Kanye markets toward white evangelicals, especially rich

Separating the art from the artist

Julie Cantero-Valente, Staff Writer

An illustration of Kanye West raising his hands in front of a cross
Chloe Guillot

Kanye West is infamously known as the man who claimed slavery was a choice, defended Donald Trump and married Kim Kardashian. For over a decade, West has been a mainstream culture icon and self-proclaimed musical genius. With his newest release, a gospel album titled “Jesus Is King,” West managed to become a major topic of discussion once again. This time, as a result of his recent decision to vocalize his apparent newfound commitment to faith and Christianity. 


Many are questioning West’s motives behind the new album, as well as his decision to suddenly be very vocal and public about his new Christian identity. West has racked up a large following of white evangelicals who have come to his defense against critics, primarily comprised of people of color. Among this group of new followers is megachurch pastor Joel Osteen, who extended an invitation for West and family to attend a service. 


It’s clear that West’s new following is coming as a result of his new gospel release. 


Many of West’s fans who have followed him since the beginning are confused, upset, and shocked, stating that he’s no longer the pink-polo-wearing artist he once was. But this new gospel album is not the beginning of the frustration and feelings of indifference for early fans of West. 


In early May of 2018, West made an appearance on the popular tabloid TMZ after proudly posting a picture wearing a MAGA (Make America Great Again) hat. Online, for all the world to see, West very clearly stated that he “loves Trump” and later made the problematic and controversial statement that slavery was a choice.


Understandably, people were outraged and baffled. Why would West, a black man, ever say that slavery was a choice and support someone who has made blatantly racist comments? 


West has the privilege of being a billionaire. Therefore, he has the privilege of being able to ignore the issues and injustices he once used to stand and fight for. 


There’s no doubt that it is possible for individuals to be friendly, civil and have conversations with those whom they disagree with. But West has fully supported and defended Donald Trump in the midst of sexist, racist and homophobic remarks.


Earlier this month, West asked that he be referred to as “Christian Genius Billionaire Kanye West” at the 2019 Fast Company Innovation Festival. West is not hiding how important his identity as a billionaire is to him. Time and time again, West has proven to us that his wealth is incredibly important to him and he would do anything for money and publicity — even at the cost of the black community that has supported him from the beginning.

It’s not surprising that critics believe his public claim to Christianity is a marketing tool. West is not different from any other billionaire that exploits and oppresses groups for the sake of money. 


West’s gospel album is unlike anything he’s ever written and released before. Which leads many to believe that it wasn’t written for his usual audience, but instead for white, wealthy Christians who support Donald Trump — or, at the very least, for those who are privileged enough to be able to feel indifferent about his politics.


For his early following, the album is proof that he has forgotten where he came from, what he used to stand for and that he has abandoned them.


The white and wealthy Christians that West appears to be addressing have fully welcomed and accepted him. These Christians jump to defend West at every negative comment made by critics, and many have chosen to forget about the things that West has done, and said, in the past simply because of his newfound Christian identity. 


For them, his salvation and conversion forgive his past sins.