Kanye West, the prodigal son of contemporary rap music dropped the new album yesterday, surprising anyone, in any sense.
However, the crazy love of an American rapper for his God continues: this is the only certainty we have when we look at Kanye’s work, especially from a certain point of his life (certainly after The Life Of Pablo) onwards.
With Jesus is King, the album released in 2019, Kanye demonstrated how to “stretch” rap music. Just take it, break it, put it at divine service and then reassemble it based on this assumption. And if love for God is joy and pain, inside God’s music there can be everything and the opposite of everything: then rap, jazz, gospel, the thousand blues influences, rock, folk, are all right. alternative music and let’s not forget the electronic one.
The new album is called ‘Emmanuel’: from the Hebrew, people of God, ‘Immanu’el’, means “God is with us”. Released on December 25th, because on no day is God with us like the day of his coming to Earth.
Emmanuel is an ep of five songs, which more than rap songs are austere and severe sacred hymns, of those that can be found on Sundays in some Benedictine churches of the old order. Why, it is clear, especially in pieces like ‘Puer‘ and in ‘O Magnum Mysterium‘, the influence of the Latin ecclesiastical choirs is there. We see it in the titles, all written in Latin, and in the choice of voices, which take the form of the choir as in a celebration.
The choir we hear, however, is not just any choir. The background is the Sunday Service Choir: the gospel choir directed by Kanye West himself and by Jason White, the teacher. The Sunday Service Choir has accompanied Kanye since 2019, the year in which they released their first album “Jesus Is Born“, and performs with him in Sunday masses and on some occasions at the Opera.
Now that West has gone from being the black sheep of God, with the aggression of Famous nudes, to the lamb loyal to divine service, in which direction will we see rap music going? I ask because listening to Emmanuel I had the impression that those were still the daughter bases of one of the greatest (and brilliant, and crazy, and unscrupulous) producers of our time. And I had the impression that they were waiting for someone to rap over it, as happens for some songs of Jesus is King, in which the bases already anticipate, if desired, the work that Kanye West did for Emmanuel, but they keep the vocals and blend it to the context.
If it really happens, that is, that someone joins rap, electronics, rock to Latin Christian music, we could really witness the birth of new musical genres in a historical moment in which I did not think it was possible to listen to anything that had not already been made in 2020 years of history.
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