin’ from the Christians?They’ll be the first one to judge me
Make it seem like nobody love me
I’m not tryna lead you to Visas
But if I try to lead you to Jesus
We get called halfway believers
Only halfway read Ephesians
Only if they knew what I knew, uh
I was never new ’til I knew of
True and living God, Yeshua
The true and living God.

Kanye, I’m not going to judge. Instead of being cynical and skeptical I choose hope and jubilation that you are using your gifts to share the hope of Christ with a world that so desperately needs the Word.

Jesus wept because Jerusalem would not receive its King and the coming consequences would be dire. The last place I want to be is standing with the Pharisees trying to silence your voice. I’m joining mine with yours. Hosanna, Our King REIGNS!

There’ll be haters on both sides; the world you escaped that won’t understand where you’ve gone to and the religious Pharisees who will denigrate your every move.  As for me, I will be praying for you, my brother in Christ, that you will remain strong until the end and use your amazing gifts for His glory.

Rob Hoskins

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Rob Hoskins is the President of OneHope. Since taking leadership of OneHope in 2004 he has continued to advance the vision of God’s Word. Every Child by partnering with local churches to help reach more than 1.5 BILLION children and youth worldwide with a contextualized presentation of God’s Word.

3 thoughts on “Kanye: let the Rappers cry out

  1. Kanye ride on bro
    I know this is real
    I have always got a hint of your believe in your lyrics, so this is no doubt to me.
    Let God be Praised.Hallelujah@

  2. Great article. I saw an interview of Kanye with James Corden (called “air karaoke”) Kanye spoke of his journey in between he and the choir singing songs from the album. He had a genuine humility in his voice and demeanor. It was compelling.

  3. Man, Rob, that last post you wrote on Kanye was so powerful and thought provoking.

    You are such a gifted and compelling writer. Thanks for taking the time to be a blessing and make a difference in the lives of others.

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