"Jesus Walks" was the third single from Kanye West's debut album The College Dropout. Released in 2004, the single peaked at #11 in the USA becoming West's fourth top-20 single; it also peaked at #16 in the UK. It is considered by critics to be one of his best tracks.
The song is essentially a spiritual one (an image of the statue of Christ the Redeemer
in Rio de Janeiro
appears on the single's cover), in which West discusses how Jesus
"walks" with all manner of people, from the law-abiding to the criminal. It also explains West's views on how the media
seems to shy away from songs talking about God
, while embracing songs discussing violence
, and illegal drugs
. This is shown in the lyrics "They say you can rap about anything except for Jesus/That means guns, sex, lies, video tapes/But if I talk about God my record won't get played?" The song was co-written with rapper (and close friend of West's) Rhymefest
and Mark Ronson
. The track is built around a sample from the ARC Choir
's "Walk With Me."
In total, three separate videos were made for "Jesus Walks", each funded by West himself. One depicting a black prison camp, a male and female drug runner and others, one of Kanye as a preacher in a Baptist
church and showing a prostitute, an alcoholic and a drug dealer going to pray in the church (this version is the one shown on MTV
, and Black Entertainment Television
), and one depicting the life of Jesus in the current day. The Video reached #8 on MuchMusic's 50 Most Controversial Videos for the religious topic, the Ku Klux Klan
reference, and the car chase scene. In the end of the video, West thanks Chaka Khan
through the poster of her, which he also did in "Through the Wire
Recognition and awards
At the Grammy Awards of 2005
, "Jesus Walks" was one of only two rap
songs nominated for Song of the Year
, following "Lose Yourself
" by Eminem
from the year before. West, Rhymefest and Miri Ben-Ari
won the Grammy Award for Best Rap Song
for co-writing the song's lyrics. "Jesus Walks" was nominated for several gospel awards before the awards committees learned that the song contained some explicit language, and removed it from these awards.
"Jesus Walks" gained West further mainstream exposure when it was prominently featured in trailers and commercials for the 2005 film Jarhead.
In 2004, Kanye West was filming the music video for this single, when the team from MTV's Punk'd
, posing as the Los Angeles Film Commission, shut down the shoot for violating a law about filming on Sundays without a permit. To the audience's amusement, Kanye stole the music video footage back from them and then jumped into his van for his safety until Ashton Kutcher
stopped the van. Rhymefest was the first to greet him as he stepped out of the van after learning he had just been Punk'd. Chris Milk
, who directed the music video, also told West that he already paid for the film.
- Jesus Walks
- Jesus Walks
- Jesus Walks
- Heavy Hitters (Clean)
- Heavy Hitters (Dirty)
- Heavy Hitters (A cappella)
Peak chart positions