Kanye’s remarkable journey with Jesus shakes the cultural landscape

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By Michael Ashcraft —

Kanye West’s porn addiction started when he was 5.

“Playboy was my gateway to full-on pornography addiction. My dad left out a Playboy,” he says. “And it’s affected almost every choice I made for the rest of my life.”

That simple fact accounts for why Kanye West — one of the most influential hip hop artists in America — has mired his music with muck and why he married hyper hot reality star Kim Kardashian, who became famous through the release of a sex tape (supposedly “purloined” though some saw it as self-release publicity stunt).

Today, Kanye West acknowledges the damage he has done to American culture and is allowing Jesus to undo the damage, beginning with himself. With the release of his ninth album called Jesus is King — with strictly Christian themes — the former devil’s child has declared himself unalterably God’s child.

Pornography “presents itself out in the open (on billboards and such) as if it were ok, and I stand up and say, ‘It’s not ok,’” he says.

In April of this year — after performing at Coachella, — Kanye, who has dallied with God, finally decided to go full bore and become born-again, he said in an Apple Music video interview.

“Now that I’m in service to Christ, my job is to spread the gospel, to let people know what Jesus has done for me,” he said. “I’ve spread a lot of (messages). There was a time when I was letting you know what high fashion had done for me. I was letting you know what the Hennessy (cognac) had done for me. But now I’m letting you know what Jesus has done for me.

“I’m no longer a slave,” he said. “I’m a son. I’m a son of God now. I’m free through Christ. I’m no longer an entertainer. I’m no longer in this for entertainment.”

Kanye was raised in Chicago by a divorced father who was a Black Panther, a photojournalist and later a Christian counselor.

HIs mother had participated in sit-ins in the fight for Civil Rights. When he was 10, he accompanied his mother to Nanjing University in China. A college professor, she was teaching in an exchange program, and little Kanye enrolled in school, readily picking up Chinese (which he has now forgotten).

Kanye was drawn to music from the third grade. One of his earliest raps was a revision of Dr. Seuss’ “Green Eggs and Ham.” After graduating from high school, he received a scholarship for Chicago’s American Academy of Art in 1997 and began taking painting classes, then transferred to Chicago State University.

But the class load interfered with his music production, so he dropped out of college at age 20, to the chagrin of his mother.

He joined Roc-A-Fella Records and made a name for himself producing for Jay-Z, Ludacris and Alicia Keys and Janet Jackson. He was widely credited in revitalizing Jay-Z’s career.

When he launched his solo career, he tirelessly revised and improved his first album, College Dropout. The perfectionism in craftsmanship paid off; the album went triple platinum, won almost universal critical acclaim and earned 10 Grammy nominations.

He founded GOOD Music label in 2004 and subsequently conquered the industry with pioneering hip hop from eight studio albums that netted 21 Grammys.

He struck some as a self-aggrandizing narcissist who spouted off wild and controversial rants.

After that, he launched a sports shoe with Nike and also a fashion line.

In 2014, Kanye married Kim Kardashian, the daughter of OJ Simpson defense lawyer Robert Kardashian. Famous for being famous, Kim made money through her reality show “Keeping up with the Kardashians” with her sisters Kourtney, Khloe, Kendall and Kylie since 2007.

Kim eased into celebrity life with the help of her friend, Paris Hilton. Her career catapulted with the infamous “release” of a sex tape with her then boyfriend, Ray J, in 2002, which many saw as a quick and dirty way to acquire notoriety.

Kim was famous for her sultry style and seemed to accentuate her figure with fillings and plastic surgery (she denies having surgery). She was the perfect match for the porn-crazed rapper. He later shared that he liked to see his wife dress immodestly to compete at bod-flaunting in front of the paparazzi. He later admitted that he influenced his daughter North with the same shameless fashion sense.

The couple has four children, and they’ve stayed together for five years — no small feat in Hollywood!

Then on Nov. 20, 2016, Kanye had a breakdown. Troubled by his mom’s death and reportedly using opioids after a surgery, Kanye publicly denounced his buddy Jay-Z, because he did not attend his wedding: “Jay-Z—call me, bruh. You still ain’t called me. Jay-Z, I know you got killers. Please don’t send them at my head. Please call me. Talk to me like a man.”

He left the stage before the concert ended and was persuaded by authorities to admit himself the next day to UCLA Medical Center for hallucinations and paranoia. He canceled the rest of the 21 concerts scheduled for the tour.

It was there in the hospital that he came to terms with Jesus. He committed to building a church in the town where he lived, Calabasas, California. He started reading the Bible.

Released from mental care facility, Kanye started attending Placerita Bible Church in nearby Santa Clarita. After slipping in unrecognized for two services, he approached the pastor and asked for some one-on-one discipleship.

