Since January, Kanye West and his celebrity pals have been gathering for what West terms “Sunday Services”–a series of invite-only performances with religious-ish overtones. There’s a choir, decked out in matching Yeezy garb, and a gospel-tinged musical program.
So, is it really a Kanye West church? Let’s discuss what we actually know–which isn’t all that much.
Sunday Services have flown surprisingly under the radar by West-related standards, given the whole “invite-only” situation (our invite went missing, very weird) and a non-disclosure agreement that guests are reportedly asked to sign.
There’s no set location for the performances. He staged one at Adidas’ corporate headquarters in Oregon, others in Hollywood, and one at an outdoor location near Malibu.
Last Sunday’s event gave the general public the best glimpse into the project yet, thanks to social media posts from celebrity attendees, which included the Kardashian clan, Katy Perry and Orlando Bloom, Kid Cudi, Courtney Love, and Tyler the Creator.
Kim Kardashian West posted a video of rapper DMX offering a morning prayer.
— Kim Kardashian West (@KimKardashian) March 17, 2019
Other friends and collaborators have posted video snippets, including video of the music being rehearsed.
— TeamKanyeDaily (@TeamKanyeDaily) March 24, 2019
— The Wests (@kuwthewests) March 24, 2019
Kanye does a thing every week called Sunday service. All music. Very little Jesus stuff. 60 person choir. 20 piece band. Gospel songs, his songs, classics. I went last week. It was excellent. Kanye is wildly talented and sweet when he's not suffering from mental illness. pic.twitter.com/ARKZpp8AgO
— Neal Brennan (@nealbrennan) February 24, 2019
Much of the music reinterprets samples and source material that West has worked with in the past, giving a hint of the old chop-up-the-soul-Kanye that some fans have missed in recent years.
But, while there might be some hints of gospel and praise, the “service” portion of the event itself is reportedly not the center of attention. As Chappelle’s Show co-creator Neal Brennan notes in a tweet, there is “very little Jesus stuff.”
Writing for Kulture Hub, critic Joshua Eferighe expresses a note of skepticism about the spirituality-adjacent events: “The worst part about these Sunday Services is people’s quickness to assume that Kanye is reverting back to some idea of himself that they remember and love, when this couldn’t be farther from the truth.” He adds that West “dupes people every time he chops up soul samples or incorporates some gospel undertones into his music. […] This is the same Kanye that dissed Obama, released the flop that is Ye, and sells overpriced clothes. It’s time we start treating him according to what he’s showing us, not what he’s done.”