With the growing success of Kanye West's Sunday Service and his upcoming Easter Sunday performance at Coachella, I decided it would be a great time to reshare this post, about why I find a spiritual connection to Kanye West.
Original Post Date: March 14, 2018
I have never been a super religious person. I grew up Catholic attending church on Sundays with my family, I went through First Communion, I attended Bible camp and Bible studies, but I never felt a strong connection to religion. Even from a young age, I viewed religion as something to be scared of. Commandments and sins, judgement and repent- it scared me. I have always been a good person morally, why do I have to follow certain rules or a way of life that I may or may not agree with, just to be part of a religion or loved by God?
“We formed a new religion / No sins as long as there’s permission” - Lyrics from No Church in the Wild, Jay Z & Kanye West
When my mom was very sick with cancer, everyone told me to pray. Pray for her, pray for a solution, pray that she will heal, pray, pray, pray. So I did. I prayed that her cancer would go into remission. I prayed for her life. I prayed that I didn’t want her to be taken away from me. I prayed out of selfishness and I prayed for hope. You know what happened? Nothing. All the praying I did, wasted, as her cancer only got worse and she died, filled with the pain of cancer. This is what made me view religion in a negative manner. I prayed, and I thought no one answered.
“What happened to religion? Oh she lose it….” - Lyrics from Devil in a New Dress, Kanye West
I believe in a higher being and I believe in God. While I do not attend church or pray regularly, I know there is something more powerful in this universe, and ultimately, something or someone had to create us. I respect those who identify as religious, but I personally identify as spiritual, not religious.
As you may know, I’m a huge fan of Kanye West. I have written a handful of blog posts all about why I find him inspiring and why I like his work so much. I listen to Kanye daily, and his lyrics speak to me on a whole different level. In many of his songs, he references religion, and its intriguing to me, even as a person who does not identify as being religious. What I’m about to tell you may sound extreme, but its something that happened and moved me beyond words. I have wanted to share this for some time, but it never seemed like the right time, and in part I feel like I’m opening myself up to a lot of judgement by talking about religion, but it is what it is, I guess.
I recently was told about a Kanye graffiti near the Georgetown Graffiti Bridge by my friend, JRH Graphics, and after checking it out myself, and after a dream I had about Kanye West earlier this week where he gave me a USB filled with the songs on his upcoming, unreleased album, I decided it was the right time.
Picture by JRH Graphics at the Kanye Graffiti in Georgetown
A year and a half ago I went to Peru for the first time. We traveled to Lima and Cusco, and we spent a lot of time on tour buses and traveling taking in all the sights, so I spent a lot of time listening to my favorite album, The Life of Pablo, that had been released a few months prior, to pass all the time on the road. There was a new song that was added to the original playlist right before I left for Peru, Saint Pablo, that I couldn’t stop listening to. I consider it to be my favorite song on the album and I find it inspiring as he raps about his personal insecurities and opens himself up on a more personal level than his other songs on the album. The song’s chorus, “And you're lookin' at the church in the night sky / Wonderin' whether God's gonna say hi” was hauntingly beautiful to me.
During one of our days in Cusco, I decided to skip the tour for that day as I wanted to see the town and wander. Upon my day of wandering the colorful town of Cusco, I stumbled across a beautiful church, and something compelled me to go inside. I walked into the church and it struck me- the beauty of its interior- its stunning chandeliers, the gorgeous gold sculptures, and the paintings of Michael the Archangel gave me chills that left me feeling breathless and I burst into tears of amazement and feelings I can’t articulate into words. I have never experienced something like this before- being moved to tears for an unexplainable reason in a religious place. I was shocked in my reaction, but ultimately I felt like I was being consumed by a higher being, wrapping me in belief or awakening. We decided to stay for the beginning of the evening mass that was about to start, and I sat there listening to the choir, feeling like I had just experienced some sort of spiritual enlightenment.
Inside of the Basilica Menor de la Merced, Cusco Peru
“I’m praying that an out of body experience will happen, so the people can see my light, now its not just rapping…” - Lyrics from Saint Pablo, Kanye West
We left the mass and during our time in church, the sun had set and it was now night. I decided to take a picture of the church, to remember the experience, although I knew it is something I’d never forget. I took a few pictures, and when I looked at them to review, I was stunned to silence. There it was. One image from a handful I had taken had white dots all over it, like what you see when someone claims to have captured a ghost or a spirit in a photo. The dots varied in size and contrast, and were all over the image, especially seen against the night sky. None of the other images had these dots. It hit me- the Saint Pablo chorus literally coming to life, in this spiritual experience. "Yeah, you're lookin' at the church in the night sky / Wonderin' whether God's gonna say hi."
The regular images:
The unexplainable dots image:
I took this as a sign from God or higher being. Maybe it was my mom, or my guardian angel. Maybe it was meant to make me believe again, or to make me come to terms with my thoughts on religion. Maybe it literally was God saying hi. To this day I don’t have an explanation for my feelings or what happened or what it meant, but I remember it vividly. I truly believe that Kanye’s music had mentally opened my mind to experience this spiritual moment.
“I wanna talk to God but I'm afraid cause we ain't spoke in so long” – Lyrics from Jesus Walks, Kanye West
When I’ve talked with friends or coworkers who classify themselves as “religious” I have found the answer when I ask why they are religious, to be similar. They want something to believe in. I believe in the inspiration that is Kanye West.
“We on an ultralight beam / This is a God dream” – Lyrics from Ultra Light Beams, Kanye West
Blonde in the District