The track list for Kanye West’s ninth studio album, Jesus Is King, has been revealed. Here’s what we know from the song names and what each might mean to Kanye.
“Clade” is a taxonomical reference to a group that shares a common ancestor. It’s used mostly in the scientific classification of organisms. While that might seem at odds with the poetic nature of an album, when you think about its subtext, there’s certainly romantic applications. For example, if we’re all the children of God, then we’re all part of the same clade. In that way, every living person is family. Brothers and sisters.
With that in mind, it would be easy to make a plea for unity. For love. Which is reminiscent of many of Kanye’s 2018 tweets about showing love to others rather than hate and finding ways to connect rather than divide. Visually demonstrated by Kanye when he wore a MAGA hat with a Colin Kaepernickshirt, two opposite ends of the ideological spectrum.
Love everyone Start the year clean Just be All love
— ye (@kanyewest) January 1, 2019
This track had been rumored to be part of Kanye’s original (and seemingly scrapped) ninth album, Yandhi. While we don’t know in what form “Garden” will arrive on Jesus Is King, a version did leak in June. It included these lines: We will weld this world, world back together/Let’s make a way, We’ll lead the way/Must keep the faith, faith in each other/You are my brother, family.
Those lines could support the aforementioned reading of “Clade.” And welding the world back together could get at the idea of turning something broken into something better. Something similar, maybe, to the Garden of Eden, the wondrous place Adam and Eve lived before their Original Sin occurred and God cast them out. The implication being we could make our world into something like the Garden.
A word commonly found in the biblical psalms, at the end of a verse. As to what it means? Answers vary. Given the musical nature of the psalms, most take it, contextually, as a note to pause between verses, as a kind of reflective silence.
This being an unfinished phrase rather than word easily defined or a reference to something that has implications and connotations, it’s hard to assign any kind of meaning or speculation. This title does reinforce the religious nature of the album and continues to indicate we should view everything through a Christian frame.
Speaking of viewing everything through a Christian frame. Baptism is a Christian ritual involving water as a symbol of purification. It serves, popularly, as a rite of admission. Those baptized can range from infants to teenagers to adults who want to re-affirm their faith or who have strayed from the church and seek to more formally confirm their return.
A private school in Los Angeles. Both Jenner sisters, Kendall and Kylie, attended Sierra Canyon. And Kanye was twice photographed at the school (Dec 2017, Feb 2018), attending the high school’s basketball games.
Kanye west taking in the Sierra canyon vs viewpoint pic.twitter.com/TyDH0YjB3c
— Jack Pollon (@pollonpreps) February 9, 2018
If Kanye is mentioning the school, it could be for several reasons. One would be because his daughter North attends. Another would be he liked the name and decided to use it for a fictional location.
Like “God Is,” the title “Hands On” is very vague. But it does indicate a personal approach. How a CEO might be hands on in the day to day operations of a company. Or a parent might be hands on in their child’s education or hobby (like coaching little league, or helping with homework).
If it’s personal, Kanye could talk about his hands on approach to something like parenting, music, the world. If it’s religious, he could be talking about God’s hands on approach. On his 2013 track “I Am a God,” Kanye did have the line: I am a god/even though I’m a man of God/My whole life in the hand of God.
Wake The Dead
There’s the biblical story of Lazarus, who Jesus brought back from the dead.
Personally, Kanye and Kim both lost a parent. Donda West in 2007, at the age of 58. Robert Kardashian in 2003, at the age of 59.
West, on December 31st, 2014, released the track “Only One,” a song from the perspective of his late mother, commenting from heaven on Kanye’s life, now that he was married and had a daughter. We could see something similar here. Given that “Clade” refers to our family tree, so to speak, a song about ancestors would make sense.
Another potential is it’s about people who have lost touch with what matters and need “woken up” to truly live again.
West played this song as part of his 2019 Sunday Service at Coachella. The lyrics are, of course, religious in nature. The song’s outro is illuminating.
I know I might not be as perfect as Christ/But, we’re made up of 90 percent water/…Your love’s water.
Essentially, Kanye’s repeating a common concept in Christianity, that God is perfect and people do the best they can. Whenever the phrase We are waterrepeats during the song, we know it means we’re made up of God’s love. While we’re make mistake, because we’re 90% water, we’ll make it through. This is reinforced by the lines The storm may come/But we’ll get through it because of your love/Either way, we crash like water. The ocean may become turbulent, but it settles again. The same with people.
Through the Valley
This might be a reference to the “Valley of Death,” that comes from Psalm 23:4. “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.”
Kanye had previously made references to this back in 2004, on the song “Jesus Walks.” I walk through the valley of the Chi where death is, referring to the high murder rate of his home city of Chicago.
Could this be a song about Chicago?
According to the Bible, God created the world and everything in it then rested on the seventh day, Sunday. It’s the day typically associated with church and faith. It’s the day Kanye has held 35 consecutive Sunday Services, directing and creating his versions of gospel music.
Coming as it does at the end of the album, “Sunday” could signify the completion of a mission undertaken over the course of the album and finally having a moment to rest.
On Sundays, at church, praise is given to Jesus. Given that the album is called Jesus Is King, it would make sense to end with a song specifically geared to praising the Son of God.