Jesus Walks

Album: The College Dropout (2003)
Charted: 16 11
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  • This song talks about society, racism, and war with ourselves. It decries what rappers typically talk about, which is sex, drugs and money. >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Justin - Springfield, MO
  • Rapper Che Smith, who goes by the stage name Rhymefest, wrote this song with West. In the February 24, 2006 Guardian newspaper, he said: "Kanye and I grew up together. I found a gospel song by a choir of reformed drug addicts in New York. Even though I'm not a Christian it moved me and the beat was kinda like a rap groove. We jacked the whole song but it came to life when Kanye added the army sounds and made it like God's soldiers. Then the writing began. If you make the verses about Jesus it takes away the power of the chorus, so the verses were the sinner speaking. We got the 'Niggas' sound from a Curtis Mayfield song. When we write together we'll listen to a beat and I'll come up with a line and he'll flip it around into something else, then I'll add more lines and before you know it we got a song. Kanye will remember each way we flipped it; he has an ability to memorize. I look at it like this: that was not my record and not Kanye's record; that was a record from the creator to his creations. I'm grateful."
  • Kanye West knew the challenges of getting "Jesus" on secular radio; when songs in the past referred to Jesus, they had to say, "He" or "Him" (and somewhat recently "God" is being accepted) but never Jesus. In his second verse he challenged radio stations with the following lyrics: "So here go my single dawg radio needs this, They say you can rap about anything except for Jesus. That means guns, sex, lies, video tapes, but if I talk about God my record won't get played, Huh?" His strategy worked - not only did he get "Jesus" on the radio and on MTV, he also won three Grammy Awards in 2005 as a result. >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Nikki - Chicago, IL
  • This song meant so much to Kanye West that he made three music videos for it, using over one million dollars of his personal money. One video was for BET, one for MTV and one for >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Nikki - Chicago, IL
  • A breakdown of some of the lyrical references in this song:

    "I walk through the valley where the shadow of death is" is taken from the 23rd psalm in the Bible ("Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me.")

    "But I'll be gone till November" is a reference to 1997 song of the same name by Wyclef Jean.

    "My feet don't fail me now" is a runner's slogan popularized by track and field star Bruce Jenner in the 1976 Olympics. Jenner wore the message on a sweat shirt and went on to win the Decathlon. The expression was originally the catchphrase of Birmingham Brown (played by Manton Moreland), the manservant of Charlie Chan in 1930s detectives movies. Like the character of Chan himself, Brown was a racial stereotype. He always uttered this phrase in exaggerated fear when preparing to run from danger. Eminem used the phrase in his song "Lose Yourself"

    "Wanna see thee more clearly" is taken from "Day By Day," a song sung to Jesus in Godspell, the 1971 pop musical based on the Gospel of St. Matthew.

    "The way Kathy Lee needed Regis" refers to Kathy Lee Gifford, an American TV personality whose career suffered when she left the show she hosted with Regis Philbin.

    "Guns, sex, lies, videotape" is a reference to the 1989 cult film Sex Lies and Videotape directed by Steven Soderbergh. >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Bertrand - Paris, France
  • The album was nominated for several Stellar Awards, which honor musicians and songwriters in the gospel realm, including Best Gospel Rap Album, but was pulled from the ballot after several complaints. As the Washington Post noted, one outraged Christian at furiously typed, "Lord, please help the Stellar Committee and deliver them from ignorance and commercialism in Jesus' name!!"

    But Rev. Tony Lee, who met the rapper when he performed at Ebenezer AME Church in Fort Washington, disagreed: "It's a challenge when Kanye could talk about drugs and guns and violence and he wouldn't get half the flak that he gets for talking about Jesus," he said. "My question is what statement is the church sending to a person like Kanye who is trying to reach out? He comes for the sinners and he comes for the sick, and we are upset because he is not coming in the usual way."
  • West sang a gospel version as part of his Sunday Service project, which he started on January 6, 2019 in his Calabasas home. The location of the weekly service varies, but always caters to an exclusive audience that shows up to hear gospel-soul makeovers of songs by Kanye and his contemporaries, as well as faithful renditions of traditional gospel tunes. Despite its Christian theme, it's a church service where music is the religion of choice.

    The rapper told David Letterman: "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."

Comments: 14

  • Markantney from Biloxi, MsJul 2014,

    Jessica, though the song is excellent and Ground-Breaking, there have been other Rappers Rap about Spirituality, some positive and some not so positive.

