Why “Yeezus” is Best Taken with a Grain of Salt

Earlier this year, award winning hip-hop artist and infamous media icon Kanye West released his most critic dividing and controversial, full-length studio effort yet, entitled “Yeezus.” When asked about the meaning behind this strange combination of Jesus and West’s often used nickname, “Yeezy,” West ominously replied that Kanye is his slave name and “Yeezus” is his God name. In his album, filled with dark, vengeful beats, West spits and screams views of various subjects. They range from new-age slavery to the sexual revolution of today. The most controversial track on the album, “I Am A God,” is an ego trip of absurd proportions. Many would claim that this song is blasphemous, ugly and the rapper’s worst move since his public humiliation of Taylor Swift. Other critics would label the lyrics generic and uninspired, executed with a simplistic flow. If you take it at face value, one might say that “I Am A God” is a simple, shock-rock style cut. It is meant to ignite the tempers of the easily offended and religiously conservative demographic, while inspiring and empowering the young rebellious types. However, throughout the years, West has tried to make clear the fact that he himself is a devout Christian, thanking God in many of his songs. One of his first major hits, entitled “Jesus Walks,” was a Christian empowerment anthem. West’s longtime friend and repeat co-songwriter, Malik Yusef, offered insight into the song’s meaning on Twitter. Yusef claimed that the title wasn’t West claiming himself to be a god in the same sense a Christian God is a god, but that the concept is a reference to Psalms 82 in the Bible. Psalms 82:6-7 states: “I said, ‘You are gods, [a]nd all of you are children of the Most High. But you shall die like men, [a]nd fall like one of the princes.’” Yet, West stated he sincerely feels himself to be a god in an interview with W magazine. He claimed to have written the song in collaboration with Daft Punk to lash back at a fashion designer who asked him not to attend future fashion events. Throughout the article West repeatedly boasts and refers to himself as Jimi Hendrix. He claims to feel as if doesn’t need to explain how he has come to the decision that he is a god. So, we are presented with two all-encompassing ways to view this song. One view is steeped in references to Biblical passages. The song is not a pride-fueled boast, but more of a reverent clash between the fear of mortality and faith in the Christian God. The other view is that of a sacrilegious, angry egomaniac who has a god complex. What I feel makes the song so novel is that one can love it or hate it, accept it or discredit it. It all comes down to one’s personal view of Kanye West, and one can take it however he or she wants, while backing up their claims with perfectly admissible evidence. But does he go too far with this song? Only if you want him to, it seems. Whether or not West intended for this level of intricate interpretation of his song will most likely continue to be the battleground of critics and TMZ hosts for the next decade. The answer may never be quite clear.

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