On Christmas Day, Kanye West and his Sunday Service Choir dropped a brand new album titled Jesus Is Born, a tribute to the Christian holiday celebrating, fitting, the birth of Jesus. But you won't hear Yeezy himself laying down any bars on it. Instead, the 19-track album, which West executive produced but doesn't rap on, is pure exultation, spanning roof-scraping praise hymns as well as secular tracks repurposed into celebrations of faith.
You'll hear some familiar tunes. "Father Stretch" recreates West's The Life of Pablo track "Father Stretch My Hands Pt. 1" — which samples preacher T.L. Barrett's gospel staple of the same name — with the notable exclusion of West's infamous "bleached asshole" lyrics (and in fact, all traces of West himself). "Ultralight Beam" is here too, minus West and Chance the Rapper, and "Follow Me/Faith" takes the bass line from West's "Fade" — itself a sample from Chicago house track "Mystery of Love" — as well as the song's general structure.
But even with its secular interpolations (including of tunes by Sia, SWV, Soul II Soul, and Ginuwine), most of Jesus Is Born takes a definite, singular shape: nearly 90 minutes of praise, worship, and adoration for Jesus himself.
Jesus Is Born is the second release of 2019 for West and his gospel collective, which he first debuted in January 2019 and which has performed each Sunday. In April, West and the choir performed on a hilltop near the Coachella festival grounds alongside Chance, Kid Cudi, Ty Dolla Sign, and more. The choir also featured prominently on the kickoff track to West's ninth album, Jesus Is King, that dropped in October.
"It's just an idea we had to open up our hearts to make music that we felt was as pure and as positive as possible and just do it for an hour every Sunday, and have something where people can just come together and feel good with their families," West told David Letterman earlier this year about the Sunday Service Choir on an episode of Letterman's Netflix show, My Next Guest Needs No Introduction.
Listen to the full Jesus Is Born album above.