Kanye West ‘Jesus Is King’ IMAX Experience [Review]
I became a Kanye West fan later than most hip hop fans. Regretfully, when I chose to go to Bible college I gave up mainstream hip-hop for a time. So from 2003-2005, there’s a gap in my catalog, and in my recollection of the historical music (College Dropout and Late Registration) that Kanye was able to release around those times.
Admittedly, the first time I heard the “Jesus Walks” beat was on Corey Red & Precise’s Street Prophecy Vol. 2 Mixtape. So once I came back around to listening to the mainstream once more, I didn’t have an endearing thought to ponder or even context to pull from for the guy who grabbed a mic to interrupt Taylor Swift at the VMAs. I only thought of Ye as the producer on “Blueprint 2,” and a few tracks on Scarface’s (classic) The Fix. All I could ask myself was “whoever decided to let this man have a mic?”
Fast-forward, this is a man who has progressed in his art and his craft. He’s collaborated with some wild and eclectic acts and has created moving art, whether you rock with him or not. Obviously I have gone back and listened to those early Kanye works, and have kept up on his iconic career since 2006. His journey encapsulates someone who is trying to find his home, his purpose, and his voice.
Today my wife and I decided to check out Kanye West’s “Jesus Is King” IMAX experience. First, let me be clear about the purpose of this post because celebrities becoming Christians can lead us down so many different paths. This is not something I needed to do in order to have my faith validated. My faith is validated by no man. Only Christ.
I bought tickets to this IMAX experience because if it lived up to the advertisement, celebrity endorsement, and overall hype, I expected to bear witness to exceptional Christian art. I am of the mindset that Kanye’s faith journey is his own faith journey. I’m not sure that I can speak to what he has or has not experienced. But, I do believe that I can be a capable judge of whether or not the art he has crafted is up to the bar or not. And from that, the fruit should be evident.
Filmed on location at Roden Crater, visual artist James Turrell’s previously never-before-seen installation in Arizona’s Painted Desert, this “experience” runs at just under 40 minutes.
What begins as an eye-rolling ignitermedia.com-ish worship landscape background video moved into a gripping spirit filling echoing chorus of “Hallelujah,” and Kanye meeting God in a very personal way. Most of Kanye’s career is seen in front of a camera. And here I found myself emotionally attached to him for a brief moment, as he held his head in his hands and he pondered the greatness of God. It’s subtle, but it’s fantastic if you can let yourself see it as it is. There’s no pomp and circumstance to this, but there’s an artistic flair that captures the eye in a necessary way that is engaging and surprisingly not as distracting as you would suppose.
This is Kanye West up close and personal, vulnerable and humble.
The music is powerful. The close-up perspectives are unsettling. But the message is crystal clear – Kanye has had a true encounter with Jesus Christ and his life is in transformation.
God often uses the foolish things of this world to shame the wise. Kanye has had his share of foolish moments in the public eye, so of course in the Kingdom of God, he’s now being used as a vessel to bring a little light into a dark place. Whether you like him or not, there is no denying he is an icon in our culture. From my perspective and just from bearing witness to his art, it’s hard to not see that he has indeed lost his life to find it for the sake of the Gospel.