There’s no doubt that faith has played a huge role in Kanye West’s life and music. He shot to megastardom with tracks like “Jesus Walks,” posed as the title prophet on the cover of Rolling Stone, and has even given himself his iconic Yeezus nickname. We all know about Ye’s tendency to talk about himself with an abundance of braggadocio, so fans were understandably skeptical when it was announced that he and wife Kim Kardashian would be starting a Sunday service in early 2019. The music star even spoke about the matter in an episode of Keeping Up with the Kardashians: “I had the idea of making a church before … and then 2019, I was like, ‘I’m not letting a Sunday go by without making this'” (via Insider). Indeed, West’s church services began — first in his home, and then slowly expanding around the U.S.
It makes sense for the “Stronger” rapper to start such an endeavor, considering mother-in-law Kris Jenner herself co-owns a church in California. The Kardashian-Jenners are ever-present at these events, too, with Kimmy K. acting as her husband’s PR rep on Twitter. Read on to find out the untold truth about the ultra-secret gatherings of Kanye West’s Sunday church services.
Kanye West's Sunday church services are organized by his disciples
To orchestrate such elaborate weekly gatherings, Kanye West must have had some people helping him out, right? From the color-coordinated gospel choir to each service’s incredible location, there’s no way the Kardashian-Wests have been doing this all on their own. The rapper reportedly has two right-hand men who make sure everything runs according to plan, per GQ. Assistant Nico Ballesteros allegedly selects the location “one to three days before the service is done,” a student named Wilhens Norvil, who runs the unofficial Kanye Sunday Services Instagram account, claimed to the publication. “They don’t like to stay at the same place a lot, because people might figure where it is.” Sneaky.
Meanwhile, James Tyler Fazio is reportedly West’s go-to man for production and contacts. The social media manager even discussed the experience in a piece penned for LinkedIn, which is interesting considering all the attendees allegedly have to sign non-disclosure agreements (via Variety). “I found myself in Calabasas helping to produce this brand new experimental live music production/church service for the friends and family of Kanye West,” he wrote in part. “There were many nights we’d get notes, be up all night working to get the details right … just hoping and praying the show would go on. And it always did.” As Fazio noted, the services appear to run like a well-oiled machine — a testament to Ye’s loyal disciples.
Is West's weekly service a church or a concert?
When you think of church services, religious sermons and readings probably come to mind. Well, Kanye West’s Sunday services don’t exactly have either. Instead, view the weekly event as a choir-inspired Yeezus show with some classic gospel tunes thrown into the mix. According to GQ, “The gospel choir sings for about sixty minutes,” making it “decidedly a concert — not the ‘new church’ people have speculated about.”
So, what sort of Yeezus songs are played? “According to attendees, West’s reinterpretation of his own music is meant to take on a spiritual essence — particularly songs like ‘Jesus Walks,’ ‘Lift Off,’ and ‘Father Stretch My Hands, Pt. 1,'” Variety reports, adding that attendees have called the performances “an expression of love.” Ye has apparently even changed some of his secular lyrics to connote spiritual meanings, which makes sense, considering some of his tunes are very NSFW.
Although these services mostly revolve around singing, West sometimes speaks in-between songs. As GQ notes, “This is more in keeping with the tradition of gospel choir concerts … than a sermon per se.” Tony Williams, Ye’s cousin, reiterated this in an Instagram Live video. “We don’t even pass a plate,” he explained, referring to the traditional collection of alms during Christian church services.
Kanye West's Sunday church service means Yeezys for all!
There’s absolutely zero chance that anything Kanye West is involved in isn’t going to be fashion-oriented. The rapper is notorious for his fashion prowess, from his own Yeezy label to infamously throwing out most of his wife’s wardrobe and subsequently making her cry. A bit harsh, sure, but West is also known to spread the love when it comes to his sartorial swagger. According to Vogue, he decided to start an “incubator for young designers” in 2019 as a way to support “budding talent.” For our purposes, Ye has apparently generously donated items from his own collection to his Sunday service choir.
“All of the choir members wear a uniform … usually a garment that’s a merging between a t-shirt and a choir robe, plus Yeezy sneakers and trousers,” GQ reports, adding, “They’re given the clothing and shoes for free either a few days before or the day of. The outfit is usually white, but West pulls from the full Yeezy palette — he’s also done buttery beige, graphite, and black.” Are we even surprised?
