Chapter 2 – “Lift Off” to Sunday Service: Transcendence, Black Capitalism, Black Rapture

Chapter 2, “‘Lift Off’ to Sunday Service: Transcendence, Black Capitalism, Black Rapture,” develops the argument with a focus on track 2, “Lift Off” (feat. Beyoncé). This analysis continues to engage close reading methodologies, examining, for example, the Afrofuturist discourses engaged on the space-travelling track that overcomes “scars” and takes it to the “stars.”

The chapter, however, augments these approaches with more historical and political analyses of the fraught place of capitalism and entrepreneurship in the African American community. In particular, the chapter pivots on “Lift Off” to launch into the terrain of Kanye’s more recent Sunday Service—a series of outdoor Christian worship services that use the stylings of the Black church to reframe Kanye hits and otherwise offer a creative outlet for the newly right-leaning, Trump-loving West. Indeed, “Lift Off” was one of the first original tracks to be rearranged for use in the Sunday Services—a continuity that demands an analysis of Black transcendence from the Black gospel tradition of the Selah Singer’s “I’ll Fly Away” to the white “prosperity gospel” of Joel Osteen. In the chapter, I put these developments in dialogue with the end-times “rapture” theology of white evangelical Christianity legible on the “Not of this World” bumper stickers ubiquitous in Ye and Kim Kardashian’s Southern California. The chapter thus further examines the idea of racial essence and the possibility of overcoming and transcending racial oppression via financial or spiritual means—or, as in this case, both. As Beyoncé puts it, “So many scars / ’Bout to take this whole thing to Mars.”

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