Exactly twenty years after “The College Dropout”, Kanye West’s debut album, this “Vultures 1” is released, the first of three volumes of the musical project in collaboration with Ty Dolla $ign. In reality it seems at least twice as many years have passed both in Ye’s tormented artistic biography and in the entire musical sector and rap in particular.
The last 7-8 years have been particularly stormy for the Chicago producer and rapper between deplorable anti-Semitic outbursts and religious outbursts, candidacies for the US and TSO Presidency, divorces and interruption of collaborations with fashion brands, in addition to various announcements and unannouncements of records and concerts.
In all this, artistic production has been somewhat affected. The records that have followed one another in recent years, from “Ye” to “Jesus is King” to “Donda”, are fragmented, often deliberately instant, and the dozens of authors, producers and featuring involved have only aggravated the dispersiveness of the songs and albums.
In the meantime, Kanye’s reputation has drastically declined among public opinion, making him “persona non grata” within many music venues and institutions, but at the same time the artist has become a sort of demigod for younger fans. of rap, those who listen to Travis Scott, for example.
Surprise Ty Dolla $ign
In short, here is Kanye after “Donda” and the carbonaro “Donda 2” (released only on the Stem Player created by West) inspired by his new wife, new muse and fetish – and here too there would be a long chapter to open on instrumental use of her body on social media – it was decided to carry out a musical project in which to return to being a producer seriously and therefore collaborating with a rapper who would take care of a good part of the rapping and singing parts. Ty Dolla $ign is therefore the first big surprise of this “Vultures 1”: his interventions are always quite punctual with various timbres and modalities and also the parts of the lyrics performed (and presumably also written) by him are the decidedly more effective ones and functional.
The lyrics chapter: misogynistic and embarrassing
In this regard, before reviewing the positive aspects of this album – and there are some – let’s face, for the umpteenth time, the dark and deplorable side, that is, the lyrics, in particular those sung by Kanye, which are not never been his strong point.
Not only does Ye not take advantage of “Vultures” to point out or elaborate on some of his strong, perhaps misunderstood, statements, on the contrary, the “crazy, bipolar and anti-Semitic” as he defines himself in “King”, jokes about it or boasts about it. The lyrics entrusted to him are a concentration of misogyny beyond the threshold of what is permitted even in hip-hop: in addition to the bad single that gives the album its title (“How can I be anti-Semitic? I just fucked a Jewish bitch” he raps), he compares himself to R Kelly and Bill Cosby, there are interpolations of “Roxanne” by the Police completely distorting the lyrics and many other vulgar and offensive fragments beyond measure, to the point of making his evangelical period seem like “Jesus is king” and the Sunday Service even more false and surreal than it already appeared. .
On the lyric front, the only “deep” and tender moments are entrusted to Ty in “Talking” in which he addresses his daughter reflecting on the mistakes he made in his youth and the risk of having passed on the wrong influence to her, while in ” Keys to my life” Kanye West dedicates sweet words to his ex-wife. But they are only rare episodes.
The brilliant producer Kanye is back
Let’s move on to the music instead. From this point of view, “Vultures 1” – his first as an independent artist, without the support of Universal Music Group and Def Jam – is an interesting, chaotic, compelling, rough and full of surprises album.
You can clearly see a change in attitude on Ye’s part with a return to his approach to the past, when each of his albums was an intelligible raising of the bar.
Meanwhile, it is the first time that Kanye explicitly cites himself: he does so in the initial “Stars” which recalls “Ultralight Beam” from “The Life Of Pablo”, in “Problematic” he cites “Bound 2” expanding it with new sound ideas, while the The airy “Burn”, based on a sample from the Band of Thieves, an obscure 1970s soul funk band from Minneapolis, seems to have come straight from their debut album “The College Dropout”. Finally “Carnival”, the most quoted song these days due to the sampling of Inter fans’ chants, as well as being structured like “Power” from “My Beautiful Dark.” also contains the mocking and impertinent revival of the sample of “Iron Man” by Black Sabbath contained in “Hell of a life”, after Ozzy Osborne had refused to allow the sample of “War Pigs” also by Sabbath due to the anti-semitism of Yes.
In addition to this, the album is full of original and brilliant ideas, ideas and ideas, from the Brazilian funk of “Paperwork” (with Quavo used not in trapper mode), to the club anthem “Paid” up to the sinister and dark charm of “Talking”. Even the guest appearances by Travis Scott, Playboi Carti and India Love are functional even if not indispensable (Freddie Gibbs’ rap in “Back to me” is excellent), while in the credits you can glimpse the names of JpegMafia, Timbaland and James Blake, who evidently they leave their mark in the production of some pieces.
While on the one hand the production is very accurate, we cannot say the same about the mixing and recording which – assuming you listened to it with excellent headphones, but from a streaming platform – is poor and often has a cluttered sound.
A tracklist of 16 very varied songs, but not for this reason as dispersive as Kanye’s previous productions, from an uncomfortable, hateful and irritating character – and this is confirmed by his lyrics and his interventions on social media – but who without without a doubt he still remains one of the most brilliant and innovative hip-hop producers on the market.
The second chapter of “Vultures” will be released in March: we hope to listen to sound ideas of this level but with lyrics that become less hateful and irritating again.