Pictured: VVC RamPage reporter Steven Anaya at Kanye West’s Coachella Sunday Service
The self-proclaimed “world’s greatest living artist” looks to the heavens for inspiration on his 9th album.
As many college students will attest, music is a driving force that fuels many a restless night moving a pen across a page.
An intangible sensation, music has served to move many an individual and encourage honest expression and discourse between different groups of people.
If you remain unaware of the influence that Kanye West holds on the imagination of a generation, it may come as a surprise that an audacious rap music maker could directly influence the cultural zeitgeist.
The 42-year-old artist has an accomplished career as a musician, entrepreneur, and fashion designer. According to Black Entertainment Television’s exploration of Google search metrics, Kanye’s Yeezy is the most Googled designer shoe brand.
Despite the success in other endeavors, Kanye is a figurehead with a voice that does not go unheard. Since his first album The College Dropout released in 2004, Kanye West’s music has touched on student-relevant themes including education, religion and politics to become an unstoppable cultural phenomenon.
When asked about the influence of Kanye West, Victor Valley College student Brandon Combs said, “I feel strong when I listen to his music. We have not had any artists quite like Kanye. From his infamous televised decry of former President George Bush in 2008 to the release of a Christian rap album in 2019, Kanye has been able to defy all expectations thrown at him and navigate through art and popular culture using his own rule book.”
For an urban artist to change his trajectory from explicit rap artist to Christian-friendly hip-hopper is unprecedented. As Brandon mentioned, 2019 has seen the release of Jesus Is King, a Christian rap album by Kanye West. The album features appearances from Kenny G, Fred Hammond and The Clipse, and it reached the number one spot on both the Billboard and Christian music charts since its release on October 25th, 2019.
One may wonder why a man as intertwined with a rock star lifestyle as Kanye West has been would want to turn towards fate as a form of expression. In an interview with Zane Lowe for Apple Music done shortly after the release of Jesus Is King, Kanye explained his weariness to play along with expectations, stating, “I will no longer entertain. I’m not here for anyone’s entertainment.”
Going on record to further denounce “living for the culture,” Kanye West has notably used his influence to gather a choir of over 100 professional singers for Sunday Service, a weekly congregation started in January 2019 where praise-centric songs are performed in order to create good faith among attendees.
In an interview with David Letterman, Kanye West described his newfound appreciation for his faith and shared the idea for Sunday Service. “It’s just an idea we had to open up our hearts to make music that we felt was as pure and as positive as possible and just do it for an hour every Sunday, and have something where people can just come together and feel good with their families.”
On Easter Sunday 2019, Kanye West and the Sunday Service choir attended the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival. Student Brandon Combs shared photos from the event, showcasing the massive attendance and describing how it made him feel to be there.
“The power of music is something great to consider,” said Combs. “Being there first thing in the morning with all those at Coachella was quite the experience. The fact that Kanye was able to get over ten thousand people to attend a praise session after a full two days of desert debauchery is astonishing. I felt better in my spirit after witnessing the choir and Kanye sing their praises.”
With the current climate of political smearing and backstabbing, it is refreshing to see an artist use their platform to try something positive. As students, we all come to a point where a bit of positivity is much needed.
“I strongly suggest going to see Kanye and the Sunday Service choir perform!” said Combs. “Even if you are not a religious person, it’s definitely worth the trip to see how music can make so many people come together.”
Updates about upcoming Sunday Service performances are on Kanye West’s official website, KanyeWest.com. All are welcome to enjoy the performances, and as of November 10th, 2019 general admission tickets start at $20.00.
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