Kanye West Releases New Gospel-Inspired Album and Accompanying IMAX Film Jesus Is King
The album release comes at the height of his weekly Sunday Services and over a year after his last album Ye debuted
Kanye West is taking fans to church with his new album and film.
The rapper, 42, debuted his gospel-inspired ninth solo album and accompanying IMAX film, Jesus Is King, on Friday — nearly a month after the album’s original release date.
One of the songs on the 11-track album titled “Closed on Sunday” features the chorus “Closed on Sunday / You my Chick-fil-A,” referencing Chick-fil-A’s religious policy of closing all of its locations every Sunday. “Hold the selfies / Put the ‘gram away / Get your family / Now hold hands and pray,” West raps in the song.
The rest of the album includes other spiritual-themed titles such as “God Is,” “Follow God”, “On God,” “Use the Gospel,” “Jesus Is Lord” and “Selah.”
Also on the list is a single titled “Water,” which West previewed to fans at Coachella in April 2019. Additionally, songs “Every Hour,” “Everything We Need” and “Hands On” are included on the album.
During an interview with Zane Lowe of Beats 1 published on Thursday, West explained how he believes it’s his job now to “spread the gospel” and “let people know what Jesus has done for me.”
“I’ve spread a lot of things,” he said. “There was a time I was letting you know what high fashion had done for me, I was letting you know what the Hennessy had done for me, but now I’m letting you know what Jesus has done for me, and in that I’m no longer a slave, I’m a son now, a son of God. I’m free.”
In the interview, West admitted that there were even times when he asked people “to not have premarital sex while working” on the album.
“Seriously, there’s times where I went to people that were working on other projects and said, ‘Could you just work and focus on this?'” he said. “I thought if we could all focus and fast — I mean, it’s known families that pray together stay together. When people pray together, and fast together, the power is increased.”
Jesus Is King was slated to be released at midnight on Friday, but the hour came and went without an album.
Early Friday morning, West tweeted an explanation, sharing that they were still fine-tuning some tracks.
“To my fans, thank you for being loyal & patient,” he wrote. “We are specifically fixing mixes on ‘Everything We Need’ ‘Follow God’ & ‘Water.’ “
West went on to assure that his team is hard at work finalizing the record: “We not going to sleep until this album is out!”
Two days ahead of the album and film’s release, on Wednesday, West held a special screening event in Los Angeles where he played a selection of songs from the album for fans and showed them the new film — which is meant to resemble his famous Sunday Service.
“Filmed in the summer of 2019, JESUS IS KING brings Kanye West‘s famed Sunday Service to life in the Roden Crater, visionary artist James Turrell’s never-before-seen installation in Arizona’s Painted Desert,” IMAX previously said in a statement. “This one-of-a-kind experience features songs arranged by West in the gospel tradition along with music from his new album JESUS IS KING — all presented in the immersive sound and stunning clarity of IMAX.”
Also in attendance at Wednesday night’s event was West’s wife, Kim Kardashian West, who documented the evening on her Instagram Story. The reality star, 39, shared photos and videos of the cheering crowd standing in a grassy, nature-inspired installation of tall reeds and pampas grass.
The installation was created by artist Meg Webster, according to a photo shared by Kardashian West, who also shared more clips of West rapping his new songs.
Jesus Is King is a follow-up to Ye, which was released on June 1, 2018. A week later, West released his collaboration, titled Kids See Ghosts, with Kid Cudi on June 8, 2018.
The father of four — who shares daughters North, 6, and Chicago, 1, and sons Saint, 3, and Psalm, 5 months, with Kardashian West — was supposed to drop another album, Yandhi, in September 2018, but it was postponed until November and eventually delayed indefinitely.
Next, West plans to drop a Sunday Service album called Jesus Is Born, slated to release on Dec. 25.
West has been focused on his faith as of late. From his Sunday Services to his latest album and its religious undertones, the star has renewed his commitment to a more spiritual path.
In April, a source told PEOPLE that West is “extremely passionate about his faith and wants to share it more regularly with people,” adding how “he spends a lot of time studying and praying, and wants to share his journey.”
The source continued, “He believes in the healing powers of music, but also believes that God can step in and heal people’s brokenness and their issues.”
As a source told PEOPLE on Thursday, Kardashian West is also a fan of West’s transition to gospel music and “much prefers his new album over previous ones.”
“This one is so much more mature and spiritual,” the source said. “Like music that their kids can actually listen to. It doesn’t have any foul language. She loves how Kanye is evolving.”
Jesus Is King, the album, is available now, and its accompanying film is in IMAX theaters everywhere.