At long last, ‘Jesus Is King’ has finally arrived and now we know exactly what a non-secular Kanye West record sounds like. Among all the many references to God, the album boasts some subtle new rules to live by from the rapper, whether you believe in Jesus or not. Like a modern-day Moses coming down from the mountain, here Ye gives us his own 10 commandments.
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Thou shalt not be a slave
Lyric: “Won’t be in bondage to any man/John 8:33/We the descendants of Abraham/Ye should be made free.” (‘Selah’)
What’s it mean?: Referencing a passage in the Bible in which Jesus tells the Jews if he sets them free then they will “be free indeed”, West implies that as a fellow descendant of Abraham, he should also be unshackled because of his love and belief in God’s son.
Thou shalt love thy neighbour
Lyric: “Love God and our neighbour, as written in Luke/The army of God and we are the truth.” (‘Selah’)
What’s it mean?: He’s not straying too far from one of Christianity’s biggest commandments here. In the Bible, Jesus tells a lawyer if he loves God and his neighbour “as thyself” then he will inherit eternal life.
Thou shalt not scream at your dad
Lyric: “I was screaming at my dad, he told me, ’That ain’t Christ-like’.” (‘Follow God’)
What’s it mean?: In ‘Follow God’, West is constantly being criticised by his dad for not being very “Christ-like”. You could argue his use of the word “spazzing” at the end isn’t either but, here, the rapper reminds us of the importance of respecting your elders and holding yourself to the highest standard possible.
Thou shalt not ‘gram on Sundays
Lyric: “Closed on Sunday, you my Chick-fil-A/Hold the selfies, put the ‘gram away/Get your family, y’all hold hands and pray.” (‘Closed On Sunday’)
What’s it mean?: Have your modern distractions from religion every other day of the week but remember what’s important on the Sabbath day – taking a break from trying out those Insta filters that take away the need for a Kylie Jenner Lip Kit and praying with your nearest and dearest.
Thou shalt protect your family
Lyric: “Try me and you will see that I ain’t playing/Now back up off my family/Move your hands/I got my weapons in the spirit’s land.” (‘Closed On Sunday’)
What’s it mean?: As well as being a threat to West’s haters and those who would do him or his clan wrong, it’s a reminder that, with God by your side, you and your family have an eternal protector in the Lord.
Thou shalt believe in yourself
Lyric: “And all my brothers locked up on the yard/You can still be anything you wanna be.” (‘On God’)
What’s it mean?: Even if your life has taken a wrong turn (for example, as West demonstrates here, by going to prison), that doesn’t mean that should define you for the rest of your life. If you believe then you can still achieve your dreams.
Thou shalt have faith in God
Lyric: “It’s a hard road to heaven/We call on your blessings/In the father, we put our faith.” (‘Use This Gospel’)
What’s it mean?: Life is hard sometimes – West knows that. But, here he’s putting his complete trust in God to help him along the rocky path to the pearly gates.
Thou shalt not worship idols
Lyric: “All my idols, let ‘em go.” (‘God Is’)
What’s it mean?: West himself might be an idol, in some senses, but worshipping him, and others like him, won’t get you anywhere. In his mind, the only being worth worshipping is God.
Thou shalt not judge
Lyric: “What have you been hearing from the Christians?/They’ll be the first one to judge me/Make it seem like nobody love me.” (‘Hands On’)
What’s it mean?: Ye’s embrace of Christianity in both his Sunday Service and his plans for ‘Jesus Is King’ has often been questioned and criticised, especially in religious sectors. The rapper isn’t a fan of that and is asking for the world to quit judging and accept him in this new chapter.
Thou shalt open yourself up for forgiveness
Lyric: “Jesus, please help/Jesus, please heal/Jesus, please forgive.” (‘Water’)
What’s it mean?: Even if others around you are judging you, the only judgement that matters, in the end, is God’s. In ‘Water’, he opens himself up completely to Jesus, asking him to help, heal, and forgive him of his sins.