The “greatest artist that God has ever created” — that would be Kanye West’s new, self-given title — brought his Sunday Service Experience to Joel Osteen’s Lakewood Church on Sunday night.
After a morning chat with Osteen and his megachurch congregation — during which the rapper declared himself the “greatest artist…” — West returned with his gospel for a performance, which was also livestreamed, like every service is, on Facebook, YouTube, the church’s website and on Joel Osteen’s SiriusXM’s radio channel. While it started late, due to long entrance lines, he West did complete the show, which doesn’t always happen, and it was largely enjoyed.
Here are some of the highlights and lowlights:
The lines to get in were “ridiculous.” West appeared at the 11 a.m. service with Osteen for a conversation about faith and his fabulousness, at which wife Kim Kardashian was front and center. While he then had hours before his Sunday Service Experience performance was scheduled to begin at 7 p.m. that night, people began lining up right away in hopes of getting a good general admission seat to the show, leading to some chaos. There was a lot of griping about the lines on social media, and local news station KTRK said the issue had to do with the extra entry security, including each person going through a metal detector. Some concertgoers, still in line when the show started, streamed the show on their phones as they waited.
People rushed the venue to grab seats. Once inside, people raced to their seats, creating even more of a frenzy. We know that while the tickets were free, many were snatched up and resold — some for $300 each — and people clearly wanted to get their money’s worth.
The show started more than an hour late. An announcer heard via the telecast said they were trying to get the crowd for the 7 p.m. event seated, so they were holding the show. The main church holds 45,000 people and there was overflow into different areas of the massive Houston venue. Things finally kicked off at 8:15 when Osteen took the stage, but Ye and his massive choir made up for it with an over-two-hour show.
Kanye running late at Lakewood Church, the place is PACKED!
— Kat ?? #KAG ✝️ #JesusIsKing (@Welly_World) November 18, 2019
Kanye WOULD be 40 minutes late ?
— CoffeeCake. (@FromJasWithLove) November 18, 2019
Church services don’t usually start late…unless it’s being run by Madonna or Kanye West.
— SiouxZ Sez So (@Sioux_King) November 18, 2019
They covered Destiny’s Child. And the 1999 song, with reworked lyrics, was a hit. West and company also covered Stevie Wonder’s “Overjoyed” and Sisters With Voices’s “Weak.”
And, yes, he did his own music. West — who was singing and DJing, closed out the show with his own songs, including “Jesus Walks, “Father Stretch My Hands, Pt. 1” and “Closed on Sunday.”
He shouted out Rodney Reed. During “Follow God,” West name-checked the prisoner whom his wife helped to get a stay of execution. “One time for Rodney Reed and his family,” he said during the song (at 1:35 mark, below).
– One time for Rodney Reed and his family. Loved that, Kanye.
— Zidan. (@MisterObservist) November 18, 2019
Yes, Kim was there. She was front and center with some of the kids. She also personally invited at least one fan to attend with a meet and greet with her and West before the show — and front row seats. (See the thread, below.)
so first & foremost i just wanna shout out @KimKardashian you did things for us that you didn’t have to & i am forever grateful, lemme tell y’all how this came to be!!!!!!
— Texans Nation?? (@BonGucci) November 18, 2019
And some of the West kids were there too — running around as their dad performed. North also joined West on stage.
People loved the spectacle.
Sunday Service was by far one of the best experiences of my life. Kanye West is and absolute genius. His choir is 100x better in person and videos don’t do it justice. Thank you ? @kanyewest
— dankful herbo ??? (@_Terricka_) November 18, 2019
Sunday Service was honestly something special. I loved every minute.
— Slayonce’ ✨ (@Whit_Bby) November 18, 2019
And this isn’t the Sunday Service finale. West’s pet project, which started in January, will soon have another high-profile showing. The rapper announced he will present an opera, Nebuchadnezzar, Nov. 24 at the Hollywood Bowl in L.A. It will be directed by Vanessa Beecroft, and feature music by his Sunday Service Collective as well as Peter Collins and Infinities Song.
In an interview last month with Zane Lowe, West spoke about Nebuchadnezzar — a long-reigning king of ancient Babylon, from about 605 to 562 B.C. who was featured in the Bible’s Book of Daniel — saying, he “was the king of Babylon, and he looked at his entire kingdom and said, ‘I did this.’ And God said, ‘Oh, for real? You did this?’ Sounds kind of similar, right? I’m standing on the tip of the mountain talking about Yeezus. Saying, ‘I did this!’ That I’m a god! And I could talk to Jesus at the end of my show. I had a guy dressed up as Jesus, at the end of my show.”
West went on to say that similar to himself, Nebuchadnezzar was bipolar — though that was obviously before the term was used. Chapter 4 references it: “Let his mind be changed from that of a man and let him be given the mind of an animal.”
West told Lowe, “Nebuchadnezzar was diagnosed with bipolar disorder and he was still king. So not only was I diagnosed with mental illness, but mental illness was something that was used to… to wash me out, to control me.”
Tickets go on sale on Monday at 1 p.m. ET.
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