Taken from the Daily Telegraph......
'First he brought us Jesus Walks; then college dropout Kanye West courted controversy by appearing on the cover of Rolling Stone magazine as Jesus Christ himself. Now he is apparently claiming that he should be a character in The Bible. Is Kanye making a valid point by portraying himself as a black Jesus?
Covered in blood, Kanye West is shown wearing a crown of thorns on his head in the deliberately provocative picture by photographer David LaChapelle. Amazingly, Kanye claims that his life is similar to Christ's, saying that he has had to fight for recognition and suffer for success. "If I was more complacent and started to let things slide, my life would be easier, but you all wouldn't be as entertained. My misery is your pleasure", he is quoted as saying.The Boston Globe sums up the views of many when it says: "The idea that West, a 27-year-old rapper who's a millionaire many times over, is somehow persecuted is preposterous. Rolling Stone is trying to sell a few more mags by posing Kanye West as Christ on the cover... Here's hoping it doesn't work."The Baltimore Sun says: "Perhaps he meant it as a symbol of personal suffering. Maybe he wanted to present young hip-hop heads with an updated image of the Son of God. Whatever his motives, Kanye West again has accomplished what he set out to do: Get people to talk."
Kanye is not the first rapper to liken himself to Jesus.Jay-Z famously calls himself Jay-Hova, the savior of rap. In "Pain In Da Ass" he says: " Hello, it's Hova; that's right young'un the wait is over;The new millennium is upon us, the album is here."There have been others: Mase appears on an album cover as Jesus, and P Diddy appeared on the cross in the Nas "Hate Me Now" video. Even Michael Jackson has a picture of The Last Supper over his bed with Jackson sitting in Jesus' place.
There is an increasing trend of portraying Jesus as a black man. How accurate is the traditional portrayal of Jesus? What color was the original Christ? It can almost certainly be said that Jesus would not have been white. His hair was also probably cut short, unlike the image shown in most western portraits. Jesus did have some African links — after all, as an infant he fled with his parents to Egypt where, presumably, his appearance did not make him stand out. The recent movie "Son of Man" casts Jesus as a black, street-bred South African, challenging Hollywood's depiction of a western-looking Jesus. In the film Christ wears jeans and a T-shirt, is born in a shanty-town shed, and his mother Mary is a feisty virgin who argues with angels. Another movie, "Color of the Cross," features a black actor portraying Christ. "It's more likely that Jesus was black than it was that Jesus was European" said one of the movie's producers.
Sneaker maker Pony used an image of a black Jesus in an advertising campaign to relaunch the brand as an 'athletic shoe with attitude'. The ad's art directors Fred and Farid defended the image by claiming "The black Jesus is the strongest statement we found for this hip-hop brand. It's saying: 'Why should God be always represented by a white guy?' In some ways, it's a very politically correct ad. More shocking than this picture is the fact that most of the churches around the world still have only a white man as the representation of God. It's also a reflection of the open-minded philosophy of the Pony brand. It's even fairer considering the fact that most of the sports athletes and hip-hop artists on the walls of teenagers' bedrooms are black."The Pony campaign, shot by 50 Cent's photographer Sacha Waldman, was chosen as one of the best print campaigns of the year, even though the ad was not run in the US.'
The Daily Telegraph (2009)