Gospel, a.k.a the good news. With this simple designation I can truly articulate what "Ultralight Beam" is to Kanye's fans and the music industry.
The Life of Pablo, Mr. West's seventh studio album, was released Valentine's Day 2016 to a globe full of anxious listeners. Everything from the lyrics, the message, the release, the production, to the sales has been analytically criticized. People have reviewed the album track by track hundreds of times. It is the topic of discussion, and rightfully so.
The Life of Pablo is reminiscent of MBDTF what with its extensive features, impressive production and ability to grasp a listener by the soul. Resemblance can also be drawn to Ye's early days due to its "College Dropout" feel.
In particular what drew everyone back to the "Jesus Walks" era was the opening track, "Ultralight Beam". This gospel-influenced, soul-packed, hip-hop joint features Chance The Rapper, The Dream, Kelly Price and Kirk Franklin.
There's an immediate sense of nostalgia when we hear 4-year-old Samoria Green praying to God with the conviction of a life-long believer. The Instagram video and sample for the track is easily relatable for anyone who grew up in and played church around that tender age.http://scontent.cdninstagram.com/t50.2886-16/12630048_836340023158446_112691216_n.mp4
Kanye's prayer in verse "Deliver us serenity/ deliver us peace/ deliver us loving/ we know we need it/ you know we need it/", is a cry for the help that only God can deliver, for humanity as a whole. The lyrics, "We on an ultralight beam/ we on an ultralight beam/ this is a God dream, this is a god dream/ this is everything", repeated throughout the song, seem to be a prayer of thanks for the positive and productive journey God is willing and bringing to life. It's an acknowledgement of the security granted knowing that God's will, in the end or in between, is always carried out.
The Dream's verse reads as follows:
I'm tryna keep my faith
But I'm looking for more
Somewhere I can feel safe
And end my holy war
He, as well as Kanye, come in a little soft spoken but with great impact. The Dream's lyrics are an acknowledgement of that internal battle that every Christian faces. The one between the old flesh and the new. The biggest war any one of us is facing is that holy, internal war with ourselves. Faith is hard to hold onto with the temptations of the world.
Then, magnificently, Kelly Price comes in to deliver a sermon with her angelic voice and take everyone all the way back to that one Sunday service God intended especially for you. Her verse is a prayer we are all too familiar with. It begins with interrogation and desperation, seeking answers for the downpour of depression and evil, but transforms into a surrendering. There is a surrender from attempting to look for solace or peace from any other source but God's beautiful light.
Arguably the best feature on the entire album, an incredible standout performance, Chance The Rapper surfs into the song and drops bars harder than what's been common as of late in the rap world.
Swearing allegiance to God, agreeing to shield his name, field the questions of his people and fight his greatest enemy (the Devil) and his army of demons, a further understanding of Chance's relationship with God is illustrated in the first few bars. He then goes on to provide ingenious wordplay and poetic justice while covering major key points:
-He's leading this generation of artists to independence and freedom much like Harriet Tubman
-Although he's not, his daughter is masked from All of The Lights
-He isn't afraid to bring God, one of his biggest muses and influences, into the world of hip-hop (He made Sunday Candy, he never going to hell)
-He's met one of his heroes Kanye West, possess an astonishing 5 credits on his album, and convinced him to include one of the best tracks on the album
-He'll continue to make his music free for everyone to enjoy, even if it means no Grammy (according to rules, nominations are only for "for sale" material)
-His gift is one from God and he plans on using it forcefully (as we all know)
-He's going to be a part of bringing Chicago back to glory
-Wesley and Spiek tried it with Chiraq
-You cannot mess with God's will (i.e. look at how far Chance made it form 79th Street in Chicago)
Throughout the song we are graced with the majestic sounds of a choir that I can only describe as sent from Heaven. The spiritual awakening that ensues as a result of their melodic undertaking is frankly unbelievable.
Finally, as the song draws to an end, Brother Kirk Franklin delivers the closing prayer. Thankfully, Kirk ignored and/or welcomed external backlash from some of the Christian community, and joined this masterpiece. His prayer, as are so many of his, is one we can all agree on as the one to petition on behalf of the group to the all-knowing ears.
Orchestrated and engineered by an overwhelmingly talented and creative group of artists, Ultralight Beam is the good news. It's the greatest news the
rap music game has heard in 40 days and 40 nights.
Check out an edifying performance of the track right here:http://www.nbc.com/saturday-night-live/video/kanye...