Vultures 1

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Vultures 1
A photograph of West completely obscured by all-black clothing (including an opaque head covering) standing next to his wife, Bianca Censori, with her back turned, wearing stockings and a sheer black cloth around her waist
Studio album by
¥$
ReleasedFebruary 10, 2024 (2024-02-10)
Genre
Length55:33
LabelYZY
Producer
Kanye West chronology
Donda 2
(2022)
Vultures 1
(2024)
Ty Dolla Sign chronology
Cheers to the Best Memories
(2021)
Vultures 1
(2024)
Original cover
Cover originally promoted and seen on the album's pre-release page on Apple Music; A variation of this cover without "Volume 1" at the bottom right is still used for the Vultures Pack compilation EP.
Cover originally promoted and seen on the album's pre-release page on Apple Music; A variation of this cover without "Volume 1" at the bottom right is still used for the Vultures Pack compilation EP.
Singles from Vultures 1
  1. "Vultures"
    Released: November 22, 2023
  2. "Talking / Once Again"
    Released: February 9, 2024
  3. "Carnival"
    Released: February 15, 2024

Vultures 1 is the first collaborative studio album by the American rapper Kanye West and singer Ty Dolla Sign, who are collectively billed as ¥$. It was released independently through West's YZY brand on February 10, 2024. The album features uncredited guest vocals from West's daughter North, Freddie Gibbs, YG, Quavo, Playboi Carti, Travis Scott, Bump J, Lil Durk, Rich the Kid, and Chris Brown. Production was primarily handled by West himself, alongside Digital Nas, JPEGMafia, Chrishan, 88-Keys, Wheezy, Ojivolta, DJ Camper, Timbaland, No I.D., Wax Motif, Kaytranada, the Legendary Traxster, and Anthony Kilhoffer, among others. The album follows both artists' 2021 studio albums Donda and Cheers to the Best Memories, and marks the third collaborative album for each of them.

Vultures 1 sustained multiple delays and changes to its tracklist before its final release; it was first teased throughout late 2023 under the placeholder title ¥$. Several listening events to promote the album, including a multi-stadium listening event and a concert in Reggio Emilia, were canceled. "Vultures", which features guest vocals from Bump J and Lil Durk, was released on November 22 and served as its lead single. West previewed snippets of songs for Vultures 1 at a minor event in a restaurant in Wynwood, Florida, on December 10, and held the first in a set of listening events titled "Vultures Rave" two days later, which featured artists of whom were intended to appear on the album. Listening parties in Chicago and New York City on February 8 and 9, 2024, respectively, bookended the release of the second single, "Talking / Once Again". The album was released on February 10, commemorating the twentieth anniversary of West's debut studio album, The College Dropout (2004). It is set to be followed up by Vultures 2 and Vultures 3, slated for release on March 8 and April 5, respectively. On February 15, 2024, the business-to-business music distributor FUGA started to remove the album from streaming and download services, because it had been published using their platform's automated processes after they had explicitly declined to publish it. It was redistributed the same day through Label Engine, coinciding with "Carnival" being released as the third single from the album. Two more listening events took place in Italy on February 22 and 24 in Milan and Bologna respectively.

In contrast to West's previous two albums, Donda and Jesus Is King, Vultures 1 finds him mostly forgoing religious themes. The album was released in the wake of West's antisemitic comments in late 2022, and received mixed reviews from critics. Many criticized the album's unoriginality and lyrics, namely those addressing West's rhetoric towards preceding controversies. However, some complimented West's production and Ty Dolla Sign's contributions. The album debuted atop the US Billboard 200, becoming West's eleventh number-one album, and Ty Dolla Sign's first. Vultures 1 also reached number one in twelve other countries, including Australia, Belgium, and Canada. All 16 tracks from Vultures 1 debuted on the Billboard Hot 100, with "Carnival" charting the highest, peaking at number three.

