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“VULTURES 1” is the return of hip-hop’s “Public Enemy No. 1”

Ye and Ty Dolla $ign perform their new album in Chicago | Photo courtesy of Danielle Degrasse-Alston, Rolling Stones

   In the realm of hip-hop, few artists perpetually shed old fans for new fans quite like Kanye West, now known as Ye. Rap’s super duo, Ye and Ty Dolla $ign, shortened to “¥$”, released their joint album, “VULTURES 1 ”, on Feb. 10. The release marked the 20th anniversary of West’s debut album ‘The College Dropout’, released back in Feb. 10, 2004.

   “VULTURES 1” is a bold and ambitious exploration of fame, success, and the darkest corners of the human psyche. With genre-bending experimental tracks like “TALKING”, Ye and Dolla $ign’s intricate production style delivers a captivating musical voyage that pushes listeners to embrace uncomfortable truths. 

   On Oct. 8, Ye posted a tweet stating that he would be “going death con 3 on JEWISH PEOPLE ”, a murky reference to the US military term DEFCON, signifying heightened readiness of soldiers in response to threats. This tweet has sparked concerns and raised suspicion regarding the potential for violence, leading to questions about Ye’s suitability as a representative figure of hip-hop. 

   Regardless, each track radiates Ye’s lyrical brilliance and shines light on the lyrical fusion of a harmonious yet uncanny style that is carefully embodied within each piece. 

   The album’s climax, “CARNIVAL,” is a thunderous track that builds off of pure liveliness and distorted basses. Ye’s production reaches a crescendo here, elevated by the chilling anthem and uprising chants. The orchestral arrangements of the anthem and rousing cries of, “GO GO GO GO”, serve to make “CARNIVAL” the perfect climactic intersection.

   Amidst the darkness, the album exhibits moments of vulnerability and introspection. This is best exemplified in the first track, “STARS”, which reveals the milder side of Ye’s personality. Ye drowns out the hatred he receives from his supposed anti-semitism in the line “Keep a few Jews on the staff now.” Whether this line qualifies his anti-semitic allegations or amplifies them, it captures his character in full display.

   Flowing from a choral opener to a psychedelic climax, “VULTURES 1” showcases Ye’s mastery of soundscapes, blending hip-hop, electronica, R&B, and gospel elements into an acoustic mosaic. Tracks like “BURN” and “VULTURES” explore in-depth the themes of freedom and uncertainties.  “VULTURES”, the album’s title track featuring Lil Durk and Dj Pharris, released in 2023, inaugurated the return of Ye. 

   I had mixed emotions about “VULTURES”, but it highlighted Ye’s enduring musical prowess despite his recent anti-semitic scandals and setbacks. Ye’s raw vocals and reflective lyrics draw listeners into a portrait of his inner turmoil.

   Ye begins his verse with the line, “Three gang leaders with me, all times”, alluding to the holy trinity and how the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit will accompany him throughout the challenges he faces. His wordplay in this line is dense and multi-layered, with the subsequent lines in the verse consisting of mostly drill-heavy lyricism, emphasizing Chicago’s street culture while conflicting with his self-proclaimed holiness. 

   Throughout “VULTURES 1,” Ye lyricism is as sharp and disorientating as seen in his past works. Before tackling themes of luxury, security, and danger, he gravitates toward his view on societal deterioration and its gradual approach, proposing his sense that the world was against him, transpired by Adidas’s decision to cut connections to the Yeezy brand.

   Despite those who detest him for his inappropriate opinions, “VULTURES 1” makes it simply undebatable that his work has shaped the current era of hip-hop.

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About the Contributor
Rocky Liu
Rocky Liu, Contributing Writer
Rocky Liu joins us as a Contributing Writer in his first year on the team. A multifaceted individual, Rocky engages in basketball and track, and has a love for music and reading. He values spending time with friends, often discussing varied topics of interest. His motivation for joining journalism stems from a desire to delve into diverse subjects and offer his unique perspective. Rocky is passionate about discussing ideas and sharing insights with others who share similar interests.
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