When Kanye West announced the name of his sixth album, Yeezus, in 2013, the reactions seemed overwhelmingly negative. Many people sounded off on the “Jesus Walks” rapper for likening himself to Jesus and complained of his arrogance. But the truth is, it could have been a heck of a lot worse. One of West’s former associates recently revealed the album’s original name and it’s… a lot to take in.
What Kanye West almost named ‘Yeezus’
The album was almost named “Thank God For Drugs,” according to Genius.
In early January, West’s former art director, Joe Perez — who reportedly worked with the artist on projects such as Cruel Summer and The Life of Pablo — shared visual concepts on Instagram for the album that would become Yeezus.
One post includes a mock cover that features an image of a CD case — like the final Yeezus cover. But the difference is that the title is scribbled across the top of the portrait in bold, blue letters. The back of the case also includes an image of a stick figure lying underneath a pile of prescription pills.
“Before naming the album Yeezus, the title was ‘Thank God For Drugs’ and featured artwork by [George Condo], Perez captioned the post. Condo also created visuals for West’s 2010 album, My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy.
Genius noted that fans had previously speculated on the forum KanyeToThe that West was considering naming the album “Thank God For Drugs,” but their comments didn’t gain much traction at the time.
It’s unclear what led to the name change, but West revealed the inspiration behind it at an event in 2013.
“Simply put, West was my slave name and Yeezus is my god name,” he explained.
Cyhi the Prynce, who is signed to West’s G.O.O.D. Music imprint, also talked to MTV about the title in 2013.
“A lot of people don’t know Yeezus if you break it down is: ‘Ye-Is-us,” he said. “I’ll break it down to you because I don’t care. Ye will let you sit there and beat yourself up about it. He ain’t gonna do no interviews. He gonna be like, ‘Yeah it’s Yeezus and that’s what it’s called and y’all gotta deal with it.'”
The follow-up to ‘Yeezus’ underwent many name changes
According to Billboard, West initially named his seventh album “So Help Me God.” Then he switched it to “Swish” before settling on “Waves.”
But the College Dropout rapper changed it again after receiving widespread criticism, including from Wiz Khalifa who targeted West for allegedly lifting the word from New York rapper Max B.
The end result was The Life of Pablo, which included popular records such as “Famous” and “Father Stretch My Hands, Pt. 1.”
West went on to release one more hip hop album, 2018’s ye, before switching to gospel music. In October 2019, West released his first full-length gospel album, Jesus Is King, to mixed reviews.
“With God, I’ve been able to beat things that had a full control of me,” West said in an October 2019 interview with Zane Lowe on Apple Music’s Beats 1 Radio.