Church of Yeezus

Kanye West has been known over the course of his musical career to be an innovator, whether it comes to music or fashion. But since January of this year West has been working and performing a new type of creation. At his home in Calabasas, California, Kanye has been holding private worship performances that he calls “Soul-Sessions.” Performers dressed in monochromatic clothes sing reworked gospel songs as well as Kanye’s and other artists’ songs. At Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival on Easter Sunday the public was brought into Kanye’s intimate sessions when West brought his gospel filled presentation to the stage on a larger scale. The “Soul Sessions” are focused on spirituality, hence the strong gospel component throughout each session. Kanye has also been known to refer to his sessions as “Sunday Service,” denoting a church like aspect of his sessions, which usually take place on Sundays. However, in a non-church-like aspect, at Coachella Kanye sold his recommended “church clothes” as merchandise ranging from $50 for socks to $225 for shirts. Kanye selects the color palette that his choir wears as well as the color palette that those in the congregation must wear to the service. From looking at video of Sunday Service posted to social media, it seems as though only Kanye’s daughter North is exempt from his weekly clothing guidelines. Despite the religious sentiment, Kanye insists people of all faith are welcome to join in his message of love every Sunday. That is, people of all faith who Kanye invites to his Soul Sessions, which means that they are mostly likely celebs.

Despite Kanye’s obvious attempt to brand his Soul Sessions as a church and worship service, I believe that he has created his own elite cult. According to Google, a cult can be defined as, “A relatively small group of people having religious beliefs or practices regarded by others as strange or sinister.” So let’s see if the Soul Sessions qualify under Google’s guidelines. In contrast to most churches, which are open to the public, Kanye’s services are only open to those he invites. After being invited each guest must then sign a nondisclosure agreement, acknowledging that they will not speak to the press about the service. These precautionary steps make it seem as though whatever is taking place inside Kanye’s Sunday Service cannot be shared with the public – what is he hiding? Moving to the religious practices that are regarded as strange, it’s definitely odd that Kanye’s choir seems to be worshipping Kanye in certain ad libs of their songs, such as “Praise Yeezus.” Yeezus is the name that Kanye has self appointed himself in order to express the God-like parallels he believes he possesses. Also, in the spirit of being strange, selective and mysterious, the location of the Sunday Service changes every week. This has been attributed to West’s neighbors being annoyed by the noise of his sessions. However, I am going to take it further and state that it has to do with Kanye not wanting his sessions to be easy to track, hence the NDA needed to attend one. The fact that Sunday Service in name and in merit, is used to mirror an actual church service while Kanye lacks a degree to pastor in any aspect, could also been seen as problematic. So if it is Kanye’s goal to make his expression of faith accessible, it is probably not in his best interest to sell overpriced merchandise labeled as “Church Clothes” for his services. He also might want to consider making his Sunday Services less ominous and more open to the public. West also spends copious amounts of money on the venue and food for service goers as well as flying his entire choir to the location of that week’s soul session. For many people it is hard to digest the fact that a group of celebrities are able to spend hundreds on outfits to color coordinate for an exclusive service with an undetermined location. A group who then also believe they are helping the community. I think it’s clear to say that at least by Google’s definitions, that Kanye West is running a cult.