Kanye West and Johnny Cash Now Have This Surprising Thing in Common

Kanye West has been breaking all kinds of rules in the music industry lately. The rapper turned gospel artist has undergone a spiritual awakening and it has changed a lot in the way that he has been going about his performances.

While some of his efforts have fallen flat ā€” like an original opera that featured lackluster ticket sales and poor acoustics ā€” fans are giving him accolades for others. For instance, he recently visited a Texas prison that has many drawing comparisons between West and another iconic performer.

Kanye West visited a Houston prison to ‘offer hope’

Kanye West poses at the opening night of the new musical "The Cher Show" on Broadway.
Kanye West | Bruce Glikas/Bruce Glikas/FilmMagic

Recently, West paid a visit to Houston, Texas. The primary purpose of his visit was to drop in on Joel Osteen’s Lakewood Church and speak about his new spiritual path and perform some songs from his Sunday Service celebrations.

However, while he was in town, West went to several jails in the area to meet with prisoners and perform some songs. While some Texas-based policymakers had problems with West’s prison visits, others, such as Mike Berry, defended West’s actions by saying that he made a real difference in the day there. 

“Kanye West visited the Harris County Jail to offer hope and encouragement,” Berry stated, adding that if West visited more jails, there might be “less need” for the jails themselves. West himself hasn’t spoken out announcing any future plans to visit more prisons, but if the Houston visits were as popular as they seemed, he might make them a regular ritual.

After all, his wife, Kim Kardashian, is heavily involved in prison reform, and it is likely that her influence is rubbing off on West, at least a little bit.

Johnny Cash was known for his prison performances

There is another iconic musician who became well-known for his tendency to visit and perform in prisons. Johnny Cash, the “Man in Black” rose to fame in the fifties, touring with artists such as Elvis Presley and Jerry Lee Lewis.

However, Cash battled his own demons, including painful drug addiction, that claimed many years of his life. Cash found solace in helping others, especially those who were incarcerated.

His first prison performance was in 1957 but by far his most famous one was in 1968 when he visited Folsom Prison and recorded a live album there. His album At Folsom Prison is considered to be one of the greatest and most influential albums ever released, and Cash would forever be identified with the song “Folsom Prison Blues.”

As for Cash himself, he would continue to perform in prisons all across the United States and become an outspoken advocate for prisoner’s rights. 

Kanye West and Johnny Cash are both renegades

Granted, at first glance, Johnny Cash and Kanye West seem like total opposites. Still, the two have more similarities than what it might initially seem. In addition to their apparent shared enjoyment of performing in prisons, both Cash and West have cultivated an “outlaw” persona.

Both tend to live their lives a little bit outside of the lines that society has drawn, with fans never quite knowing what to expect. 

Johnny Cash passed away in 2003, and while it is too early to tell if West will continue in Cash’s footsteps and make performing in prisons a regular habit, he’s certainly off to a good start, emulating the Man in Black in the best possible way.