There’s little doubt that Kim K. has followed her husband’s church service dress code along with everyone else. The only person who’s seemingly able to do their own thing? You’d think it’d be West, but it’s actually daughter North, who’s often adorably stood out while grooving to the tunes.
Each Sunday church service is an A-list playground
It wouldn’t be a Kardashian-West affair without, well, celebrities. They’re often dubbed “America’s Royal Family,” so anything in which Kim Kardashian is involved will ensure top publicity. So, how have they made something so private both coveted and buzzworthy? By ensuring sightings of Hollywood’s elite, of course.
According to The Cut, some famous faces who’ve attended West’s Sunday church services have included the likes of Kid Cudi, Diplo, Courtney Love, DMX, Kylie Jenner’s rapper beau Travis Scott, and of course, the rest of the KarJenner clan. Meanwhile, fellow E! star Busy Philipps has been known to drop by, along with Orlando Bloom and Katy Perry. Naturally, an air of exclusivity has floated around each Sunday service, as the event has remained invite-only. In addition to signing an NDA, Variety reports that all guests are prohibited to talking to the press about the event. One exception, however, is posting to Instagram — making the rest of us happy to catch at least a sliver of what exactly goes down at each hush-hush service.
Ye's kiddos have turned out to be little musical prodigies
On an episode of Keeping Up with the Kardashians, Kim Kardashian famously told daughter North why she and her husband are famous. “To get very technical … Daddy is a singer, performer, artiste,” the reality TV star told her first born, before adding, “Mummy has so many talents I can’t even begin to name them.” Well, thanks to Kanye West’s church services, it looks like little North and baby brother Saint have already begun following in their father’s footsteps!
Thanks to all the posts and videos that proud mom Kim has shared on social media, we’ve all had the chance to see the Kardashian-West kids participate in these weekly festivities — complete with singing and dancing. From totally slaying some dance moves to even performing with her dad, North has some serious star power. As for Saint? We assume the mentality is to start ’em young, as the tiny tot began singing in the children’s choir in June 2019. With big sis North protectively whispering the lyrics in his ear, Saint joined in on an adorable rendition of “Nothing Compares 2U” by Sinead O’Connor.
Is the church looking to heal Kanye West or something else?
Kanye West has never shied away from talking about his mental health issues, begging the question: Is the rapper using his Sunday church service as a chance to heal?
“He understands brokenness and the need for healing, probably more than most people,” claimed a source cited by People in April 2019. “He believes in the healing powers of music, but also believes that God can step in and heal people’s brokenness and their issues.” Meanwhile, wife Kim Kardashian echoed this sentiment while discussing the therapeutic and relaxing powers of music on Jimmy Kimmel Live! Calling the services “more of just a healing experience,” she told host Jimmy Kimmel, “There’s no praying, there’s no sermon, no word, just music, and just a feeling.”
However, the Mirror once speculated that Ye might’ve had an ulterior financial motive by kicking off his church services, harking back to the time he famously hit Mark Zuckerberg up for money on Twitter while facing $53 million worth of debt in 2016. Considering West has since worked his way out of debt and even graced the cover of Forbes in July 2019, we have a feeling any naysayers may just be wrong about this one.
Kanye West: from Yeezus to Yandhi
Considering the fact that Kanye West’s turbulent financial past has probably left behind some lasting regrets, some have viewed the entire Sunday church service affair as self-promotion in order to allegedly raise money for the rapper’s multi-faceted empire and his next album.
According to Vanity Fair, some fans have speculated that the songs played during the event might be off of West’s upcoming effort. The “Famous” rapper has notably teased some unreleased tracks at the church services, with even little North knowing the lyrics. To make matters even more suspicious, the record in question will apparently be called Yandhi (via NME). That’s right, similarly to how West’s Yeezus album was a take on Jesus in 2013, it looks like Yandhi will view the star as, you guessed it, Mahatma Gandhi.
As for raising money to further his musical reign? We can’t confirm this suspicion. However, it’s worth noting that West’s merch costs were high at the service he performed at Coachella 2019. From $50 socks to $225 sweatshirts, these “Church Clothes” were worth more than what your regular Sunday service goer is probably looking to pay.
