The Atlantic

Kanye West Strains His Voice on Jesus Is King

The rapper’s Christian album is not a departure from his values but an intensification of them: boldness over coherence.
Source: Amy Harris / AP

Why does Kanye West matter? One reason is that he’s made the world rethink the human voice. In the early 2000s, his take on the “chipmunk soul” style of rap production used classic vocals for the retro-future fun that pop culture now devours. He later presided over the evolution of auto-tune and other vocal-manipulation tools from being seen as pitch-correcting crutches to being seen as instruments with as much versatility as a guitar. He used his own voice in ways that seemed incongruous to pop, to musicality, and to celebrity: rapping through a wired jaw; screaming and panting and “Huh!”ing in hits; making ill-timed blurts about presidents and prizes.

In this way, West stayed on trend with broader advancements in or made , the ancient logic of songcraft and the steadying power of the rap beat were employed exactingly. Wilding out within boundaries is West’s appeal, and not coincidentally, all of pop music’s too.

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