If there’s one thing Kanye West shouldn’t be worried about, it’s the elitist music critics who claim his most recent album is a bust. The hip hop artist and fashion-designer has just topped the official Billboard Music “Artist 100” Chart for the second time thanks to the influence of his recently-released Jesus Is King hip hop/Gospel album.
This must be a sweet victory for Ye and his newfound Christian fans who have been told recently that Kanye’s Christo-centric production would bomb and that his Gospel message isn’t fit for the mainstream.
Billboard reported on November 5 that West has just resolidified his top dog status in the music industry. His latest venture, Gospel/rap album Jesus Is King has boosted Kanye’s success across “key metrics of music consumption,” which include “blending album and track sales, radio airplay, streaming and social media fan interaction.”
Jesus Is King also debuted at number one on the Billboard 200, the official industry metric on album success. The success of the album earns West his “ninth consecutive No. 1 debut on the Billboard 200,” a “record-tying” number.
Kanye’s Christian record debuted at the top spot in several other Billboard categories, including “Top Christian Albums,” “Top Gospel Albums,” Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums” and “Top Rap Albums,” making it the first record to earn all five rankings.
Though Kanye is used to having his albums hit number 1 — his last album “Ye” debuted No. 1 about a year ago — the fact that he could come in and crush it with an explicitly Christian, explicitly counter-cultural record is a testament to the artist’s star power, especially in the face of not-so-stellar critical reception.
Rolling Stone gave the album two-and-a-half stars out of 5. British outlet The Guardian gave it two stars while claiming that it’s the work of a “rap genius who can’t see the light,” and that the album “might be the definitive assertion that West’s golden period is over.” Variety’s Andrew Barker called the record “not very good” and added that the album is “a lyrical mess, alternately alienating and bland.”
This doesn’t even include the harsh treatment Kanye has been privy to from the African American and hip hop community, who have blistered him as “Not Black” for his pro-Trump statements and consistenly referred to him as “crazy” since then. Woke African American website The Root called the album “actually bad.” The piece added, “Kanye is trying on his gospel outfit and failing at it miserably.”
While we know that music quality isn’t necessarily tied to chart success (here’s to most of the “Top 40” for the last two decades) it is nice to see that audiences aren’t deterred from listening to the album, even though it promotes what mainstream culture deems highly-controversial content.
It’s not everyday that a rap album about Jesus Christ is number one on secular airwaves. At any rate, we’ll take it.