    Not to list them all but RunDMC did similar and it sold quite well, not on Kanye's Level in sales or lyrics directly referencing but the song was called, "Down With the King".
  • Markantney from Biloxi, MsJuly 2014,

    -j, Norfolk VA, perhaps more should but if it doesn't sound authentic (like this song SURELY does) it won't come across well and it would soon dilute the

    I don't really need them praising the creator as much as I wish they didn't rap about: $$$, Clothes, and O's, as if they WERE their G-ods.

    That's why I like(d) Pac, Ice Cube, KRS, Rakim, MC Lyte, Geto Boys, Goodie Mob, Outkast, Kanye,...they rap about a lot more than material things and instant gratification.

    I like the Beasties and Enimen also, for how they didn't try to be or act "urban" and they too rap about a variety of topics. I'll never forget seeing the Beasties for a hot second in the 80s movies "Krush Groove" and then that album about a year later, "Licensed to Ill", true pioneers.
  • Illuminati Spam from Kentucky, Kywhen you try to speak out you get swallowed and shyted out.Kanye started off with his head on his shoulder but the devil broke him down. A barrel in a cup full or only the love a mother can give her son. Dont get caught up in the good life
  • Moni from Los Angeles, CaThe last comment is stupid. Women play men and men play women in all races. Black men seem to need to berate the sister on a national level.
  • Se7 from Pomona, Cahmmm For some reason i get the idea that this song is being discussed by a group of people who dont listen to rap... but i could be mistaken... however, allow me to retort: YES.. this tracc is about the typical sex drugs and money... to the average idiot who doesnt listen to it. see, the problem is that we are on opposite sides of the glass. you see rappers talking about b*tches and hoes and guns and drugs and gangs and believe that we are advocating or celebrating these things. we say these things because these "women" wil tell you they love you every day while s*ccin another d**k when you bacc is turned and may even set you up... i call that a b*tch and you would too. if you walk down my street and you dont have a gun, violence may occur and it WONT end in your favor. we simply understand the existance of these things and comment on them as dan rather does on the news. since you are too close minded, stereotypical and sheltered to understand this, you simply berate it as oppose to strive to understand.. this is typical of ignorance. At any rate, this is an OK song at BEST... its GREAT for what it accomplished but average in its actual lyrical content. but of course, it seems different, and positive, so "WE MUST SUPPORT POSITIVE RAP".. not realizing that this SAME song is anti-government.. saying negative things about white and blacc people alike and actually perpetuates more hate than good... but you hear "jesus walks" and say "YAY KANYE!".. Congrats! You all fit the statistic.
  • Nicole from N/a, WiHey Nikki, your comment is great. I don't know what else to say about the song, other than he made an awesome song to be played on almost all stations and tv channels for all the world to hear. Kanye has such great words to all his songs. Much love to Kanye for the guts to write this and to have just made him stronger as a rapper and a person.
  • Jessica from Broken Arrow, OkThis might be my favorite song ever. West did something that other artist have never done. Alot of them say they believe in god, and that they thank him for what they have, but they never show it in their work. Great job Kanye!
  • Tristan from Sydney, Australiabest hip-hop lyrics of this era maybe ever, kanye puts many great points into this song and it comes off briliantly. im a rock fan but Kanye west is a legend and deserves everything he gets.
  • Nikki from Chicago, IlChicago Rapper, "Rhymefest" co-wrote Jesus Walks, so he received a Grammy Award in 2005 for that. Rhymefest won a Grammy before his own album ever came out. Kanye West and Rhymefest worked together for Kanye West's sophomore CD, "Late Registration" but that song didn't make it to the CD. However, Kanye West and Rhymefest recorded a song called, "Brand New" that is on Rhymefest's CD entitled, "Blue Collar".

    Then I hope it take away from MY sins
    And bring the day that ?m dreamin about
    Next time I'm in the club everybody screamin out
    jesus walks
  • J from Norfolk, Vai think alot more rappers should rap about god rather than gangs,sex,drugs,etc.
  • Jazzz from Frankfurt, Germanyi´m amazed he had the guts to stand up to his faith- even if it would have cost him. As controversial as he is- I think it is extremely cool that Kanye professes his love for Christ and doesn´t mind the criticism. Jesus really does walk with him! Jasmin
  • Liz from S Windsor, CtNikki- I never thought about that line like makes alot of sense tho
  • Nikki from Chicago, IlWhen Kanye West performed this song on 'Regis and Kelly' he didn't change the line, "The Way Kathy Lee needed Regis, that's the way I need Jesus", so when he finished performing, Regis said, "Did you say Kelly and Regis?", Kelly replied, "He didn't say Kelly", then Kanye West began to explain, "I said, 'The way Kathy Lee needed Regis, that's the way I need Jesus, because although Kathy Lee needed you, and she's gone, the show still goes on, and it's the same with me. I need Jesus, but even when I'm gone, His show is still going to go on."
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