Sunday Service has been a remarkably music-centric event – keep that focus, and Kanye’s return to Coachella could be the moment we’ve been waiting for
Treading the tightrope between preacher and performer, Kanye West’s gospel side is one of his strongest assets. Through the warped works of ‘The Life Of Pablo’, to ‘The College Dropout’ highlight ‘Jesus Walks’, Kanye’s a dab hand with a choir. That’s no more apparent than on Sunday Service.
Every week since mid-January, Kanye has been live-streaming a concert on his Instagram story, each one finding the rapper popping up alongside a gospel choir and a whole host of famous faces. Reworking old tracks into new, more praise-like versions, and debuting material which may or may not be from Ye’s long-awaited ‘Yandhi’ LP, it’s become the perfect Sunday evening hangover cure – a rare wholesome endeavour from the big-mouthed Yeezus himself.
Last night (March 31), it was revealed that Kanye would be bringing a Sunday Service session to Coachella on April 21. That’s Easter Sunday, fact fans. The sunrise set is a fair consolation prize, after it was reported that Kanye pulled out of headlining the fest proper at the eleventh hour. It’s also one to keep an eye on – a moment that might just kick off Kanye’s 2019 summer in the way we all deserve.
Ask any old-school Kanye fan, and they’ll likely admit 2018 was ‘a bit trying’. Sure, we got plenty of new music – from the downbeat ‘Ye’ to showstopping Kid Cudi collab ‘Kids See Ghosts’ – but, for the first time, the impact of those musical drops was dulled. Endless headline-grabbing spouts of stupidity found Ye vocally siding with Donald Trump, citing their shared “dragon energy” (nope, us neither) and donning a ‘Make America Great Again’ hat on numerous occasions. He even visited Trump in the White House, cuddling the US President in front of a sea of press photographers, resulting in one of the year’s most skin-crawling musical moments.
Sunday Service, by comparison, has been remarkably bullshit-free. He’s kept the focus on the music throughout, resisting the urge to use the social media platform as a way to peddle his loud, proud opinions – a seemingly mean feat, given the way Kanye’s used his Twitter over the last 18 months.
There’s been space for fresh voices, too, the likes of seven-time-Grammy-nominated producer Philip Cornish and rising singer-songwriter Ant Clemons given space to showcase their talents, while the choir itself is made up of session musicians and vocalists from listings app Jammcard. Who’ll make it to the Coachella stage is still up in the air, but “the old Kanye”’s dedication to undiscovered talent has been proven once again through his Sunday Services.
Perhaps the most impressive feat of all, though, is the way Sunday Service has faded softly into the background. After a year that saw Kanye grabbing headlines week in, week out, for all the wrong reasons (and, arguably, releasing some of his worst material alongside it), Sunday Service’s most appealing trait has been how quiet it’s all been – well, bar the time the police got called.
Sure, we all jumped at the news that he’d launched the damn thing, and the snippets of new material he’s seemingly aired through it, but its familiarity and regularity have become comforting, rather than controversy-courting. There’ve been no ‘MAD KANYE WEST RANTS’ or ‘CONTROVERSIAL OPINIONS’ to court. Instead, it’s been all ears on the music.
Better still, that music has been positively joyous. Free-spirited and spiritual, it’s Kanye at his most transcendent. Whether it’s reworkings of the likes of ‘Power’ and ‘Father Stretch My Hands Pt. 1’, or simply the congregation’s empowered expressions, Sunday Service has reminded us all why we fell in love with Kanye in the first place.
With all that in mind, Kanye’s return to Coachella looks set to be one of the weekend’s most redemptive moments. If he can keep his mind and his on the music, and avoid courting headlines when he steps up to that mammoth stage, Sunday Service might just be his moment of redemption. Whether we’ll get a new album as part of it is anyone’s guess, but with any luck, Easter Sunday might just see Yeezus rise again.