“Jesus Lord” by Kanye West (ft. Jay Electronica)
One can’t help but to imagine that certain parts of Kanye’s verse, such as when he proclaims “it’s hard to be an angel when you surrounded by demons”, were inspired by his unique standing in the music industry. For while other artists are increasingly embracing the dark side, as time progresses Kanye’s music is becoming more and more Christianized, for lack of a better term.
But he doesn’t actually take the lyrics there per se. Rather the vocalist is making such assertions in more of a general context, using himself as an example to point to the challenges that all people aspiring for righteousness face. Or at least that appears to be the overarching theme of his verse, i.e. trying to conduct one’s self in a proper manner in today’s world.
And again, even though he doesn’t speak to his celebrity directly, when Kanye mentions the temptation of “too many pills” and “so much potions”, well, we all know that it’s quite common for famous musicians, including Kanye, to have issues with drugs, with many even losing their lives as a result.
But the ambiguity of the lyrics, in terms of the rapper not identifying any specific subject, once again gives them a general applicability. And let’s just say that Kanye seemingly knows how it feels for instance to get so depressed that one contemplates suicide.
And while we’re on the subject of the afterlife, Yeezus also uses the opportunity to acknowledge his late mother, i.e. the same Donda West which is the album Jesus Lord is featured on is named after. And in the process of doing so, he basically alludes to her untimely passing as being one of the sources of his aforenoted depression, in addition to other family-related issues, such as his cousins being locked up.
A Tough Environment
Moreover, Kanye likens the ‘hood to a warzone, i.e. a place where death, particularly of Black men, is constant, which is also a topic he gets more into later. But overall, it appears that what he’s trying to get across, in terms of his own personal history, is that he came from a f–ked up background. So in that regard, Jesus Lord can even be considered a come-up song.
However, with this being Yeezus and all, he isn’t celebrating going from poor to rich but rather from dismal to now being more spiritualized. But that said, the primary focus of this lengthy passage is not on himself. Instead the vocalist’s attention is more focused on how ill-fated living in the ‘hood actually can be, largely via a tale of revenge murder, etc. involving other individuals.
Meanwhile Jay Electronica’s segment is more braggadocious, sorta reminiscent of the religious rappers of old who would mix their belief systems with personal bragging. And he does make some direct prophecies, if the listener decides to perceive them as such. For instance, Jay predicts, most simply put, that First World nations such as the United States and United Kingdom are cursed due to injustices they perpetrated against the Third World.
He also appears to liken America to “Sodom and Gomorrah”, i.e. the two infamous cities of Biblical lore that were ultimately destroyed by God due to their unrepentantly evil ways. And Electronica’s role in all of this, once again, is to sort of serve as a prophet, i.e. a popular rapper who isn’t afraid to take it there.
The Conclusion of “Jesus Lord”
The song concludes with another passage whose length is on par with Kanye’s first extended verse. However, in this case it isn’t a rap but rather a message sent to Yeezus by one Larry Hoover Jr. He is the son of Larry Hoover, i.e. one of the founders and former leader of the Gangster Disciples, who are perhaps the most infamous street gang to have originated from West’s hometown of Chicago, which itself is well-known as a severely crime-infested city.
The original Larry Hoover has been locked up since 1973, and well, let’s just say by the looks of things he’s never coming out. So one of the primary purposes of the son’s missive is to thank Kanye for attempting to get his father out of prison, back in 2020 when Yeezus met with President Donald Trump. And Junior, as well as other family members are using the inspiration of said attempt to keep the battle going.
He also goes on to explain how they themselves have been demonized for being related to Larry Hoover Sr., despite the fact that later on he repented of his gangster ways and rather “wanted to make a change in (the) community”. In doing so, Hoover Jr. is denying allegations that his father continued to run the gang from jail, which is why he was re-arrested and re-tried, while already incarcerated, in 1995.
Hoover Jr. also likens his dad to “the children of today” who are likewise criminals, i.e. them all having been made so due to “the conditions in this capitalist society”. And the verse comes to an end with Larry Jr. fundamentally stating that he and the rest of the family miss Larry Sr., who deserves to be free.
But by this point in time, after nearly 50 years of being locked up (a lot longer than the “25 years” stated in the verse), of course it doesn’t look like such is going to transpire, considering that dude is serving like a gazillion-year sentence, even before the additional 1995 charges.
So that’s why he concludes, buttressed by Kanye, by asking ‘Jesus, Lord’ for help in achieving this goal. In fact even though we didn’t note it earlier, Kanye’s and Jay Electronica’s own verses conclude with similar exclamations.
What is the meaning of “Jesus Lord” as used in this song?
In fact the title of the song, as used therein, is more along the lines of a prayer than a namedrop. And what Kanye is putting forth in the chorus is an idea like calling upon “Jesus, Lord” when times get tough.
The verses themselves, as illustrated, aren’t necessarily based on such a topic. But they do effectively illustrate various scenarios where one may find themselves having no one to depend on for justice, if you will, except God.
“Jesus Lord” Facts
Key Artist: Kanye West
Featured Artist: Jay Electronica
When was “Jesus Lord” released?
On the 29th day of August, 2021. It appears as track number 17 on West’s “Donda”. It wasn’t a single from Donda. Actually as of the album’s date of release, it had only one single, namely “Hurricane“.
Writing and Production
The song was written by West with support from the following:
- Larry Hoover Jr
- Mike Dean
- Jay Electronica
The production was also done by West alongside Swizz Beatz. Co-writer Gesaffelstein also contributed production to it.