In the lead-up to the album, Ye said he’s entering a new era of creation, one where he will no longer make secular music. In an interview with Zane Lowe, he even alluded to re-recording his old hits without the curse words.
I’ll be damned if that’s not an album I’d listen to immediately, so with that in mind, let’s look at the squeaky clean, Christian versions of Kanye’s previous hits. Simple, yet elegant, he names the album CleanYe West.
In the name of science, let’s go through CleanYe West track-by-track.
This one’s good. Kanye has slightly altered the lyrics of his 2007 radio smash from Graduation to illustrate how his faith in Christ has made him stronger. Simple enough. It works.
A reworking of “Clique” from 2012’s Cruel Summer, but from the perspective of Jesus shouting out his disciples: (“Ain’t nobody messing with my disciples, disciples, disciples...”) It’s goofy but endearing. Nothing too odd or noteworthy to see here. Yet.
Formerly an earth-shattering banger on which Kanye proudly reflects on his zeitgeist-defining douchebaggery, the new “POWER” is tweaked it significantly. Now, the record is about the power... of abstinence.
On the hook, Kanye spits:
“No one man should have all that power / When you’re horny just take a cold shower/ Stop trippin, I’m trippin off the power / Premarital sex is for cowards”
Middle school health teachers are gonna start playing this in sex-ed. Kanye is the new face of abstinence education. What a time to be alive.
4. “I Love It”
Mr. West changes the sexually charged hook from “You’re such a fuckin' ho / I love it” to “You’re such an awesome God / I love it.” He also changes his bars “I’m sick a fuck / I like a quick fuck” to “I’m a great pray-er / I love a great prayer.” But most notably, Lil Pump has been completely removed from the song. Because, as Kanye will tell Charlamagne in a 2020 appearance on The Breakfast Club: “Jesus HATED ‘Gucci Gang.’”
5. “I Am NOT A God”
This album’s most difficult task is amending the most blasphemous song on Kanye’s most blasphemous album, 2013’s “I Am A God” from Yeezus. Here, he shoehorns some subtle humility into the original lyric:
“I am NOT a God / Take your time with my damn massage / In a nice French restaurant / Take your time with my damn croissants”
6. “Heartless (A Judas Diss Track)”
Who would have thought the first diss track in Kanye’s career would be after he found God? And this is a scathing, BRUTAL diss track if I’ve ever heard one. Kanye repackages “Heartless” from 2008’s 808’s & Heartbreak, but instead of being about an ex-lover, now the record is about Judas and his heartless betrayal of Jesus. Someone finally took this motherfucker Judas down a peg. I don’t wanna spoil too much, but apparently, Judas is hiding a child.
7. “All of the Christmas Lights”
CleanYe West wouldn’t be complete without some holiday cheer, which explains Kanye turning “All of the Lights” into “All of the Christmas Lights.” Still an outside-the-box thinker, he begins the song from the perspective of Tim Allen in the beloved cinematic opus The Santa Clause, specifically the scene where he accidentally kills Santa.
8. “Gold, Frankincense and Myrrh Digger”
Yeezy frames the record as a cautionary tale about the gold diggers of the biblical era; women who only wanted to date Jesus for his gold, power, and social clout. Jamie Foxx is still on the new version, but no one has the heart to break it to him.
9. “Mercy (On My Soul)”
The G.O.O.D. Music posse cut “Mercy” now finds Ye humbly asking the Lord for forgiveness—and it still SLAPS. Big Sean, Pusha-T and 2 Chainz return with new verses. All three eventually file a lawsuit, alleging the recording process was a literal hostage situation.
10. “FortyDaysFortyNights (featuring Rihanna and Paul McCartney)”
“FourFiveSeconds” is now about Noah’s Ark. Rihanna croons the opening lyrics from the perspective of our creator: “I think I’ve had enough / I might start a little flood.” Kanye sings from the perspective of Noah, rapping about finding two of every animal. Paul McCartney just calmly plays his guitar, wondering where he went wrong these past few years.
11. “Ash Forehead”
The rock-infused, politically charged anthem “Black Skinhead” is now a delightful tune about Ash Wednesday.
“For my theme song / my nicest Church jeans on / my freshly-cut hair on / pardon I’m gettin’ my prayer on.”
Kanye also attempts to build a time machine out of cardboard and duct tape to go back to 2013 and take the original “Black Skinhead” out of The Wolf of Wall Street trailer since that movie is (to quote Kanye directly) “full of sinners.” He fails this mission because time travel is impossible, and Wolf of Wall Street is a masterpiece. Leo Slander will not be tolerated.
A new version of “Otis.” Kanye tinkers with this Watch the Throne single, which is now about the prophet Moses. The music video is Kanye dressed up as Moses leading the Jews out of Egypt. He has good intentions, but holy shit, it is deeply offensive.
Also, Chance the Rapper replaces JAY-Z because JAY-Z still wants nothing to do with Kanye and did you really fuckin' expect Chance the Rapper to NOT be on this album?
13. “Bound 2 God 2 Church”
Okay... He’s starting to get sloppy.
14. “I Thought About Hugging You”
A less violent version of the 2018 ye track “I Thought About Killing You.” In Anthony Fantano’s review, he declares this the worst track on the album, calling the song “the worst five minutes in American history.” While I think that’s too dramatic, this track is a skip.
15. “No More Parties at All, Stay Home and Read a Book”
Kanye takes “No More Parties In LA” and turns it into a song discouraging partying of any kind. Kendrick’s verse still has a bunch of blowjob references Kanye forgot to take out. Someone on his team really should have done something about this. A massive oversight.
16. “Rugrats In Paris”
Potentially the most baffling artistic decision on the album. It’s not even religious. But Kanye has taken “Ni**as In Paris” and changed the lyrics to make it about the 2000 animated classic, Rugrats In Paris. On paper, this sounds stupid, and it is.
BONUS TRACK: “Ultralight Beam”
Since “Ultralight Beam” was already a clean, religious song, Kanye creates a new version that’s about doing piles of cocaine at an orgy in Vegas. The track sticks out like a sore thumb and tarnishes the legacy of a recording that used to be beautiful. I don’t know what the fuck this man was thinking.
Despite negative reviews and an unforgivably misogynistic bonus track, CleanYe West is a HUGE hit with youth pastors. It’s like Thriller but for blonde dudes who wear fuzzy sweaters. They’ll blast the album and say things like, “Kanye isn’t your average rapper, he doesn’t talk about sex or drugs. He talks about the ‘dopest homie’ there ever was... Jesus Christ.”
Is CleanYe West the final nail in the coffin of the so-called “Old Kanye”? Or is it selfish of us to condemn Kanye’s new Christian “era” when his religious convictions have brought him peace, joy, and purpose? I’m not smart enough to answer these complex questions, but Rap Twitter is gonna have a fuckin' field day with this album.
May God help us all. Look out for CleanYe West next fall.