Kanye West’s long-threatened, often-delayed gospel debut has finally arrived. After blowing past its midnight deadline, Jesus Is King appeared on streaming platforms Friday. As Pusha T raps on “Use This Gospel”—where he reunites with his Clipse brother No Malice—”Fashionably late, I’m just glad that you made it.” And despite the crisp runtime—the LP falls just shy of 28 minutes—King still manages to shock and delight with its list of collaborators.
West’s Sunday Services have emerged as the place to be spotted in 2019 (see: Brad Pitt’s recent appearance), and it’s fitting that the first feature slot goes to his choir on opening cut “Every Hour.” This choir anchors much of the set the set. They also appear on “Selah,” which was co-written by CyHI the Prynce, No Malice, Pusha T, and West. Elsewhere, Benny Blanco and E*vax of Ratatat assist West and Francis and the Lights with production on cuts like “Everything We Need” and the Ant Clemons-featuring “Water.”
Hip-hop studio wiz Timbaland lends his hands as a producer to five of the LPs’ cuts: “Closed On Sunday,” “Water,” “Hands On,” which features Grammy-winning Gospel singer Fred Hammond, “Use This Gospel,” and “Jesus Is Lord.” And both Pusha T and No Malice have writing credits on three songs—on “Use This Gospel,” the duo reunites as vocalists for a dizzying outing that also features none other than Kenny G.
Famously, five years ago No Malice announced that he and his brother would never get back together in the vocal booth. (Their final album arrived in 2009.) “I can’t speak for him,” Pusha T said in a new interview discussing the appearance, “but I do think a lot of it had to do with feeling like he should be more present in everything that I had going on musically in the past couple of years.” The rapper appears thrilled by the development: “I’m the younger brother, man,” he also said. “I mean, I’m happier than—I can’t even express it!”
West has made no secret of the important role the Thornton brothers played in King‘s creation. “I remember sayin’ I wasn’t even gonna rap,” West said in an interview with Beats 1’s Zane Lowe, which aired Thursday. “I didn’t know how to rap for God. So I remember No Malice being like, ‘I’ma write you a rap for this. You gon’ rap on this.'”
Ty Dolla $ign stops by the stuttering “Everything We Need,” which features another appearance by Clemons. (Clemons first worked with West on his eighth album, ye, which dropped last summer. That set arrived without a list of credits and his verses were, for a time, assumed to be Jeremih.)
6ix9ine and Playboy Carti collaborator Pi’erre Bourne is listed as a composer and writer on “On God” and “Use This Gospel” while BoogzaDaBeast, who has worked with West on some of his earlier releases as well G.O.O.D. Music inner circle stars Teyana Taylor and Pusha T, dots the credit sheets for six of the album’s cuts, including “Everything We Need,” which also got an assist from Mike Dean. (Dean is one of the genre’s true super-producers, having working with the likes of 2Pac, JAY-Z, Travis Scott, and West.)
Perhaps most famous for his recent scoring of the trippy HBO series Euphoria, Labrinth is featured as both a producer and singer on “God Is.” Labrinth name-checked West earlier this month while discussing his inspiration for the TV sensation’s music. “[Creator Sam Levinson] was just like, ‘What if we could make [Kanye’s] Yeezus meets Edward Scissorhands.'”
He also opened up about the energy that fills West’s weekly shows. “That was very, very sick,” he said of the Sunday Services. “I really loved it. I got invited by a friend, and I didn’t know what to expect ’cause you never know how these things are gonna go but… just the vibe was really beautiful and very… it was egoless. I said that to Kanye at the end. It didn’t feel as if it was about any one person, just bringing happiness and peace to a lot of people. Loads of people left like that, with smiles on their faces, nice sunny day. I went with Sia and Diplo and we just had a mad fun time. We were dancing by the end of it.”
Jesus Is King is out now.