“I spent about three hours just going through the gospel, making sure he understood clearly about the atonement of Jesus Christ, that God is holy, that we are sinners, that Christ came to die in the place of sinners, that by repenting and believing in him, we can have eternal life,” Pastor Adam Tyson said on the Pure Flix podcast. ”

“Hey, man. I told you I’ve been radically saved,” Kanye replied. “I believe that message and I wanna get that message out to the world.'”

Kanye began to hold worship sessions with fellow musicians, some of whom were already Christian and who had been ministering to Kanye behind the scenes. As the group grew, Kanye began inviting more and more people to the gatherings. Then he took the show on the road. The evangelistic rallies have been staged all over America.

“With God, I’ve been able to beat things that had a full control of me: that Playboy that I found…, the Hennessy was such a script out of a rock star’s life. Some people drown themselves in drugs. I drowned myself in my addiction. My addiction was sex. That was feeding the ego — but also money, clothes, cars, accolades.”

The story of Kanye’s conversion has been met with doubt by other Christians. Some think he’s only looking for the latest publicity stunt to rack up sales. Others described him as a wolf in sheep’s clothing.

But fakers don’t generally humiliate themselves with confessions of embarrassing sins. Also, Kanye, for the first time in his life, is no longer talking non-stop about his own greatness. He’s talking about Jesus. Such fruits seem inconsistent with an insincere conversion.

While Kanye has embarked on his own journey to Christ, his wife seems to be on something of her own journey. Gawvi reported that his popular song “Fight For Me” was inspired by the unexpected appearance of Kim at his hipster church in Los Angeles. Sadly, people weren’t welcoming. She came as a seeker, but they treated her as a sinner, Gawvi says.

Still, Kim continues to show signs of hope that she’ll come more fully into the Gospel. Last October, she had her three younger children baptized in the historic Etchmiadzin Cathedral in Armenia, publicly identifying herself and her family with Christ.

On the other hand, when Kanye urged his wife to stop dressing provocatively on her reality show, she pushed back and said she wasn’t ready to give up the style of dress he previously encouraged her to wear.

Kanye had been scheduled to release his ninth album, a project he entitled Yandhi, but that album evolved with his growing faith, his healing from mental illness, and his deliverance from addictions.

What dropped on Oct. 25 after many delays was something entirely different, an album so completely Christian that even some Christian buddies told him to tone down the hard sell. It was called Jesus is King.

It’s a remarkable album. Here was a hyperbolic megalomaniac who stormed out of the 2004 American Music Awards because he was “robbed” of the “best new artist” award, and all of a sudden, he’s talking, singing and rapping only about Jesus.

“God is using me to show off, I believe,” Kanye says. God “said, ‘Let me take this Nebuchadnezzar-type character (himself). Mental illness was something that was used to take my dome down.”

There is grumbling among the fans, especially over his public endorsement of President Trump, whom many in the African American community see as racist. There is talk about his fans bolting.

Kanye says he’s been “canceled” by culture, a term that means the masses have shut him down on social media and boycotted. But, he says he doesn’t mind.

For one, he is just now getting out of debt. When he catered to culture with sinful music, he was always in debt. Now with his shoe and clothing line Yeezy valued at $3 billion and more searched on Google than any other line, Kanye is finally debt free. He has purchased 1,400 acres in Cody, Wyoming, where he is developing sustainable farming to supply his American-based factory, which he plans to staff with former prison inmates who want a second chance on life.

Like Trump, he wants to bring factories — and jobs — back to America.

“People gave up on manufacturing and said let’s just manufacturer in China because that’s what seemed to be easier,” he says. “To me it’s important to bring jobs to America.”

With Jesus on his side, Kanye has big plans — really big plans.

“There will be a time,” he says, “when I will be president of the United States.”

Michael Ashcraft supports his writing ministry by selling bamboo steamers on Amazon.

Read about other Christian hip hop artists by clicking: 1K Phew –  Aaron Cole — Ada Betsabé – Andy Mineo – Bizzle – Canon – Cass – Datin – Flame – Gawvi – HeeSun Lee – Jackie Hill-Perry – JGivens – John Givez – KB – Lecrae – Lil T Tyler Brasel– MC Jin – NF – nobigdyl. – Propaganda – Ray Emmanuel – Ruslan – Sevin – S.O. —  Social Club Misfits – Steven Malcolm – Tedashii – Tobe Nwigwe – Trip Lee – Wande Isola – WhatUpRG

And secular rappers who have come to Christ (at least to some degree): Chance the Rapper — Kanye West – Kendrick Lamar – Snoop Dogg

And an overview article about the state of affairs in CHH: Christian Hip Hop in Controversy.

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