Background and recording

On August 25, 2023, NBC News reported from two sources that West had been working on music throughout the summer and planned to release an album, revealing "new music is imminent".[1] West held a private listening event for the album in Italy on October 1 that Ty Dolla Sign attended and it was rumored they had been collaborating on the project.[2] During that same month, the musicians were spotted in recording studios in Italy, alongside other artists. A joint concert at RCF Arena in Reggio Emilia, Italy was reportedly planned for October 20, 2023, but was delayed by a week and then canceled.[3][4]

Chris Brown pictured in Kingston, Jamaica in 2013
Freddie Gibbs performing with Madlib in 2014
Chris Brown (left) and Freddie Gibbs (right) appear on Vultures 1.

In an Instagram post on October 23, 2023, Ty Dolla Sign confirmed the album's existence. The post contained a black background with white text that displayed "¥$", their duo name; the symbol next to the dollar sign represents the Japanese Yen.[5][6][7] During a performance in early November 2023, Ty Dolla Sign stated that he had just flown in from Saudi Arabia, where he was working with West on their upcoming collaborative studio album and said it would be "coming real soon".[8] Videos of the two recording with American rapper Lil Baby also surfaced online.[9] Images were released of West working on music at a desert studio in the Arabic oasis city al-Ula, appearing in a sparse setting surrounded by chairs and tents.[10][11] West was joined during writing sessions in Dubai by British singer ZLYAH, who was taken aback by the invitation and that the rapper enjoyed his music since he saw him as an inspiration. ZLYAH contributed to the writing of "Carnival" and he learnt from this as his first writing credit for another artist; the singer said the process was to "write down ideas and pitch stuff" after being provided with beat packages for the instrumentals.[12] He elaborated that West sent reference tracks to the songwriters and they improvised over beats, surmising they "had great chemistry" from the start and noting the rapper was involved with the songwriting too.[12] British record producer Fred Again played snippets of a song by West and Ty Dolla Sign at a club, rumored to be from their collaborative project.[13]

On December 13, 2023, media outlets reported that the Backstreet Boys interpolation in "Everybody" wasn't authorized by the band.[14] The following day, West sent a text message to fellow rapper Nicki Minaj asking her for permission to include "New Body" on the album; during an Instagram Live stream, to which she denied his request, saying: "Why would I put out a song that's been out for three years?"[15] In response to Nicki Minaj's statements, West said: "I made that girl rewrite her verse three times for 'Monster'. I supported her career. So I don't know what it is."[16] On December 29, 2023, "Everybody" was rumored to be released on streaming services. However, it was not released and DJ Pharris previewed another track, "Talking", on the Power 92 radio station instead.[17] In late December, around the same time the album was delayed, West issued an apology in Hebrew to "the Jewish community" for his antisemitism.[18] On January 2, 2024, West's longtime collaborator, Malik Yusef, posted a picture of Ty in the studio, claiming that he was rerecording all of his verses as well as recording new ones.[19] On February 12, after the album had been released, West declared to TMZ that he was two months from bankruptcy before his relocation to Italy, providing his maximum effort. West explained he "moved to the factories" and managed to survive cancellation, commenting that he was less concerned with being controversial rather than "the ability to say how you felt out loud" due to his perceived skillset he felt helped him survive.[20]

Music and themes

Vultures 1 is a hip hop album that encompasses house, R&B, and trap,[21] incorporating elements of gospel and industrial music.[22][23][24] The album was described as more cohesive than West's recent records;[21][24][25] none of the tracks are mumbled.[23] Steven J. Horowitz of Variety surmised the musicality as a collection "of sharp aural moments that twists and shifts at each turn", observing that the different producers provide variety and scope.[26] Pitchfork's Paul A. Thompson described the beats as "rhythmically complex", with a lack of any heavy influences.[23] According to The Guardian journalist Alexis Petridis, Vultures 1 features a variety of styles, although he thought it is still uneven.[27] In AllMusic, Fred Thomas noted West demonstrates the "same electric inventiveness" that made him famous as a producer, attributing this to aspects of the tracks like sparseness, funk, and orchestral music.[28] The New York Times journalist Jon Caramanica specified that the album reminds him of "the texture-focused darkwave rap" style utilized by rappers Playboi Carti and Travis Scott, which originated with West's 2013 record Yeezus.[29]

