Vultures 1: Ye or nay?

In late February 2024, Kanye “Ye” West returned from his Instagram hiatus to make a typical Kanye statement: “THE MEDIA MAY CONTROL THE NARRATIVE BUT THE PEOPLE HAVE SPOKEN.” Kanye’s broad-reaching and false claim of mass support came at the end of a two-year period where his antisemitic and sexist comments had reduced his public appeal and influence.

Today, Kanye’s fans are a limited set of people: those actively choosing to ignore his deleterious public statements, those who believe “Vultures 1” could be the first finished Kanye project since 2016 (it isn’t), and the semi-delusional fashion heads who see Kanye’s Yeezy Pods ( for the curious) as a leap forward for high fashion.

Ye’s sharp decline has sparked countless internet memes, and his halfhearted apologies to the Jewish community reveal him as a man who is clearly unaccustomed to facing the consequences of his actions. In a way, “Vultures” reflects Kanye’s impassivity with regard to his reputation. The project is uncut, brash, and overtly sexual, a refl ection of Kanye’s lack of major label control. Although having Kanye as creative director comes with some hiccups, such as “GOOD (DON’T DIE)” being cut from the album and removed from Spotify, Kanye’s newfound freedom allows him to have total creative control over an album rollout for the fi rst time, well, ever. “STARS,” the opening track, comes in strong with a gospel choir chant that is interspersed with drum loops and Ty Dolla $ign’s synthesized croons. Just when the vaguely Christian soundscape begins to sound like 2016’s “Ultralight Beam,” Kanye comes in with classic braggadocio: “This that rip up the contract/f— all that.” The project’s true sonic appeal appears during those rare moments when Ye and his massive persona take a momentary backseat. In these moments, an often-forgotten Ty Dolla $ign revitalizes tracks with syrupy melodies reminiscent of his “Free TC” era. Kanye’s costar’s quiet power comes into full effect on tracks like “TALKING,” where Kanye’s brash and unpolished production is suddenly silenced. Immediately, Dolla $ign comes in, taking the mic from North West, Kanye’s 10-year-old daughter—one of the album’s only features. The mood switch is immediate and overwhelming, a consolation to the fact that Ye sandwiches his daughter’s feature between two tracks that attempt to prove his sexual prowess to the listener.

It’s not like he hasn’t done it before. On “Yeezus,” sex was a symbol of the album’s urgency and animosity. However, on “Vultures,” Kanye’s focus on sex is a painful and constant reminder of his shrinking sphere of control. He lusts after his new wife, Bianca Censori. Following Kanye’s 2022 divorce from beauty and reality TV mogul Kim Kardashian, headlines that Ye had secretly remarried surfaced.

Kanye’s Kim-centric songs are often centered around her public appearance and romantic appeal. On the contrary, Kanye uses the 29-year-old Censori as a sexual prop while bragging over bass-heavy drums, as if to say, “Hey, I’ve still got it.” Early in the rollout of “Vultures,” Ye released a post on Instagram of his wife captioned, “NO PANTS THIS YEAR.” The picture featured Censori wearing just a shirt. Ye’s public treatment of his wife, highlighted in lines like “I’m not racist, it’s a preference/and [she’s] lookin’ like a reference,” reveals a detachment from reality and hyper-sexualization that is at once harmful and revealing of Kanye’s narcissism and total disconnect. Ye’s treatment of Censori, as if she is not entitled to her own voice, alienates his audience. How can an artist hide out in Dubai and Italy, then fl y back to the States on a private jet to promote the album to his ubiquitously American audience, and expect a resounding success?

“PROBLEMATIC” is a weak rendition of the classic “Bound 2,” and the closing track, “KING,” is more of a self-justifying and hate-filled rant than a coherent piece of music. One line, “Crazy, bipolar, antisemite/But I’m stillthe king, right,” is the only place on the album where Ye directly addresses his infamous antisemitic remarks. The lines contradict his previous public statements, where he expressed remorse and sympathy for his actions targeting the Jewish community. Contrarily, on “KING,” Kanye includes “antisemite” in a laundry list of defamatory terms. This implies that his words have no consequences, and it makes clear that he doesn’t think there should be any.

On “Vultures 1,” Kanye’s overwhelming ego meets gospel influences and the sweet voice of Ty Dolla $ign, resulting in a perpetual cacophony and nonuniform coalescence of meaning that renders the impeccable production of the project insignificant. What is important about the project is Kanye’s message: that he is, and will always be, the greatest and that anyone consuming his music must overlook his views or get out of the way. I plan on steering clear.

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