Whether Kanye’s plea to God is to intervene because “the devil’s trying to break [him] down,” or that he (Kanye) is “tryna keep [his] faith,” Kanye West’s lamentations communicate his wrestling of succumbing to sufferings within the world. Despite the twelve-year span between “Jesus Walks” and “Ultralight Beam,” Kanye West’s rhetoric in both songs attempt to make meaning of theodicy—suffering; while simultaneously combating nihilism—the lack of hope. As a professed Christian who articulates the multiplicity of God through Jesus and himself (Kanye West), affirmed on his 2013 album Yeezus track, “I am God,” West complicates religiosity and self-consciousness. He does so by situating himself as both God and human; recognizing limitations of God who has yet to impact his situation as a Black man in America, and his human-self that operates as a venerated deity. West’s consciousness is an amalgamation of his warring with theodicy and nihilism. My essay implements a theo-rhetorical analysis of “Jesus Walks” and “Ultralight Beam” exploring meaning-making processes of locating God. In doing so, I define theodicy and nihilism as repelling mores that aid in self-preservation for West.
Marshall, Conā S. M.
"I’m so Self-Conscious: Kanye West’s Rhetorical Wrestling with Theodicy and Nihilism,"
Journal of Hip Hop Studies: Vol. 6
, Article 10.
Available at: https://scholarscompass.vcu.edu/jhhs/vol6/iss1/10