Of West's performances, Thompson believed he utilizes an "airy, endearing singing voice" and his rapping possesses technical precision.[23] West and Ty Dolla Sign speak of women on the album, frequently making sexual references.[21] The rapper provides reminders of his controversies, including his antisemitism that he alludes to his previous apology for.[27][29][30] For the first few tracks, West demonstrates calmness as he tries to move past the controversies, before he moves the focus towards them.[31]

Songs

Vultures 1 opens with the slow-building gospel track "Stars", where West's vocal pitch rises and falls.[23][31] Lyrically, him and Ty Dolla Sign embrace their accomplishments;[32] the rapper dismisses being canceled and asserts that he "keeps a few Jews on the staff now" after his previous comments.[21][29][33] "Keys to My Life" is a pop song that features an upbeat drum pattern,[28][31] seeing West rap about the aftermath of his divorce from Kim Kardashian.[21][32][34] He also addresses his relationship with Australian model Bianca Censori, mentioning how he aims to have another child.[32] "Paid" incorporates elements of funk, electronic, and dubstep, relying on an upbeat drum pattern.[24][28][31] The song is themed around capitalism and includes dance-pop style crooning from Ty Dolla Sign, while West delivers an interpolation of the Police's "Roxanne" (1973).[21][32] According to Billboard's Michael Saponara, West "utilizes his baby voice" that invokes his 2022 appearance with conspiracy theorist Alex Jones on InfoWars.[32] The next track, "Talking / Once Again", continues the drum pattern and features Kanye's daughter North West proclaiming on the chorus she is "your bestie", asserting that she should not be tested.[31][32][35] Ty Dolla Sign delivers a verse about his daughter growing up and expresses hope she has been raised properly, and Kanye West closes the track by crooning about the clouds once again "gathering to release what they held in".[35]

"Back to Me" is built around programmed rolling drums and a bassline, evoking the structure of West's 2010 single "Runaway".[26] The line, "Beautiful, naked, big-titty womеn just don't fall out the sky, you know?", is a soundbite from Jay and Silent Bob, which West and Ty Dolla Sign repeat throughout.[31][32] Freddie Gibbs contributes a guest rap verse, where he compares himself to Elon Musk.[27] "Hoodrat" follows and contains a siren that repeats its title, accompanied by steel drums.[21][31][32] West boasts about engaging in sexual activity with a woman, whom he dubs as a "whore".[21][23] The conclusion utilizes an excerpt of Mike Tyson speaking of West, acknowledging his greatness and mental issues as most leaders have, such as his delusion of believing that "I Am a God".[26][32] "Do It" features orchestral elements and relies on 808s, with themes of money and women.[28][32] West starts the song by telling those who do not like him that it is their loss, later boasting of sending a random woman $100,000 on Apple Pay.[23][32] "Paperwork" prominently incorporates Brazilian funk,[21][23][24] moving away from 808s to guitar synths. The song includes distorition, with lyrics about making money.[27][32] "Burn" is a soulful number that was described as reminiscent of West's early material,[21][26][31] which includes him making his financial problems out to be a positive.[33][34] West calls out critics as he alleges they have been "entertained by my pain",[31][32][34] while implying that his issues provided liberation. The rapper also compares himself to singer R. Kelly and on the final chorus, he harmonizes with Ty Dolla Sign.[31][30][32]

