In the past week, Kanye West's new album Jesus Is King has sparked much debate from listeners in the Christian music community, finding fans on both sides of the fence.
A vast number of artists have been speaking out about their support of the album and of Kanye's sudden life-change, namely fellow hip-hop artist Lecrae. In an exclusive interview with Billboard, Lecrae states: "Kanye is such a polarizing figure and his movements create ripple effects in culture, particularly music. Traditionally gospel is seen as singing. Those of us Christians who rap were removed from the gospel charts on that technicality. His deeper impact is perhaps on the Christian rap community. There is a lot more intersectionality there."
"Often people can't imagine people from the hip-hop community finding Christ. We see this very Americanized Western Jesus and not a Middle Eastern man who can relate to the struggles that usually affect us. So, this could be an opportunity for more people to see we love Jesus and 808s, fashion, and contribute to culture. People could see themselves in Kanye and therefore see themselves as Christ followers," Lecrae continued.
Lecrae also admits that the backlash Kanye has been facing around this album is "understandable" because of his past work, but also that this is his favorite Kanye album in terms of content. "It sounds like a person who is excited about his new relationship with Jesus. I'm in support of that." You can read the full interview here.
Additionally, gospel artist Fred Hammond has spoken out about his experience working with Kanye on the Jesus Is King record, specifically on the track "Hold On." "I care about Kanye staying on and having enough hope to make it through the change that he wants. I know he's strong right now. But the thing that will beat you down the most is when the people who you think should embrace you, they reject you," Hammond said in an exclusive interview with The Rolling Stone about his decision to work alongside West.
"One of the main things I'm seeing is that I got a lot of calls from millennials in gospel rap. They hope that their genre might catch fire really well. Gospel music as a whole is starting to shrink. When they saw and heard something they liked, they're like, we're proud to be a part of this," Hammond says. You can read the full interview here.