Kanye West and Ty Dolla $ign, who operate together under the name ¥$, have released the new album Vultures 1. The album appears to be released through West’s Yzy brand. (West’s longtime relationship with Def Jam Recordings ended in 2021, and Billboard reported in October that he and Ty Dolla $ign were seeking a distributor for their album.) Contributors to the new album include Lil Durk, Bump J, Freddie Gibbs, Playboi Carti, Travis Scott, Quavo, and West’s oldest daughter, North.
Vultures 1 is the first widely available album from West since Donda and its deluxe edition. The follow-up, Donda 2, was premiered at a Miami event in February 2022 and released exclusively via Stem Player. Vultures 1 is also the first traditional album from West since he legally changed his name to Ye. Despite the name change, the album is attributed to “Kanye West” across digital streaming platforms.
West and Ty Dolla $ign previewed an earlier version of Vultures 1 in Miami on December 12. At the event, West wore what The New York Times described as “a pointed black hood that resembled a Ku Klux Klan robe—and the 10-year-old artwork for his song ‘Black Skinhead.’” Per the Miami Herald and Variety, Chris Brown, Offset, Kodak Black, Lil Durk, Bump J, and Freddie Gibbs took the stage at the show, as did two of West’s children, North and Saint.
More recently, West shared music videos for the “Havoc Version” of the Vultures 1 title song and “Talking / Once Again.” The visuals preceded Vultures listening events at Chicago’s United Center and Long Island’s UBS Arena.
At the United Center event, West apparently played a song that sampled a live performance of Black Sabbath’s “Iron Man.” Ozzy Osbourne criticized West and wrote on X that the sample was used without permission. West did not repeat the sample at his UBS Arena event, fans have noted.
Vultures 1 arrives over a year after West faced a number of professional consequences for wearing a “White Lives Matter” T-shirt and posting online that he wanted to go “death con 3 On JEWISH PEOPLE.” Adidas ended its lucrative Yeezy partnership, calling West’s remarks “unacceptable, hateful and dangerous,” and Creative Arts Agency also stopped working with the musician. In addition, West was going to appear on The Shop: Uninterrupted, but his episode was not aired because he apparently perpetuated hate speech and stereotypes during filming.
In the days before his antisemitic online post, West went on Fox News’ Tucker Carlson Tonight to discuss his “White Lives Matter” shirt and more. In unaired segments of the interview, West made troubling remarks about Jewish people. A few weeks later, West praised Adolf Hitler and Nazis during a bizarre interview with Alex Jones. Rolling Stone subsequently reported that West’s alleged fascination with Hitler and Nazism dates back years. In the lead-up to Vultures 1, West has worn clothing with a logo with a double-headed eagle that resembles a German coat of arms.
On the song “Vultures,” West acknowledges that he’s been perceived widely as antisemitic, asking rhetorically, “How I’m antisemitic? I just fucked a Jewish bitch.” He also crudely takes aim at his former manager Scooter Braun, who is Jewish, rapping, “I just fucked Scooter’s bitch, and we ran her like Olympics.”
Additionally, on the closing track, “King,” West repeats, “‘Crazy, bipolar, antisemite’/And I’m still the king,” lyrics that prompted a video stream of his Chicago listening event temporarily to go dark.
Kanye West and Ty Dolla $ign had initially hoped to release Vultures on December 15, but failed to meet the self-imposed deadline. A second proposed release date, December 31, also came and went. West has more recently indicated that second and third volumes of Vultures will arrive on March 8 and April 5, respectively.
Around Vultures 1’s first potential release date, West publicly asked Nicki Minaj to clear her verse for the new album’s “New Body,” but the Pink Friday 2 rapper declined. (The song does not appear on Vultures 1.) Also near the attempted release of Vultures 1, West and Ty Dolla $ign announced a listening event in Las Vegas, but the party failed to take place. Following the botched function, West was filmed making a series of hateful and antisemitic remarks at a private gathering. The musician said, among other things, “Who make the hospitals, though? Who got the hospitals? These are Zionists!” He also exclaimed, “Jesus Christ, Hitler, Ye. Third party.”
I sincerely apologize to the Jewish community for any unintended outburst caused by my words or actions. It was not my intention to hurt or disrespect, and I deeply regret any pain I may have caused. I am committed to starting with myself and learning from this experience to ensure greater sensitivity and understanding in the future. Your forgiveness is important to me, and I am committed to making amends and promoting unity.
It is unclear what exactly prompted West’s apology and for what specific actions he apologized. In response to West’s statement, the Anti-Defamation League said: “After causing untold damage by using his vast influence and platform to poison countless minds with vicious antisemitism and hate, an apology in Hebrew may be the first step on a long journey towards making amends to the Jewish community and all those who he has hurt. Ultimately, actions will speak louder than words but this initial act of contrition is welcome.”
In contrast to the ADL, the American Jewish Committee criticized West’s apology for being shared in Hebrew. “Beyond being bizarre and possibly a ploy to gain more attention, the Hebrew apology—posted without translation—is inaccessible to most American Jews who do not speak the language,” the organization said in a statement to The Associated Press. “To be sure, using Hebrew to communicate with the Jewish community intentionally denies most American Jews—and, consequently, non-Jews—the ability to directly see Kanye’s apology.”
The AJC added, “While he claims that he is committed to learning and greater understanding, this apology speaks to ‘any pain I may have caused,’ rather than acknowledging the pain that he has caused.”
For months, the Vultures cover featured the 19th-century German painter Caspar David Friedrich’s Landscape With Graves. Instead, West and Ty Dolla $ign used that Friedrich artwork for a three-song release called Vultures Pack. The final Vultures 1 artwork features West with his wife, Bianca Censori.
While he died long before the rise of Adolf Hitler, Friedrich’s work was championed by the Nazis. Some observers have noted, too, that the Vultures Pack cover appears to be reminiscent of the artwork for Burzum’s self-titled, debut album. Burzum is led by Varg Vikernes, the Norwegian black metal musician who’s held neo-Nazi views and spent nearly two decades in prison after being convicted in 1994 of the first-degree murder of Mayhem guitarist Euronymous. Vikernes was also arrested in France in 2013 on the “suspicion he was preparing a major terrorist act.” He was found guilty the following year of inciting racial hatred due to racist blog posts that attacked Muslims and Jews. Vikernes, who denied writing the posts, was fined 8,000 euros and handed a suspended six-month sentence.
In January, Jpegmafia posted photos of himself with West on Instagram, captioned, “can’t talk right now. doing hot girl shit.” West is wearing a Burzum T-shirt in the photos.
Vultures 1 is Ty Dolla $ign’s first album since the 2021 Dvsn collaboration Cheers to the Best Memories. He last released a solo studio LP in 2020 with Featuring Ty Dolla $ign. Ty Dolla $ign and Kanye West have a long collaborative history that includes “FourFiveSeconds,” “Real Friends,” “Fade,” “Ego Death,” “Freeee (Ghost Town, Pt. 2),” “Everything We Need,” and more.
Originally Appeared on Pitchfork