"Fuk Sumn" features bass and the theme of sexual fantasies, with West rapping "This the real, not a version" and Playboi Carti cooing repeatedly.[23][32] "Vultures" is a trap track that contains prominent synths, drums, and a beat switch.[30][31] West references his previous antisemitism controversy by questioning "How I'm antisemitic? I just fucked a Jewish bitch",[27][31][32] later followed by Ty Dolla Sign's line "She Russian, I beat up the pussy for Ukraine".[21][30] Ty Dolla Sign sings with Auto-Tune, only making moderate usage of the technology.[27] "Carnival" opens with a crowd chant of "ooohhh" that repeats throughout, accompanied by percussion that echoes chanting.[33] In the lyrics, West references his rival Taylor Swift and calls out cancel culture as he dubs himself "Ye-Kelly",[26] making comparisons also to Bill Cosby and Puff Daddy, while defending singer Chris Brown.[21][32][33] "Beg Forgiveness" includes hollow drums and an interpolation of Joseph Goddard's "Gabriel" (2013), featuring Brown shaming a subject that seeks his forgiveness.[21][32] "Good (Don't Die)" is an electropop track with a vintage groove and goes against the style of hip hop,[31][32] alongside an interpolation of singer Donna Summer's "I Feel Love" (1977). This is coupled with harmonies from Ty Dolla Sign, who sings "don't die" with West.[21][26][32] "Problematic" was described as evoking West's earlier works, utilizing loud horns.[21][34] West recalls those early days when he lived in New Jersey and travelled to New York City, seeking out fame.[32] For the hook of the album's closing track "King", West addresses his controversies by telling those who labeled him as "crazy, bipolar, antisemite" that he is "still the king".[21][32][33][34]

Release and promotion

On October 13, 2023, Billboard reported that West and Ty Dolla Sign were planning to release a collaborative album and were shopping it to five different record labels for distribution.[36][37] The labels had been distancing themselves from West due to his widely publicized antisemitic comments in late 2022.[37] The album had seemingly been delayed because Universal Music Group, the parent company of Def Jam Recordings, West's previous label, stated that they were no longer working with him whatsoever.[38] Ty Dolla Sign posted a handwritten tracklist for the project to his Instagram account on December 8, 2023.[39][40] Later that night, West previewed the opening track, "Everybody", which included a sample from the Backstreet Boys song "Everybody (Backstreet's Back)".[41] Later on December 10, West played snippets of songs planned for the album at a restaurant in Wynwood, Florida, revealing guest contributions from Brown and American rappers Future and Young Thug.[42] At the preview, West revealed the title as Vultures and said it would be released on December 15.[43] On December 12, 2023, Vultures was made available to pre-save on streaming services, although the pre-save link disappeared a few days later.[44][45] On December 14, MDLBeast SoundStorm posted a late announcement on their Instagram account that West would be playing at their festival in the Saudi Arabian capital Riyadh and referenced the album.[46] West did not perform at the festival, although he was photographed with fellow rapper Will Smith after he played there.[47] On December 21, 2023, representatives for West confirmed to Billboard that the release of Vultures had been further delayed to January 12, 2024.[48][49]

On January 11, 2024, one day before the expected release date, Vultures was delayed to January 19.[50] Three days later, footage emerged of West and Ty Dolla Sign filming a music video for the song "Fuk Sumn", alongside Playboi Carti.[51] On January 16, Vultures was again delayed to February 9, 2024.[52] On January 23, West released the trailer for the album via Instagram, announcing it would be the first volume in the Vultures trilogy. Vultures 1 is set to be followed by Vultures 2 and Vultures 3 on March 8 and April 5, 2024, respectively.[53][54][55] On January 30, North was seen wearing a Vultures shirt, which included an updated tracklist for the album on its back.[56] On February 6, 2024, West posted a video to Instagram Stories of himself lamenting not being able to secure any venues for a Vultures world tour, alleging this was because of his controversy from late 2022. West highlighted that he had "not been allowed to perform in a year" and compared this to the 2022 film Elvis; he quickly received text messages with offers for venues from many of his collaborators.[57][58] He subsequently posted screenshots of these texts detailing possible cities for the tour, including New York, Toronto, London, Dubai, Lagos, Melbourne, and Tokyo.[57][59] The tour would start in the Summer of 2024 and run into early 2025, with plans to also visit "iconic international venue options" such as the Brazilian mountain Corcovado, the Great Wall of China, and Egypt's Giza pyramid complex.[59]

