Kanye West drops surprise album on Christmas Day

Titled 'Emmanuel', the five-track EP is the singer's first studio album in a year

(FILES) In this file photo taken on November 6, 2019 US rapper Kanye West attends the WSJ Magazine 2019 Innovator Awards at MOMA  in New York City.  US election day is quickly approaching, but this week has shown there's still plenty of time for dancing and video games on the campaign trail. / AFP / Angela Weiss

While many of us were unwrapping our presents on Christmas Day, Kanye West was busy releasing a surprise album.

Entitled Emmanuel, the five-track album was both written and produced by West, and was performed by his Sunday Service Choir, in what he describes as "ancient and Latin inspired new music."

The name of the album is taken from the Book of Isaiah.

Conceived as a "celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ", it is West's first studio album in a year, following the release of Jesus is Born on Christmas Day 2019. Also made with his Sunday Service Choir, West described it at the time as "an expression of the gospel" and it debuted at number 2 on the Billboard Top Gospel Albums chart.

West first embarked on his religion tinged music on Easter Sunday 2019, when he performed at Coachella with his Sunday Service Choir for the first time. In October 2019, he released a studio album called Jesus is King with which he described himself as a martyr cast out of the Christian world. This triggered a backlash from the American Christian community, many of whom felt West was comparing himself to Jesus.

At just five tracks the latest EP is short, lasting just 12 minutes. It opens with a track called Requiem Aeternam, then moves to one called O Mira Nox. Next is O Magnum Mysterium, which is followed by Puer. The final song is entitled Gloria.

West had promised a studio album for 2020, but it never materialised. Set to be called Donda, after the singer's late mother, it was plagued with delays, prompting West to instead release a single of the same name, as well as one called Nah Nah. He has also released Wash us in blood with Travis Scott.