VCultures 1 arrives, as it seems all Kanye West albums must now, late and mired and amid even more controversy, the latter now a bunch of self-inflicted feelings of unease that have left West without a label, estimated to $1.5 billion poorer after Adidas cut ties with him and, according to a now-deleted Instagram post, couldn’t book a tour because venues blacklisted him, all because anti-Semitic comments.
Indeed, this time, controversy and delay seem to go hand in hand. Vultures’ supporting cast list highlights that there are still plenty of big names happy to be associated with him — from Playboi Carti and Travis Scott to producers Timbaland and James Blake — but at least part of the failure of the album to appear on any of the planned releases. the dates appear to be related to other artists’ refusal to give permission for appearances and samples. If Nicki Minaj’s reluctance to have her feature on the album was, she said, due to the album being “three years old,” there was no doubt about why Ozzy Osbourne wanted to withdraw. “(He’s) a disrespectful anti-Semite,” offered his manager/wife, Sharon. “He fucked with the wrong Jew this time… that bastard is a pig.” »
So, as usual, the music itself is hard to hear because of the clamor that accompanies it, but if you listen closely you can discern an album that is an improvement over 2021’s Donda. It’s still uneven in a way that sometimes makes you wonder what volumes 2 and 3 of Vultures are going to be like: what price their content if its big return leaves room for stuff like the limp title and Hoodrat, based on an initially pleasantly chaotic and relentless sample that is allowed to wander well beyond the endurance threshold? There are some desperately weak verses from West – if you like weak sex rhymes laden with unfunny puns, Vultures is definitely the album for you – and the level of his lyrics is brought into relief by one verse exceptionally lively guest spot from Indiana MC Freddie Gibbs. on Back to Me: “I just turned a bitch into a bird into my ex like I was Elon,” he raps, with a distinct allusion to “that’s how it’s done.”
But there are more good ideas here than in its bloated and unfocused predecessor, starting with the presence of Ty Dolla $ign, who is both a much better singer than West – Glastonbury fans may remember West’s agonizing attempt to sing. Queen’s Bohemian Rhapsody without Auto-Tune – and a unifying presence on an album that jumps wildly stylistically, from the distorted abstractions of Paperwork to the melodically rich, hook-laden Burn, a return to the style that made West famous in the first place .
The presence of a track that could theoretically fit into West’s debut album underscores a feeling that flickers intermittently throughout Vultures. His musical highlights are often fueled by the feeling that what Kanye West currently wants more than anything is an undeniable big hit of the kind he used to make with surprising regularity: perhaps to counter the Widespread narrative that his talent waned as his notoriety waned. has exploded in previously unimaginable ways, and perhaps because of the cynical but not unfounded belief that few things cause the music industry to wipe the slate clean and put the past behind it, quite like vast success commercial. You can hear it in Burn, the infernally catchy Do It with juvenile sampling and in Problematic on which Ty Dolla $ign’s voice – lightly sprinkled with Auto-Tune rather than immersed in it – really soars. And you can hear it in Carnival, which opens with a chorus that’s obviously designed for huge crowds to scream and unfolds in epic, thrilling style, aided by a huge choral sample and a sample of the beat from My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy’s Hell. of a lifetime, another throwback to a time when West’s genius far eclipsed his ability to provoke outrage.
Then again, there are moments in Vultures where you wonder if West actually wants anyone to forget the controversy that ensues. The kindest interpretation of his recent actions is that he is a desperately ill man who has been manipulated by some of the worst people imaginable, among them white supremacist Nick Fuertes. Another interpretation is that he is a sort of nuclear frontier lord, seeking to provoke a reaction, which he certainly did, a reaction that went well beyond online outrage and led to a surge in anti-Semitic attacks, including synagogues and Jewish cemeteries vandalized with the phrase “Kanye was right.”
And if you stick with the Edgelord theory, there’s plenty of evidence here to support it. The cover design may have been changed to no longer evoke the work of reprehensible black metal band Burzum, but there’s been a lot of focus on West’s recent apology to the Jewish community, through horrible jokes and boasts. : he can’t be anti-Semitic because he “just fucked a Jewish bitch” suggests the title song; jokingly comparing himself to the disgraced R Kelly and Bill Cosby on Carnival; rapping “anti-Semitic / still the king” about King. It’s not so much shocking as deeply depressing: the actions of a man who thinks he can get away with it because he’s made an album so unequivocally brilliant that it negates all other criticism. For all of Vultures’ scattered musical strengths, it’s wrong on both counts.