Jesus Is King: 10 Potential Features on Kanye West’s New Album
With the latest release from acclaimed rapper Kanye West just under a week away (hopefully) we have every possible question on our mind of what the album might sound like, from instruments and beats to the album artwork - but maybe the most important question is who will we hear on the album other than Kanye? While little is known about the content of the album other than it likely being heavily religious, it’s difficult not to get caught up in the hype and start speculating about what’s to come. So, with that in mind, here’s 10 features that might be on Jesus Is King.
Hip-hop's own crooner has been almost synonymous with the “new-Kanye-era” (everything after Graduation). This culminated in a collaborative album last year in the form of the psych-rock/hip-hop fusion Kids See Ghosts, which saw them both musically map out spiritual journeys of healing and self-love. In 2016, Kanye said the Cleveland-born hip-hop artist was the “most influential artist of the past ten years”. His appreciation of Cudi’s musical ability even extended to the point that he used a years-old vocal recording of his on the Yeezus track "Guilt Trip", even though the two had fallen out at the time. Cudi recently spoke to Complex about there being plans for Kids See Ghosts sequels, so clearly he is one of Kanye’s go-to artists to work with. Without a doubt, if there’s one person you expect to be on the latest Kanye album, it’s Kid Cudi.
Ty Dolla $ign
While Ty Dolla $ign’s collaboration history with Kanye might not go back as far, he is almost as likely as Cudi to feature on the new album. Having first worked with him for his 2015 song "Guard Down", Ty has quickly become a regular collaborator of Kanye’s, having been figured on six tracks on his last three albums. The R&B singer has an incredible ability to create catchy and hypnotic melodies, but Kanye seems to also particularly like the texture of his voice, often layering it with other artists at the same time. His vocals can also be found all over the leaked songs from the now-likely-scrapped Yandhi. While those songs are unlikely to find their way on to the new album, it does mean that they’ve continued to work together closely since the last release.
Chance the Rapper
It definitely wouldn’t be surprising if Chance the Rapper had a spot on Jesus Is King. Chance has mentioned he sees Kanye as a big brother figure in his life and is also a very religious person himself. Not only does Chance speak about his faith frequently in his own music, but his feature on the heavily-religious, otherworldly track "Ultralight Beam", just months before the release of his Grammy-winning mixtape Coloring Book, was arguably the moment that catapulted him into the mainstream. As recently as last weekend, he was performing his verse on the song at Kanye West’s Sunday Service in their hometown of Chicago. The reception to his latest album may have been mixed but a good feature on the latest Kanye project would likely get people back on his side.
The World Famous Tony Williams
He might not be as much of a household name as some of the other artists on this list, but if you’re fairly familiar with Kanye’s discography, you’ll be aware of Tony Williams. He has appeared, mostly as a background vocalist, in Kanye’s music since The College Dropout, having a part in over 20 songs of his. His most notable performance might be on the song "We Major", which features Kanye giving him a shout-out during the outro of the track. He’s also an integral performer during Sunday Service and as Kanye’s cousin, it seems likely that we’ll hear him in some capacity on Jesus Is King. But it’s not just a case of nepotism. After all, he sings quite beautifully, don’t you agree?
Kanye and Pusha T have a very strong working relationship. When Pusha first met Kanye in Hawaii during the recording of My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy he was just beginning his solo career, having decided to musically split with his brother and Clipse group-mate, Malice. Based on those studio sessions, Kanye signed him to his G.O.O.D Music label and featured him on his magnum opus, "Runaway". Since then, Kanye has made Pusha president of the label and he’s produced the entirety of his Grammy-nominated album from last year, Daytona. Supposedly, later this year Pusha T will release another Kanye-produced album. Would his snarly delivery and lyrics mesh well with what seems like a Kanye-styled gospel album? Maybe not. Then again, this is Kanye’s music, so we could be in store for anything.
Known more commonly as the choir singing at Kanye’s Sunday Services, The Samples are an ensemble of around 100 people that have performed and travelled all over America with Kanye since the turn of the year. The group even played at Coachella to a crowd of 50,000 people, roughly half the overall attendance at the festival. Going back all the way to "Jesus Walks", you can find Kanye utilising the sound of a choir in his music. While that song used a sample, he now has a whole choir completely at his disposal. Given that Sunday Service is the only musical thing Kanye has done this year, and this album (based on the title and the tracks) seems inspired by his spirituality, you’d expect that this collective of singers would feature on a few tracks at least.
The track "All Mine" was the most popular song on Kanye’s 2018 album Ye when it came out. But despite the incredible amount of listens it received, very few people could pinpoint who exactly was singing the hook. There were suggestions of Ty Dolla $ign, Jeremih, or even recent G.O.O.D Music signee Valee. The honour actualyl went to an artist many had never heard before, Ant Clemons. Even though many still don’t know his name, he has seemingly become Kanye’s latest protégé since then. He is a regular Sunday Service attendee, to the point that he was photographed for GQ Italia as one of the main contributors alongside Kanye, Tony Williams, and the Samples. He cites Kanye as one of his idols, and while recently more big-name artists have begun to collaborate with him such as Beyonce and Chance the Rapper, he still works with Kanye on an almost daily basis.
The pairing of the lead singer of Bon Iver and the Calabasas-based rapper is one of the best examples of amazing unlikely collaborators in hip-hop. One is an unassuming ‘indie’ folk-singer, and well… Kanye is Kanye. But both share a mutual love of pushing musical boundaries and not being defined by genre, and that is ultimately what makes them work together so well. They first met in Hawaii in 2010, after Kanye heard Vernon’s EP Blood Bank and flew him out. The rapper has since called Vernon his “favourite artist” and has worked with the singer in some capacity on every subsequent project of his. These days, it’s unsure whether the pair are still making music together due to a difference in 'energy'. However they are still supposedly friends, and both recently appeared on the song "Take Me to the Light" via their mutual friend Francis Starlite.
Ms. Lauryn Hill
Despite Lauryn Hill’s musical output over the last two decades being fairly limited, if there’s anyone to bring her out of retirement, it’s Kanye. There’s a lot of common ground between the pair. They’re both generational talents that have struggled with the trappings of fame. Both are no strangers to controversy and are seen to have gone ‘crazy’ by a large number of music fans. Both also appear to find solace in their relationship with God. Kanye has stated multiple times in songs about how influential he sees Ms. Hill’s music as, and on top of that, there are suggestions that he has at least been in contact with her recently. She sings prominently on a new Pusha T single produced by Kanye, and during his appearance on SNL last year, the rapper performed an unreleased song called "We Got Love" that ended with an existential voice note from the former Fugees member. Admittedly, it’s not a lot to go on, but it’s a lot more than we’re used to hearing from her.
Unlike the Lauryn Hill suggestion, this is pretty much just wishful thinking without any proof. But is it really too much to ask for? The last time we heard them together was when they appeared on Drake’s 2016 song "Pop Style". Even then, Hov only had two lines. The last time Jay was featured on a Kanye track was back in 2012 on the song Clique. In recent times, they haven’t always seen eye-to-eye but both have seemingly buried the hatchet since then. Last year, Kanye tweeted that a sequel to their 2011 collab album Watch the Throne would be coming soon. It largely seems like Kanye was just spouting his thoughts to the world, but what better way to tease that than having his ‘big brother’ appear on Jesus Is King.