Rappers and Religion
“I am a god, I am a god,” Kanye claims in multiple tracks on his album titledYeezus. To most, this statement, as well as the album title and religious iconography utilized in his performances on the Yeezus tour are simply comparisons, not meant to be taken literally. But a small group of people are taking these declarations to the next level, putting Kanye on a pedestal of worship with a religion called Yeezianity.
Yeezians want you to know that you’re a god, Kanye’s a god, everyone you meet is a god. They’re dishing out divinity like Oprah giving away cars. Where Christianity teaches to love others as Jesus loves you, Yeezianity promotes loving yourself as Kanye loves Kanye.
“You’re a god, Kanye’s a god, everyone you meet is a god.”
Is Yeezianity a real religion? Maybe, maybe not- even its creator, who wishes to remain anonymous, admitted that Yeezianity is currently more of a mildly satirical concept than an organized religion, though it could potentially grow into something more. While Yeezianity is still in its baby stages, the bridge between rappers and religion was built long before Yeezus.
KRS-One wrote a book titled the Gospel of Hip-Hop. Tupac is sometimes referred to as Black Jesus. Last year, Eminem released a single titled Rap God. Religious comparisons are often controversial, as they are problematic if taken at face value. To idealize problematic human beings in a state of religious worship is to excuse their flaws and to sanctify aspects of their character that shouldn’t necessarily be celebrated.
However, religious terms and iconography incorporated in rap music are not necessarily signs of a divinity complex or idolization. The stories and symbols are so widely known that rappers can use religious references to tell their own stories in an easily recognized parable.
“Rappers can use religious references to tell their own stories in an easily recognized parable.”
In relation to Black Jesus, Tupac explained, “I’m not saying I’m Jesus but I’m saying we go through that type of thing every day. We don’t part the Red Sea, but we walk through the hood without getting shot. We don’t turn water to wine, but we turn dope fiends and dope heads into productive citizens of society. We turn words into money. What greater gift can there be.”
Maybe like Tupac’s Black Jesus, Yeezianity isn’t so much about building Kanye up as an idol so much as using recognizable symbols to allow the listener to see something notable, if not divine, within themselves. Kanye’s declarations of divinity are intended to inspire self confidence in his fans, “if you’re a Kanye West fan, you’re not a fan of me, you’re a fan of yourself. I’m just the espresso.” Yeezianity is on point about one thing; even Kanye wants you to love yourself as Kanye loves Kanye.