While working for Kanye’s creative content company, Donda, as his art director, Joe Perez was involved with the creative conceptualization of the cover art for Kanye‘s album in 2013, which was not always named Yeezus. On Sunday, Perez, who has also designed for artists like Nick Minaj, Lil Wayne, and Pusha-T in the past, revealed the very different name Kanye originally chose for his sixth studio album. As pointed out by Genius, an extended version of this title was floating around on a Kanye West fan forum called “Kanye To The” back in 2013 before the album dropped under its ultimate name choice, Yeezus. “Ye album could always change titles but right now its either THANK GOD FOR DRUGS or BLACK AMERICAN PSYCHO,” wrote an anonymous user, and shockingly, they ended up being right. Though Ye of course did end up changing titles, Perez’s latest Instagram posts confirm that Ye almost went with Thank God For Drugs.
On Sunday, Perez posted the original album artwork for Ye’s project, which features the infamous clear CD case concept that eventually made the cut on the Yeezus cover, but with some changes. The red tape had not yet been added, and the original title, written in blue crayon-imitation font with a white outline, is sprawled across the top. “Before naming the album Yeezus, the title was ‘Thank God For Drugs,'” Perez points out. He credits Kanye’s former collaborator, George Condo, who is responsible for the My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy covers, for his artwork, as well as designer Virgil Abloh for his creative direction on the creation of the cover.
Kanye ultimately named the album Yeezus for many reasons, which he explained at the album’s listening party. “Simply put, West was my slave name and Yeezus is my god name,” he explains at the 3:05 mark. CyHi the Prynce, a G.O.O.D. Music artist, elaborated on the title to MTV. “A lot of people don’t know Yeezus if you break it down is: ‘Ye-Is-us,” he explained. “I’ll break it down to you because I don’t care. Ye will let you sit there and beat yourself up about it. He ain’t gonna do no interviews. He gonna be like, ‘Yeah it’s Yeezus and that’s what it’s called and y’all gotta deal with it.'” Kanye is likely quite glad he didn’t go with his first choice, since, these days, he is thanking God for getting him away from drugs. At the one year anniversary of his Sunday Service Choir, Kanye revealed that the gospel collective, “saved my life,” and “was the alternative to opioids.”