After rapper Kanye West debuted his brand new album, The Life of Pablo, at Madison Square Garden on Thursday, many Christians were surprised to discover CCM artist Kirk Franklin had lent his talent to the project.
The very first song on West's new album -- which the rapper described as a "gospel album with a whole lot of cursing"-- is "Ultra Light Beams," featuring Franklin, Chance The Rapper, The-Dream, Kelly Price.
Franklin appears at the end of the song, which includes a number of obscenities interlaced with Biblical terminology.
"Father, this prayer is for everyone that feels they're not good enough," the Gospel artist says in a prayerful tone. "This prayer's for everyone that feels like they're too messed up. For everyone that feels they've said, 'I'm sorry' too many times. You can never go too far when you can't come back home again. That's why I need faith. Lord, save war."
Weeks before the album dropped, Franklin made headlines after appearing in an Instagram photo alongside West, Andre 3000, Kid Cudi, Puff Daddy, 2 Chainz, French Montana and The-Dream.
"When I was sitting in the studio with Kirk-Kirk Franklin-and we're just going through it, I said, 'This is a gospel album with a whole lot of cursing on it, but it's still a gospel album,'" West stated in an interview on Big Boy Radio. "It's the gospel according to Ye. It's not exactly what happened in the Bible, but it's this story idea of Mary Magdalene becoming Mary."
West, who is married to controversial reality star Kim Kardashian, added that he believes that God has His hand on his new album, which he originally considered titling "So Help Me God."
"I'm only doing one percent, two percent of the work and God is doing the rest of the work," he stated. "[Kim's father] Robert Kardashian is making sure that all the deals is getting done. He's still doing deals for controversial black people from up in Heaven."
In contrast, Franklin is one of the most recognized names in Gospel music, with seven Grammy Awards and a number of chart-topping hits, including "I Smile", "Wanna Be Happy", and "Lean on Me".
During a recent interview with The Gospel Herald, Franklin revealed that he wrote his latest album, "Losing My Religion," in an effort to encourage Christians to focus less on the judgement and dogma surrounding religion and more on the grace of God and a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.
"Instead of allowing the love of God to compel people, we place too much emphasis on trying to control thinking and actions and developing discipline," he said. "When people fall in love with Jesus and realize how much He is in love with them, that affects how we live and what we do and how we think. So, we begin to read the Word, not as a manual on how to be better, but as a book of love letters. In the spirit of that love, we become transformed."
Franklin added that regardless of what project he's working on, his ultimate goal is to glorify God: "Sometimes...we find our identity in our art. But God didn't give us art to for that; He gave it to us so it could be an expression for Him, so that we could walk through that and speak through that. God's been really kind in giving me songs; I don't know why He's done it, but it's been the greatest gift He's ever given me besides my wife and kids."