Bring Kanye West to Notre Dame Stadium 2021
Ryan Israel | Thursday, October 17, 2019
Last Friday, Notre Dame announced that Billy Joel would be performing in Notre Dame Stadium following in Garth Brooks’ footsteps as the second artist ever to perform in the legendary venue. While Scene offered up a number of Joel-related takes Monday, I’d like to offer a different response to the announcement — a humble suggestion as to which musical artist should be booked to grace the stadium in 2021. My suggestion: Kanye West.
Now I know what you’re probably saying right now — “Kanye West? The hip-hop artist? Isn’t he a bad guy?” Well, you’d be wrong to dismiss him so quickly as a worthy candidate to perform at Notre Dame Stadium. First, you should consider the full Kanye West story — a story of a saint turned sinner turned back into a saint, a story of redemption and repentance.
When Kanye West cut his teeth as an artist, his music was imbued with religious themes. Take for example the track “Jesus Walks,” which made waves in the hip-hop community for its endorsement of Christianity. “God show me the way because the Devil’s tryna break me down / The only thing that I pray is that my feet don’t fail me now,” he sings on the chorus, spilling lyrics that seem like they could have come right out of the Book of Psalms. Not only was Kanye’s early music religious, but his first three albums, “College Dropout,” “Late Registration” and “Graduation,” also offer a subtle critique on higher education in America, making a religiously-affiliated college campus the perfect place for him to perform.
As Kanye progressed toward super-stardom, his music became more depraved and “Heartless.” He turned away from God and towards the “Devil In A New Dress.” He even went so far as to proclaim “I Am A God,” a clearly sacrilegious statement. But let’s not forget Billy Joel’s “Only the Good Die Young,” a song with a strong anti-Catholic, pro-lust message. If Notre Dame can overlook “Only the Good Die Young,” surely they could overlook “I Am A God.”
But in recent years, Kanye has repented and turned back to the light of God. “Ultralight Beam,” off 2016’s “The Life of Pablo,” radiated with a gospel-inspired message; he dropped the line “Got a Bible by my bed, oh yes I’m very Christian” on “Kids See Ghosts;” he named his kids Saint and Psalm. There are also his spiritual “Sunday Service” performances which bring together prayer, celebration and Kanye West music. It’s true some have condemned him for selling ridiculously overpriced merch at these faux-religious ceremonies, but when you consider the fact that the bookstore pedals a $10,000 diamond-bedazzled football helmet only half a mile from the Basilica, it doesn’t seem all that bad.
Completing his return to the faith, Kanye has titled his upcoming album “Jesus Is King” — communicating a message Notre Dame can surely get behind. Hopefully, if Kanye comes to perform in 2021, the album will be out by then.
A few other reasons exist why Kanye should be invited to perform at Notre Dame Stadium. He’s from the Midwest, raised in the Windy City. Notre Dame can solidify its place as a premier Midwestern educational institution by inviting a premier Midwestern artist to perform. He also kind of looks like Billy Joel with his bald head and goatee. And while some may cite his controversial political statements as further reason to steer clear, keep in mind that Notre Dame has never shied away from inviting polarizing political figures to campus.
To be completely honest, I’m not a fan of Kanye West as a person, but I am a big fan of his music. Give me “Ultralight Beam” performed by Kanye, Chance the Rapper and a full gospel choir in Notre Dame Stadium, and I will cheer louder than I ever have at any football game. I don’t think Notre Dame would ever invite Kanye West to perform at the sacred house Knute Rockne built, but it sure would inspire some great Viewpoint articles if they did. The concert would also be dumb lit.