Music

Pull the merch, Kanye

Government requests that West removes items with national symbols from online store

Sunday, October 20, 2019

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The Jamaican Government has requested that American rapper Kanye West pull some of the merchandise being sold on his website following his successful pop-up religious performance, “Sunday Service”, at Emancipation Park in St Andrew last Friday.

The Grammy Award-winning artiste as well as his one hundred plus-member mass choir all sported attire which carried the crest of the City of Kingston, and other national symbols. Following the performance, the online store attached to the event sold items including sweat shirts, T-shirts and caps, all with similar images. This immediately drew the ire of many who complained bitterly on social media.

Culture and Entertainment Minister Olivia “Babsy” Grange confirmed in a statement that contact has been made with the vendor, who has agreed to remove the items as no permission was given for these images to be used for commercial purposes.

“It has come to my attention that items of clothing printed with national symbols and emblems are being offered for sale online.I noticed Kanye West and members of his choir wearing similarly emblazoned items during their special performance in Kingston last night [Friday], but I was not aware at the time that the costumes were being sold online.

“We neither received a request for nor did we give permission for our national symbols and emblems to be used for a commercial manner or otherwise. I have since requested that the items be withdrawn, and the vendor has agreed to do so,” she stated.

The minister further said she has been granted permission to re-establish a committee to devise a strategy to deal with the proper use of our emblems and symbols, as she is aware that other vendors are selling Jamaica-branded products. The membership of the committee will include representatives of the Office of the Prime Minister, the Jamaica Intellectual Property Office, and the Ministry of Culture, Gender, Entertainment and Sport.

Meanwhile, Grange noted that West's presence and performance on Friday evening served as a huge economy boost for Jamaica.

“A lot of money was spent; a million US dollars spent within a week by his team can't be disregarded, and so we benefited tremendously. The Government didn't spend a thing, we only facilitated the concert. I also think that Jamaica as a destination has benefited; Jamaica is trending right now. We are a welcoming country — we welcome people and there is no reason why we should not have welcomed Kanye,” she told the Jamaica Observer.


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