Kanye West’s new album, “Jesus Is King,” is topping charts. But the musician/songwriter/activist/fashion designer is getting a less-than-stellar response for his brunch-hosting skills.
Online outrage stirred this weekend over photos posted on social media by attendees of a brunch that preceded Yeezy’s Sunday Service — a regular performance that includes preaching and gospel singing — in Baton Rouge on Friday. The Sunday Service featuring West and his gospel choir was free. But tickets to a pregame meal dubbed “Brunchella” were $55.
One attendee’s photo, which showed a foam plate topped by two dry pancakes, two anemic-looking bacon strips and a pale sausage patty, seemed to kick off the disbelief-to-anger cycle. But West’s team is now pushing back on the reaction to the post, which they say doesn’t reflect the general experience of attendees.
The image immediately invited comparisons to the infamous Fyre Festival, a much-hyped music festival that promised gourmet, celebrity-chef-prepared food and luxury accommodation, but whose epic shortfalls were symbolized by a viral photo of a boxed lunch of grocery-store bread topped by waxy cheese slices. (It didn’t help that the Sunday Service attendees had other, non-food-related gripes about the event, which included delays and a dubious VIP area.)
Another post, which featured a video of the buffet offerings, indicated there was far more on hand for the meal than the first post had suggested, even if the plastic jugs of orange juice didn’t scream four-star.
And other attendees said that the spread wasn’t so bad.
Still, as the online mockery continued, damage control efforts came swiftly. “It’s like one person who had a bad meal at Applebee’s leaving a negative review,” said Jason Brown, who is an event coordinator with Kanye’s camp. “It wasn’t like you had a thousand people complaining.”
In a follow-up Facebook post, the woman who originally posted the photo of her sparse plate described what happened in the aftermath. She said she didn’t blame West himself for the disappointment but, rather, pointed at the event’s promoters and organizers, who she said contacted her through Facebook friends and told her West wanted to speak to her directly.
“Myself and some family members gathered to call the number provided by the event organizers, only to find out it wasn’t Kanye, it was someone pretending to be him,” Kimberly Kinchen wrote. “He proceeded to say he’d fly me out to his next show if I cooperated with him. Instead of professionally owning up to their faults, or speaking with me to address their concerns they attempted to deceive me yet again.”
But she claimed West “didn’t have his hands in this.” She concluded with a message to people who had interpreted her post as a dig at the star: “LEAVE YE ALONE.”
Kinchen did not immediately respond to a Facebook message seeking comment.
TMZ posted a story on Sunday in which the caterer of the buffet, Lauryn’s Fine Catering, absolved West from fault. “The catering company acknowledges it did not provide adequate food for ONE attendee and a social media post went viral,” the company told the news site. “Kanye West and the Sunday Service collective should be disassociated with such claims surrounding the food at the event.”
And Brown said the hoopla over the food stole focus from where West wanted it to be. “Kanye is spreading the word of God,” he said. “That one meal had nothing to do with the event.”
Correction: An earlier version of this story cited news reports stating that proceeds from the brunch were going to Baton Rouge’s Bethany Church. A representative for the church says Bethany received no profits from the event, and it was not intended as a church fundraiser. This post has been updated.
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