Is Kanye West’s New Jesus Is King Merch Blasphemy?
Even true believers are having trouble getting behind Yeezus’s WordArt.
God might be the only thing that Kanye West loves more than himself these days—and that’s saying something, seeing as West recently declared himself “unquestionably, undoubtedly, the greatest human artist of all time.” And yet, while Kanye pivots away from secular music, he’s staying true to his consumerist roots. Rest assured: The Jesus is King album cycle will still include copious amounts of merch drops.
A weekend’s worth of discourse about West’s album—reactions to the music itself and West’s newfound piety were mixed, to say the least—was reignited on Wednesday, with one Twitter user going as far to accuse West of “blasphemy” over a new set of t-shirts, sweatpants, crewneck sweaters, hats, and socks. Within just a few hours, it already seemed possible that the new merch—apparently designed by AWGE, A$AP Rocky’s creative agency—would prove even more decisive than the album it promotes.
From the look of the replies in a quickly ratioed tweet posted by West’s record label, Def Jam, there are three main points of contention—starting with the fact that the overall design aesthetic resembles a hodge podge of Microsoft WordArt gradient schemes, and ultra-pixelated images and clip art. Naturally, Jesus is a recurring motif—though in this context, even the clergy might have trouble recognizing him.
Rather than incorporate traditional likenesses of Jesus throughout the merch, West and AWGE piled them all onto just two crewneck sweaters. As for the rest of the pieces, well, they mostly feature either a swole Jesus or the potato Jesus meme that brought the Second Commandment to at least one Twitter user’s mind.
Some have also criticized the merch’s price tags. Sixty dollars for a Yeezy t-shirt and a digital album download—plus “presale ticket access to an upcoming Kanye West event,” whatever that means—is relatively reasonable. Scroll down to the $180 sweatpants or the $250 crewnecks, though, and you’ll see that West is really starting to push it. And for once, he’s provided an explanation why: “The IRS want they fifty plus our tithe / Man, that’s over half of the pie,” West sings on album track “On God.” “I felt dry, that’s on God / That’s why I charge the prices that I charge / I can’t be out here dancin’ with the stars / No, I cannot let my family starve / I go hard, that’s on God.” (He recently told James Corden that his faith is a party of why he’s currently millions and millions of dollars in debt.)
Pretty much everything else about the merch remains a mystery. Still, don’t be surprised if it immediately sells out, just like his $120 plain white t-shirt did in 2013.
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