(CMR) American rapper Kanye West (Ye) took his weekly Sunday Service with 120-person choir to Kingston, Jamaica's Emancipation Park Friday evening.
The event was free and open to the public and sources indicate that he began the event with the gospel song “Prince of Peace” and also performed a rendition of Damian ‘Junior Gong’ Marley’s “Welcome to Jamrock.” with the choir remixing the popular lyrics with “The Prince of Peace, His name Jehovah!”
According to Jamaican media sources before showtime, Inspector Dustin Woolcock estimated a crowd of about 1,200 but within a half-hour with thousands more cramming the seven-acre recreational park set in the heart of New Kingston.
Going for a purely organic look there was no VIP section, no chairs, and no separate media section.
The news-making chart-topper staged his latest project, Sunday Service, at the seven-acre recreational park, the first international stop in a series of gospel concerts since announcing his conversion to Christianity earlier this year.
During the performance, Kanye addressed the crowd saying “I just want to thank Jamaica for the open door they gave us. I want to thank the Government, the police and the people of Kingston.” He closed the two-hour show with “Jesus Walks.”
Jamaica is his first international performance for his Sunday Service performances which have all been in the continental United States. He has featured the service in Los Angeles, New York City, Atlanta and in Wyoming where he recently purchased a home with his wife, Kim Kardashian-West.
It's also been reported that Ye plans on taking the Sunday Service show to Africa, Europe, and Asia.
Attendance is said to be have been extremely good with Jamaicans being touched by the performance. Not without controversy, some local pastors said Kanye's motives should be questioned.
“I don’t know him (West) as a Christian and someone who is being led by the Holy Spirit … We have to examine the motive here. From a spiritual perspective, I am not 100 per cent comfortable,” Therefore, I am calling for the church to pray against this, just in case there is anything negative associated with this service that Kanye is coming to Jamaica to keep.”Stephen Blake told the Jamaica Star
Blake indicated that he thought the rapper is looking to ride the coattail of Christianity to remain relevant. Despite those isolated concerns, the event was backed by the Jamaica Tourist Board. It is said he spent over US$1M to stage the event.
Minister of Culture, Gender, Entertainment and Sport, Olivia Grange, says that Jamaica will benefit from the staging of Kanye West's ‘Sunday Service' concert in Kingston this evening.
“It is at no cost to the Jamaican government or the Ministry and Jamaica is benefitting. Kanye West is paying for absolutely everything… and will be spending over one million US dollars for this event in Jamaica. They've covered their own air charter [and] local hotel accommodation. They're spending a substantial amount on technical services (to be provided by local suppliers), a large number of Jamaicans will be hired to treat with the production. And the facilities that we are providing that are to be paid for will be covered by Kanye West,”
As can be expected, security was extremely tight with police using canine teams to sweep the stage and artist accommodation areas before the start of the concert. Police were also monitoring designed parking areas to deter car thieves – an ongoing concern during large performances at the park.
Kanye performed at Reggae Sumfest in 2004 in Jamaica. Among the local celebrities who attended the show were dancehall star Spice, industry legend Tommy Cowan, Carlene Davis, Chevaughn, and Alaine. Entertainment Minister Olivia Grange was also there.