DMX broke Kanye West's supposed no-prayer rule
Although Kim Kardashian revealed how Kanye West’s Sunday service was all about music and tended not to include any prayers or sermons, she kind of contradicted this claim during a March 2019 event. “Morning prayer by DMX,” the KKW Beauty mogul tweeted at the time, captioning a video of the iconic rapper leading the service with a prayer.
According to Billboard, “Some of the spoken word from X was actually pulled from Grand Champ‘s ‘The Prayer V.'” Speaking in his signature raspy voice, DMX said, “I have favor with everyone that I deal with today. Doors that were once closed are now open for me. I receive preferential treatment and special privileges. I am God’s favorite child.” With the crowd cheering him on, it was clear that this spoken prayer addition was totally cool with the invitees, as well. While DMX took the time to pose with Ye after his prayer, it’s worth noting that West’s rapper pal has actually joined in on more than one gathering and even supported the “Heartless” crooner during his Coachella 2019 service: When West got emotional near the end of this performance, DMX notably comforted him alongside buds Kid Cudi and Chance the Rapper.
Fans caught a Sunday church service through a Coachella peephole
The only time Kanye West has made his church service available to the public was when he performed it during Easter Sunday at Coachella 2019. “It felt like wandering dizzily around a very luxe cult gathering,” Jia Tolentino of The New Yorker observed, adding, “The choir wore mauve and tramped up the hill in winding single file … A dense crowd, fenced off from the performance, covered the surrounding grass.”
Of course, the Twitterverse had a lot to say about the spectacle, which was live-streamed through Coachella’s website and instantly got the meme treatment by thousands of viewers. Why, you ask? Well, fans apparently weren’t all too happy to see that the entire concert was shot through a “peephole” viewing. According to The Harvard Crimson, the idea to shoot the event that way was “perhaps Kanye’s nod to the public’s constant peering into his life and highly publicized mental health issues.” Hmm, a bizarre but fair choice, if true.
While this potential homage to the public’s scrutiny made sense, Twitter didn’t seem to think so. E! News reports that some viewers compared it to using a “pinhole projector,” while others felt like they were watching a performance through a toilet paper tube.
Kanye West's church service has included even the most private celebs
In April 2019, Kim Kardashian summarized Kanye West’s Sunday services perfectly to Elle, saying, “Everyone that comes understands it’s just a really healing experience with an amazing choir, and amazing messages about love to start off your week.”
No matter what your thoughts on Ye’s unique “church” may be, you really can’t hate on that sentiment. The KUWTK starlet’s words notably rang true when the famously private singer Sia took to the church service stage in late May 2019. In a surprising turn, she performed her hit, “Elastic Heart,” without her signature wig that covers almost all of her face. Meanwhile, Sia’s fans were probably quick to note that the track may have sounded unrecognizable. According to ET Canada, the lyrics had been changed to Psalm verses from the Bible.
Kardashian shared the special moment on Twitter. With the crowd clapping and cheering, there was a genuine joy felt in the room as Sia belted out the tune. For her part, Kardashian wrote in the caption, “There wasn’t a dry eye in this room today.” You know what? We believe it.
Keeping up with the … Wests?
It’s no secret the Kardashian-Jenners have built their entire multi-media empire from the continued success of Keeping Up with the Kardashians, which has remarkably stood the test of time since its 2007 premiere. While Kim Kardashian has taken fashion tips from her hubby, Kanye West probably has a thing or two to learn from her reality TV triumphs.
According to a source cited by Radar Online in July 2019, “Kanye is legit trying to sell a show that is based on his Sunday sermons … He’s been telling people that this has been his goal ever since he came up with the idea for Sunday services.” While wife Kimmy K. is reportedly totally on-board with the idea of televising what’s gone into launching West’s Sunday church services, there’s a big reason why momager Kris Jenner has noticeably kept mum about the alleged spinoff idea. “[Kris] knows that she is going to have a hard time selling it,” the insider went on to claim. “Because Kanye’s show is religion-based, Kris does not know if she even wants to go there and she has told him this.”
We suppose only time will tell on whether fans will be given an extended chance to keep up with the Kardashian-Wests.
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