Anyone who has followed Kanye West knows that God has always been apart of his music. From the controversial “Jesus Walks” that appeared on his debut album College Dropout, to him calling himself a god on the controversial album Yeezus. Kanye has never been one to shy away from controversy or religion. This boldness has come at the cost of many calling him crazy. Who could blame them? His crazy rants and outlandish claims have made people question his sanity. But through it all he seemed to be searching for a higher power. Ultralight Beam which featured fellow rapper Chance The Rapper was puzzling and out of place for an album that talked about lust, blackmail. and partying with the elite. But this unusual route is what undoubtedly lead Kanye to create Sunday Service.
Sunday Service has become this once in a lifetime event that has everyone clamoring to be apart of. Many say it started with his Coachella performance last year that showcased popular songs like Pastor T.L. Barrett’s “Father Stretch My Hands,” which he he sampled for his album “The Life of Pablo” album, accompanying was TY Dolla $ign who helped sing along. Also performing was Teyana Taylor who did a rendition of Marvin Sapp’s “Never Would Have Made It,” which Kanye sampled for her album. By the end of the Coachella performance it was clear that “Ultralight Beam” wasn’t a fluke, but it was a premonition to what would become “Sunday Service”.
Take em to Church
Sunday Service has been the church lesson that Kanye has been using to preach his gospel of soulful pop samples and church spirituals. Songs like Michael Jackson’s “Will You Be There,” show that Kanye is bridging the gap from the often separated secular and sacred music. Artists like James Brown and Kirk Franklin are pioneers of mixing these two worlds and like Kanye they too faced lots of controversy over it. And as they say the medicine is in the candy. The candy being the familiar pop songs. The medicine being the gospel-like renditions of these songs.
Songs like “Through the Wire” which appeared on Kanye’s College Dropout was a flipped rendition of “Through the Fire” which a Kanye led choir sang in a more gospel-like feel. But also flipped were popular songs like Travis Scott’s “Sicko Mode,” Nirvana’s”Smell Like Teen Spirit, No Doubt’s”Don’t Speak” flipped to now say Lord Speak. Even Mariah Carey’s “My All” was flipped to a more gospel feel, while Sia actually joined in the service and sang her song “Elastic Heart”.
But it’s not all good. The Clark Sisters were quick to let Kanye West know after his rendition of their song “Ha Ya” at Coachella that they still own the rights to the music. Aside from the musical remixes is the fact that some concert goers may have been there for the wrong reasons. Anyone growing up in a church can relate that it wasn’t always the Word that got you in the door. Sometimes it was the dinners, seeing your friends, or seeing your crush which made you look forward to going to church. But it’s not what brought you in as much as what you got out of it. And for even the concert goers who came to see Kanye rock the mic said that they also left with something more that they didn’t even expect to. And that’s what church is about. So even if Kanye is using pop songs to bring people in the door, the fact that they left with something more than music, more than Instagram Stories, proves that whatever Kanye is doing isn’t that far off from what church is meant to leave you with.
Find out about Kanye’s sampled songs below: