Wed | Nov 20, 2019

KANYE-MONIUM - No VIP section at US rapper’s concert; traffic concerns for Emancipation Park

Published:Friday | October 18, 2019 | 12:27 AMYasmine Peru and Kimberley Small/Gleaner Writers
A policeman looks on helplessly at a pile-up of vehicles on Oxford Road, New Kingston, as the capital was transformed into a parking lot during peak-hour traffic yesterday. Gladstone Taylor/Multimedia Photo Editor
A policeman looks on helplessly at a pile-up of vehicles on Oxford Road, New Kingston, as the capital was transformed into a parking lot during peak-hour traffic yesterday. Gladstone Taylor/Multimedia Photo Editor

Despite controversial United States rapper Kanye West being a massive entertainment figure, his quasi-religious service expected to draw thousands to Emancipation Park this evening will be a no-frills event.

“This is all there will be,” Matthew Lawrence, event specialist at the Jamaica Cultural Development Commission, told The Gleaner, pointing to the tent at the side, while at the New Kingston park yesterday.

“There will be no chairs or VIP section or press section or anything like that because the idea is to keep things very simple. It is a pop-up, therefore it has to look as natural as possible. It has to be organic,” Lawrence said.

West, who once called slavery a choice, has been using his Sunday Service to spread the message of love and devotion to Christ. Today’s event is the first outside of the United States of America and is being held in a space that was established to pay homage to the fight of the enslaved people in Jamaica to win their freedom.

The rapper and his Sunday Service team are expected to transform the New Kingston venue with a praise and worship session of epic proportions. With his technical team already in the island from earlier this week, and West and his 170-strong entourage scheduled to arrive last night, the stage is set for the Jesus Walks singer to work his magic.

Shane Fitz-Gibbon, the technical production manager for Kanye West’s Sunday Service, was also on site. Fitz-Gibbon disclosed that he has been working with Sunday Service since February, one month after it started. He has attended several pop-ups and describes the experience as “fantastic”.

Fitz-Gibbon believes that the Jamaica experience will be no different. “I hope everybody has a powerful and safe experience and will be moved by those voices,” he said.

The voices to which he refers are the 120-voice gospel choir, oftentimes dressed in garb from Kanye’s Yeezy clothing line, and which accompanies him on his ongoing redemption tour.

The choir, as they normally do, is expected to draw heavily from West’s own catalogue during their two-hour presentation at Emancipation Park, the first time that the Sunday Service will be performing outside of the United States.

Kanye West “couldn’t have chosen a better country than Jamaica,” said Entertainment Minister Olivia Grange. She also stated that her ministry is “pleased to facilitate the performance in the country as it supports the Government’s programme to establish Jamaica as the preferred destination for music and sport events.”

This is not the first time that Kanye West is performing in Jamaica. He made his debut at Reggae Sumfest in 2004.

The Sunday Service performance begins at 7 p.m. today. Already, there is concern that the event could result in a massive traffic pile-up in that section of the capital city. Yesterday evening, peak-hour traffic transformed the streets of Kingston into a virtual parking lot as motorists endured hours of throttling rage and annoyance as power outages crippled stop lights.

However, Deputy Superintendent of Police Tanisha Ellison, acting head of the Jamaica Constabulary Force’s communications arm, said motorists should expect increased police presence along adjacent thoroughfares to monitor the flow of traffic and keep watch as thousands of fans are expected to converge on the seven-acre recreational space in the heart of New Kingston.

“As it is now, the roadways will be utilised as they are normally. But we do have plans in place. As required, we’d be able to respond as the need arises,” Ellison said.

Inquiries fielded from multiple sales and marketing teams at hotels in the area indicated that they were all operating business as usual, reporting no significant uptick in reservations.

kimberley.small@gleanerjm.com

yasmine.peru@gleanerjm.com