After a forgettable, embarrassing 2018, he's back at the top of the mountain. Well, Coachella.
On the final day of the US festival’s second weekend, Kanye West went into full preacher mode, bringing his Sunday Service to Palm Springs, and the crowd lapped it up. All hail Yeezy.
Dressed in earth colours that are several sizes too big, West and his choir could easily be mistaken for a cult. And the Ye faithful could join in the fun thanks to the high-end Yeezy merchandise on sale.
T-shirts, sweaters, socks and, gloriously, a Sunday Service Poncho for $75, could all be purchased at Coachella.
Love him or hate. Or really, really hate him. No artist provokes reactions quite like Kanye West.
Some see a genius. Others cannot get beyond his, to put it mildly, controversial personality.
You can’t whitewash slavery, cosy up to arguably the most unpopular US resident ever, and generally play the contrarian, without rubbing people the wrong way.
One thing no one can deny, however, is his showmanship. The man knows that he’s a rock star.
Some of the best hip-hop music of the last two decades? Done it. A high profile marriage? Only to Kim Kardashian, thank you very much. Self-promotion? Been, there, done that and sold the adidas-collaborated sneakers.
Where do you go after pronouncing slavery over 400 years was “a choice”? After hugging Donald Trump in the Oval Office? After furiously dropping out of headlining Coachella 2019 because a request for his own stage (his own dome) was not granted immediately?
Since the start of 2019, the man who once appeared once appeared on the cover of Rolling Stone sporting a crown of thorns with the legend “The Last Temptation of Kanye West”, has held a series of “Sunday Service” performances – a weekly jam session with gospel choir, celeb attendees and carefully choreographed wardrobe choices.
And though West was no longer headlining Coachella, he was certainly not going to let that stop him from being the centre of attention anyway.
Of course many artists have a history of attention-seeking stunts, worthy or not.
John Lennon and Yoko Ono spent a week in bed as an “advertisement for peace”. The K Foundation (or KLF) burned, yes burned, a million pounds in the name of art. And, predating Kanye by 48 years, Elvis Presley brought a gun into the White House as a gift for Richard Nixon.
But, quite frankly, when it comes to self-promotion, they are all amateurs compared to West, who comes across as either the world’s most unaware human being, or a PR genius whose every move is carefully calculated to shock and awe.
His Coachella Sunday Service was the latest event aimed at making us forget his less savoury 2018 outbursts. It was also a reminder that West remains, at heart, a formidable business mogul; a gifted hip-hop artist; and, above all, a massive ego.
We’ll have to wait for him to come down from the mountain to find out.