Thursday 15 February 2024

Review of 'Vultures 1' by ¥$ (Kanye West & Ty Dolla Sign)

Ye’s shaky singing and trashy bars make this a rough listen.

There aren’t many musicians that could utter the words I like Hitler and not get cancelled forever. It feels like at this stage Kanye could bomb an orphanage and still have fans riding his dick into battle to defend him. For the rest of us casual Kanye listeners, I feel like this was the last chance for him to redeem himself. Naively, I held out some hope. After all, the rapper/singer/producer managed to redeem himself in the past on 2018’s Ye – after outrageously claiming slavery was a choice, Kanye bravely admitted that he had mental health issues, showing a humbler side and inspiring other rappers to also open up.

Sadly though, this is no Ye. There is no redemption arc this time around. If anything, Kanye has embraced his villain arc. This was clear on the lead single and title track, ‘Vultures’, in which he offered this apology to the Jewish community: ‘how I’m antisemitic? I just fucked a jewish bitch’. I wish that was the only distasteful bar on this album. But alas, Vultures is pure lyrical carrion – a feast of rotten bars.

In further response to the antisemitism, Kanye throws out lines like ‘I’m not racist, it’s a preference’ and ‘crazy, bipolar, antisemite/ and I’m still the king’. He also throws out two unnecessary references to Columbine. He proudly compares himself to R Kelly and Bill Cosby. And he delivers this uncomfortable line about his younger wife: ‘when I was fifteen, my soulmate wasn’t born yet’.

A lot of the lyrics aren’t just outright distasteful  - they’re also plain shit. ‘In a Benzy with Gen-Z getting gentle’ is one of the worst attempts at wordplay I’ve heard. And there was no need to spend nearly half of ‘Back To Me’ repeating the line ‘beautiful big titty butt naked women don’t just fall out the sky, you know? 

It should be noted that this album is a collaborative album with singer Ty Dolla Sign. I don’t think Ty’s vocals have ever really stood out to me before on previous songs I’ve heard from him, but here his contributions are a breath of fresh air. They’re mostly devoid of trashy lyrics, plus he’s got a fantastic singing voice. His singing does unfortunately highlight another issue with this record: Kanye’s singing sounds so shaky in comparison. Has Ye always sounded this shaky or is he just struggling on this album? I was going to say that it would have been better if Kanye stuck to rapping on this record, but as these songs show, maybe not.

There are a few guests on this album, and most of them are also controversial characters (although there’s no Marylin Manson this time around). They largely refrain from saying controversial things, up until the 13th track when we get wifebeater Chris Brown telling us to beg for forgiveness.

Frustratingly, the beats on this album slap. ‘Paid’ is a groovy dance number that’s impossible not to move to. ‘Beg Forgiveness’ features a grippingly menacing chanted backdrop at the end. And ‘Talking’ features some unique sampling at the beginning followed by some cool pounding descending bass notes (in fact, it’s probably my favourite track here, largely because it also features the least amount of vocals from Kanye).

Ty’s singing and the fun beats sadly aren’t enough to distract from the trainwreck that is Kanye. I don’t think I’ll be returning to this album any time soon, and unless I get definitive proof that Kanye has changed, I’ll be giving Vultures 2 a miss.