Rhymefest, a co-writer on Kanye West's "Jesus Walks," recently spoke about how the song has impacted West's career. The selection, which was released as a cut on West's debut album The College Dropout, was a "great" one from the start, according to Rhymefest.
"When you do great things, you know it," Rhymefest says in an exclusive interview with HipHopDX. "Whenever you make a song, you know when it’s special. After ['Jesus Walks'] was made, we knew it was special."
They knew it was a special track then, but Rhymefest says the song has also been impactful throughout West's career in different ways.
"Looking back on it, we would not view Kanye the same way without it," Rhymefest says. "Kanye would not have as many chances with the public as he has had without that critical piece of the puzzle. It touched people in a place where Rap music rarely touches people these days, and that’s the heart."
The song touched on Kanye West's religious views and his belief and hope that the song would impact his life in different ways. "I'm just trying to say the way school need teachers," West raps on the track. "The way Kathie Lee needed Regis, that's the way I need Jesus / So here go my single dog, radio needs this / They say you can rap about anything except for Jesus / That means guns, sex, lies, videotape / But if I talk about God my record won't get played? Huh? / Well, if this takes away from my spins / Which will probably take away from my ends / Then I hope this take away from my sins."
In 2011, West rapped about "Jesus Walks" and its impact on "Otis," a selection off his Watch the Throne album which was done as a collaborative project with Jay Z. "I made 'Jesus Walks,'" West raps on the song. "I'm never going to hell."
In 2013, West performed "Jesus Walks" with a person dressed as Jesus Christ during his Yeezus tour set. West spoke about the portrayal of Jesus Christ during a radio interview. "I had a friend of mine that's a pastor there as we started discussing how we wanted to deliver it," Kanye West said at the time. "My girl even asked afterwards, 'Is that weird if Jesus comes on stage?' They're like, 'No. We do plays all the time. People play Jesus. You know what's awesome about Christianity? We're allowed to portray God. We're allowed to draw an image of him. We're allowed to make movies about him. Other religions, you're not allowed to do that. That's what's really awesome about Christianity. That's one of the really awesome things.'"
Kanye West's The College Dropout was released one year ago today (February 10). For more on West's debut album, read HipHopDX's "Kanye West's 'The College Dropout' In Review: 10 Year Anniversary."
Additional Reporting By: Brandon E. Roos