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Kanye West’s new music is straight trash

A Vultures 1 Review and Retrospective

When discussing Ye, or the artist formerly known as Kanye West, I’m reminded of this quote by niche internet music reviewer Todd in the Shadows. The quote goes something like this:

“Every so often, a writer will get this kind of bug in their head, just like a dare to themselves, a challenge, like can I write a whole novel without using the letter ‘e,’ can I write an all access celebrity interview with Kanye West that’s just me reading his Twitter feed, or can I make whole twenty minute video about Hootie and the Blowfish’s second album and make it interesting?”

Now, just to get this out of the way, the Kanye reference in the quote is actually very appropriate, at least in terms of consistent theming, but what I would really like to start this editorial with is a simple comparison to Darius Rucker (frontman for the aforementioned Blowfish). 

For one thing, Rucker has never married Kim Kardashian, interrupted Taylor Swift at the 2009 MTV Video Music Awards, said that George Bush didn’t care about black people on live television or attempted to run for president.

And then, of course, there’s the goose-stepping, swastika shaped elephant in the room.

Then again, Rucker has never made anything musically equivalent to Dark Twisted Fantasy, 808s and Heartbreak, Graduation, The College Dropout, KIDS SEE GHOSTS, Yeezus, or even Life of Pablo. 

If it isn’t obvious by now, having a nuanced take on Kanye is an incredibly difficult challenge. This is why I’m using an objectively more boring artist as an anchor of sorts, at least so I have some sort of solid metaphorical footing.

To start things off, I’m probably going to say something that might be controversial, at least on a purely musical level: I don’t think Ye is a genius, especially when it comes to lyrical skills. He has his moments for sure, and it would be fair for me to say he’s consistently good. But even on his great songs there’s always at least one lyric that just simply doesn’t fit in the song’s wider context. 

Case in point, on one of Ye’s first big singles, “All Falls Down,” he raps about complex societal issues pertaining specifically to materialism.

No doubt, this tune is an objectively high point in Kanye’s early career, but right when it gets going, however, he hits the listener with this clunker of a lyric: “Couldn’t afford a car, so she named her daughter Alexis.”

But, at the end of the day, it’s hard to deny that there’s definitely something for the listener to lock onto in all of the albums I just listed, especially in terms of production, which in my opinion is one of his strongest skills.

From the all encompassing epicness on songs like “POWER” and “Runaway,” to the kinetic upstart energy on projects like The College Dropout, to the abstract, experimental vibe on Yeezus, the proof really is in the pudding.

“Runaway” especially, I have no problem calling the “Bohemian Rhapsody” of Ye’s catalog, or his only truly perfect song. After all, it’s a catchy, nine minute magnum opus that manages to capture the artist at their best and worst at the same time, all while being very emotionally poignant in terms of lyricism. 

What’s not to love? Ye has proven his abilities to make enduring art many, many times over the past 20 or so years. All this should balance the anti-semitism and mental instability, right? 

Well, no, not really. 

In the grand scheme of things, it’s pretty impossible for me to separate the guy who made Graduation with the guy, who just two years ago said that Hitler had a few good points on the Alex Jones Show.

In other words, separating the art of the artist has always been a bullsh*it argument, especially when it comes to someone like Kanye. When I said that there was something for the listener to lock onto, I wasn’t just referring to the production, I was referring to Kanye himself, his persona, his unique mix of arrogance and vulnerability and the redeeming qualities of his art.

In fact, it would probably be more accurate to think of Ye’s albums more so as organs or parts of his body. What these parts look like, I think is up to personal interpretation, but Ye’s new three volume collaborative VULTURES project with Ty Dolla Sign, would no doubt be a giant, cancerous, rotting tumor.

As of right now, the first volume of this project has been out for about a month or so, with the second installment being released on May 3. But, Kanye being Kanye, I highly doubt that will happen. Either way, judging by my reaction to VULTURES 1, I don’t intend on listening to it anyways because it isn’t worth my time.

Needless to say, making my way through that album, it felt like being the cashier in an overworked and understaffed fast-casual restaurant. You just zone out for the majority of it; almost every song feels like another menial task to complete and everything just flows together in one big time mush. The only standouts are things that are particularly offensive in the moment, like a particularly annoying customer or an impatient Doordash driver. 

Except, in the case of VULTURES 1, those moments stay offensive, especially when Ye revels in his anti-semitism, or objectifies his romantic partner Bianca Censori in some really disgusting ways.

Of course, unlike his anti-semitism, at a certain point, it’s pretty useless to criticize Kanye on grounds of misogyny alone. He, like a lot of his contemporaries, have been objectifying women for most of their careers. Ultimately, it’s a societal problem but that’s for a different editorial.

But, what I can say is that it’s easier to tolerate that language, on a musical level at the very least, if the songs are good.

And, as I’ve mentioned earlier, the songs on VULTURES are not good (in most cases they’re straight up unfinished), making lyrics like “I’m not racist, it’s a preference, And my bitch lookin’ like a reference,” stick out like a sore thumb.

And then, of course, there’s Ty Dolla Sign, who is just such a non-presence on this album. It’s honestly pretty sad, especially when considering the fact that it was meant to be a collaborative effort.

At least with Ye there’s a vague sense of vision, even if said vision was to rap the most controversial, mind-numbing bars over the most mediocre trap beats known to man. That’s not the case with Mr. Dolla Sign, who, in his own words, is just there to get paid.

Ultimately, I think that there’s just an fundamental aura of failure surrounding the entire album, and not just the music. The alt-right dog whistles, the titanium dentures, the rabid, cult-like fanbase, the Anthony Fantano review (or un-review, so to speak), it all really serves as a symbol of Ye’s downward spiral as an artist and person.

To a very small but certain extent, I do feel for the guy, especially after learning more about the full context of his career, life, and issues with bipolar disorder. It’s been very clear to me and others that he’s been struggling mentally for years at this point.

But, the sympathy I have developed over the course of this editorial is running incredibly thin, especially as he continues to surround himself with yes-men and double down on his extreme behavior. 

In other words: Ye’s mental health issues are an explanation, but not an excuse.

When I mentioned that Kanye’s music was a little overrated earlier, I wasn’t just referring to the music itself, I was referring to the baggage surrounding it. All of these new, bad developments are actively ruining Ye’s legacy, making his flaws all the more apparent, and the VULTURES project is only making things worse.

What happens to Ye, only time will tell, but right now, it’s pretty bad. I sincerely hope that he gets the help that he so desperately needs, but in order for that to happen, he needs to stop being in the public eye for at least a few years.

I highly doubt that’s going to happen anytime soon.

When it comes to his wide body of work, I feel as if I can only look to the past, and at the end of the day, I think I’m fine with that. 

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About the Contributor
Jonas Lord
Jonas Lord, Managing Editor
My name is Jonas Lord and this is my third and final year in journalism. I'm a managing editor who has primarily worked as part of the LHS Budget, all while contributing to the yearbook and social media. When I'm not working on journalism, I'm working on the Lions Roar as a segment contributor. I also draw, edit, make music, and eat large amounts of breakfast cereal. Emails for questions/inquires: [email protected] [email protected] [email protected] Link to my Soundcloud:

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