“Ultralight Beam” is a plea, a confession, an anointment. It is gospel music that’s hollowed out. There is a choir and an organ, but they sound alone, as if transmitting from an empty heaven. Other voices tangle with faith in a time when God can seem most alive through the destruction of zealots; Kanye prays for Paris. Almighty death and inexplicable persecution cast shadows over this song, lingering in its empty spaces—these forces shape the stray glimmers that manage to break through.
Kanye is barely on “Ultralight Beam.” He asks for a few blessings, then goes away. Within the song’s realm, he is at once the higher power and the fallen. Perhaps he doesn’t feel like his voice deserves to be on a track that professes its belief with such clarity as it plays host to a 4-year-old possessed by the Lord and Kirk Franklin; perhaps he’s right. In his place, though, is a spiritual son. Chancelor Bennett was 10 when Kanye first made Jesus walk. He was raised on the sweet Kanye, the chop-up-beats Kanye, and now he is the closest we’re going to get to that holy ghost. In one virtuosic verse, Chance raps his redemption, how he was saved by God, by Kanye, by his baby daughter. He’s giddy, young. “Ugh, I’m just having fun with it,” he glows as a swell of brass joins his exaltation. Then those same horns dissipate, leaving Kanye alone with his cavernous choir once again.
Read more at: pitchfork.com