Wash Us in the Blood

Last updated
"Wash Us in the Blood"
Wash Us in the Blood cover art.png
Single by Kanye West featuring Travis Scott
from the album Donda: With Child
ReleasedJune 30, 2020
Genre
Length3:10
Label
Songwriter(s)
Producer(s)
  • Kanye West
  • Ronny J
  • Dr Dre
  • Dem Jointz
Kanye West singles chronology
"Closed on Sunday"
(2019)
"Wash Us in the Blood"
(2020)
"Ego Death"
(2020)
Travis Scott singles chronology
"TKN"
(2020)
"Wash Us in the Blood"
(2020)
"Wavy (Remix)"
(2020)
Music video
"Wash Us in the Blood" on YouTube

"Wash Us in the Blood" is a song by American rapper Kanye West, featuring vocals from fellow American rapper Travis Scott. The song was released as the lead single from West's upcoming tenth studio album, Donda: With Child , on June 30, 2020. The song was released alongside an accompanying music video, directed by Arthur Jafa. It contains production from West, Ronny J, BoogzDaBeast, FnZ, A.G., Dem Jointz, and Israel Boyd and was written by West, Travis Scott, Aaron Butts, Mark Mbogo, and all of the song's producers.

Contents

Background

On November 25, 2019, West premiered his Christian opera Nebuchadnezzar, which included "Wash Us in the Blood". [1] In April 2020, GQ journalist Will Welch reported that he had heard several new songs while in Mexico with West. Welch shared the lyrics to the song's chorus and compared its industrial sound to West's sixth studio album Yeezus (2013). [2]

Composition and lyrics

"Wash Us in the Blood" is an industrial hip hop [3] and club [4] song with production reminiscent of Yeezus through its "splintering electro-styled beats." [5] The song opens with West "rapping in short, repetitive bursts, drawling the end of his lines" over bongos [6] [7] before introducing a pounding breakbeat, industrial synth lines and a two-note siren motif reminiscent of his songs "I'm In It" (2013) and "Feedback" (2016) complemented with white noise and throaty vocal samples. [4] [8] [7]

Lyrically, it implores God "to deliver black America from evil" through Jesus's sacrifice while discussing mass incarceration, slavery, genocide and drug-dealing. [9] [7] Travis Scott performs ad-libs and delivers a brief, "characteristically woozy" verse in which he criticizes capital punishment. [6] [10] [8] West evokes U.S. President Donald Trump's criticism of the media and fake news [11] and attacks record labels for trying to "sign a calm 'Ye" as well as others who want him not to be himself. [7]

Reception

Professional ratings
Review scores
SourceRating
The Guardian Star full.svgStar full.svgStar full.svgStar full.svgStar full.svg [4]
NME Star full.svgStar full.svgStar full.svgStar full.svgStar empty.svg [7]

Ben Beaumont-Thomas gave the song a perfect 5-star rating in his review for The Guardian , hailing it as "one of [West's] most focused and arresting tracks for years" and "an intensely potent study of race and faith." [4] Sam Moore of NME called it "a glorious return to 'Yeezus'-era chaos" and added that it "thankfully proves that even 2020's passionately non-secular Kanye isn't done yet with challenging and provoking his listener." [7] Jason Lipshutz of Billboard described it as "a return to the boiling anger that made 2013's Yeezus so kinetic," praising West and Travis Scott's "fiery examination of injustice." [12] Conversely, HipHopDX writer Devon Jefferson called it a "watered down" version of "Black Skinhead" (2013). [13] Complex 's Eric Skelton opined that "it contains many flaws" and "sounds unfinished," but nonetheless concluded that "it's encouraging to hear Kanye experiment on a song" and that "there are moments where he sounds more creatively charged than he has in quite some time." [11] Craig Jenkins of Vulture also viewed it as a return to form as well as "a smoother pairing of West's newfound faith and existing politics," albeit one where he "[recycles] ideas [he's] already perfected elsewhere." [14] Writing for Pitchfork , Hubert Adjei-Kontoh remarked that it "feels more like a tossed-off sketch than a meticulous portrait," citing its "parodic" social commentary. [9] Gavin Haynes of The Guardian claimed that the song "has all the commercial potential of a Metal Machine Music B-sides compilation," likening it to "someone pouring a baby into the bear enclosure." [15]

Commercially, "Wash Us in the Blood" debuted at number 49 on the US Billboard Hot 100 after a late-week release. [16] During the tracking period, it received 6.3 million streams and sold 18,000 downloads. The song became West's 108th entry on the Hot 100, tying him with American singer Elvis Presley for the 6th most appearances in the chart's history. It topped the US Christian Songs, Gospel Songs, Christian Streaming Songs, Christian Digital Song Sales, Gospel Streaming Songs and Gospel Digital Song Sales charts at the same time, following on from West's single "Follow God" (2019) as his second track to top all six of the charts and giving Travis Scott his first appearance on the charts. By debuting at the summit of the US Gospel Songs chart, the song ended the single's 35-week run at number one. The song opened atop the Digital Song Sales chart, becoming West's sixth number one on the chart and Travis Scott's second. [17]

Music video

The music video, directed by Arthur Jafa, uses a split-screen presentation and features violent imagery. Wash Us in the Blood excerpt.gif
The music video, directed by Arthur Jafa, uses a split-screen presentation and features violent imagery.

In an interview via Instagram Live with French artist Michèle Lamy on May 25, 2020, cinematographer Arthur Jafa revealed that he had recently shot a music video with West for the lead single from his upcoming album. [18] A music video for "Wash Us in the Blood" premiered at 10:00 a.m. EDT on YouTube. [5] It uses split-screen presentation and features footage of police brutality, the George Floyd protests, church services, a gospel choir, Breonna Taylor dancing, Ahmaud Arbery soon before his shooting, scenes from Grand Theft Auto V and computer-generated images of West before ending with a video of his daughter North at a rehearsal for his Sunday Service Choir. [19] [10] [20] [21] [22]

Critical reception

BBC arts editor Will Gompertz gave the video four stars out of five, asserting that "it is a good film," albeit one inferior to Jafa's earlier work such as Love is the Message, The Message is Death (2016) and The White Album (2018) due to the associated song's position as its most important element. [23] Jon Caramanica of The New York Times judged that "Jafa's video collage of trauma and exuberance remains effective here." [24] However, Adjei-Kontoh panned the "risible" film for juxtaposing clips of Taylor and Arbery with video game footage and viral videos, which he argued reduces Black life "to digital death and instant commodification." [9]

Personnel

Credits adapted from YouTube. [25]

Charts

Chart (2020)Peak
position
Australia (ARIA) [26] 31
Belgium (Ultratip Flanders) [27] 17
Canada (Canadian Hot 100) [28] 77
Ireland (IRMA) [29] 32
New Zealand Hot Singles (RMNZ) [30] 4
Portugal (AFP) [31] 98
Swedish Heatseekers (Sverigetopplistan) [32] 20
UK Singles (Official Charts Company) [33] 51
UK R&B (Official Charts Company) [34] 33
US Billboard Hot 100 [35] 49
US Christian Songs ( Billboard ) [36] 1
US Gospel Songs ( Billboard ) [37] 1
US Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs ( Billboard ) [38] 20
US Rolling Stone Top 100 [39] 37

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