The name Kanye West is synonymous with controversy. Back in 2007, he endured the untimely death of his loving Mother due to complications from cosmetic surgery. His marriage to popular media star Kim Kardashian as well as his political statements which many have found to be inflammatory have kept him under a media microscope. His alleged mental health issues including a diagnosis of bi-polar disorder and his relationship to President Donald Trump have kept him under much scrutiny. In a recent trip to the White House, Kanye stated emphatically that Black people have been programmed to think that they must vote Democratic. However, he stressed that Black people do not need to be told who to vote for and he made it known that he supports President Trump. For this, the media has labeled him “mentally ill.”
Kanye’s 9th studio album, “Jesus is King” is a musical tour de force driven by beautiful choral arrangements sung by a gospel choir of more than 100 voices and accompanied by an organist, percussionists and a brass section of trombones and trumpets. The album is a mixture of intricately arranged choral music which often dominates Kanye’s rapping. Despite this, the rap is powerful in its message of hope, love and the importance of family. The focus of this article is on the single from the CD, “Closed on Sunday.”
Whenever an individual has endured as much controversy as Kanye has, it seems natural to return to spirituality or to a God of his or her understanding. What better way is there to find solace in a world that is fraught with chaos.
In the video for “Closed on Sunday” we see the view of someone looking through the window of what appears to be a military-type vehicle or a tank. Shortly thereafter, Kanye with his wife Kim and their 4 children are huddled together in a remote cavernous area. Later, they are seen walking out of the cavern into a large open area and friends and family members emerge from a procession of tanks and gather to form one cohesive group. This seems symbolic of an emphasis on the importance of close friends and family—keeping them close and keeping them safe and protected. Reference is constantly made to “Chick-Fil-a” simply because the restaurant is closed on Sundays for religious reasons.
Kanye seems to be calling people to return to basic values. He is clearly stating the importance of protecting one’s family and home in these lyrics. “I stand up for my home, even if I take this walk alone. I bow down to the King upon the throne. My life is his, I’m no longer my own. I pray to God he’ll strengthen my hand.”
I believe that Kanye, in his own way, is returning to God and spirituality and through his music, he is encouraging others to do the same. A return to God and spirituality is, quite simply, a return to love.