Vultures 1 had yet to release on its scheduled date in February 2024, leading Clash's Robin Murray to believe the album had again been delayed.[60] Vultures 1 was released to streaming services independently through West's YZY brand on February 10, 2024.[61][62][63][64] Multiple publications noted that the release coincided with the 20th anniversary of West's debut studio album, The College Dropout; The Ringer's Justin Charity opined this is "a sign of how distressingly far" he has come since his first single "Through the Wire" in 2003.[65][33][32] Upon release, it topped the Apple Music albums chart in the United States.[66][67] The album did not initially appear on Spotify, which West alluded to with an Instagram post of a conversation between two collaborators discussing whether this would impact the chart position or if the service was behind for releases.[68][69] Later that same day, it was made available on Spotify and left Apple Music charts after briefly disappearing from the service without any explanation. Vultures 1 was quickly re-released on the platforms, although it has not been made available on YouTube Music.[66]

On February 11, 2024, West reposted a report to Instagram Stories that Vultures 1 had topped digital charts in 72 countries, a list notably including Israel when considering West's 2022 antisemitic comments and the references to that controversy on the album.[70] That same day, it resulted in West becoming the first-ever independent artist to be the most-streamed act on Spotify and also taking Swift's top position.[71] On February 12, 2024, West made merchandise available for the album on his Yeezy.com website, priced at $20 per item as he had proposed. The merchandise features his Yeezy Pods, WET tank, and WET romper. It also includes the Vultures 1 box tee, Vultures logo box tee, a long-sleeve logo shirt, a long-sleeve shirt with the original cover art, and what were known as "vulture pants".[72] On February 16, 2024, Kanye West and Ty Dolla Sign were announced as headliners for Rolling Loud California 2024; they are set to perform on Thursday, March 14, at the Hollywood Park Grounds in Inglewood, California, marking the first time that the festival has expanded from its usual three-day schedule. Ty Dolla Sign was originally scheduled to perform a solo slot on March 16.[73] Vultures 1 grossed around $1,000,000 in its opening week, with $892,000 from streams and roughly $145,000 from sales.[74] In response to the commercial success in the US, West issued a statement to Complex that it is "a beautiful time", while Ty Dolla Sign posted a video to Instagram Stories of him lifting his index finger to silence critics.[75]

¥$ listening party in Bologna, Italy, for Vultures 1 (2024)

During the last days of February 2024, ¥$ did three more arena listening parties, located in Milan, Bologna and Paris, where they also previewed the unreleased track "Everybody", and an unreleased additional feature by Quavo from the album.[76]

Singles

On November 17, 2023, DJ Pharris previewed "Vultures", featuring uncredited guest vocals from rappers Bump J and Lil Durk, on his radio show WPWX Power 92 Chicago. Five days later, the song was released as the lead single from Vultures 1.[77] On February 7, 2024, an alternate version of "Vultures" with production from Havoc of Mobb Deep was released as a promotional single for the album, along with a music video on Instagram that includes footage from the trailer.[78] Following the release of Vultures 1, the song reached number 34 on the US Billboard Hot 100.[79]

On February 7, 2024, "Talking / Once Again", which features uncredited guest vocals from North, premiered via Instagram and YouTube. It was accompanied by a music video that features North getting braids in her hair to match with Kanye's black threads and Ty Dolla Sign gazing at his own daughter, who rests her head on his shoulder in the ending scene.[35] The song was later released as the second single from the album on February 9, 2024.[80] It entered the Billboard Hot 100 at number 30.[79] "Carnival" was released to Apple and YouTube Music as the third single on February 15, 2024; the release was delayed when the album faced temporary removal issues.[81] The song charted at number three on the Hot 100.[79] In the United Kingdom, the song debuted at number 12 on the UK Singles Chart.[82]

Post-release issues

Featured, sampled and interpolated artists' objections

On February 9, 2024, Ozzy Osbourne posted on Instagram that West was refused permission to sample a 1983 Black Sabbath live performance of the song "War Pigs", but that he had done so anyway on "Carnival". While a leaked version of the track used the sample, the version played at the Chicago listening event did not.[83] West later removed the sample from the song, and was instead replaced by his own track "Hell of a Life", which itself samples "Iron Man".[84] The same day, DJ Roca, one of the artists responsible for "Montagem Faz Macete 3.0", sampled in "Paperwork", shared his appreciation for the usage of his song on Instagram.[85]

Following the release of Vultures 1, Summer's estate posted an Instagram story stating that they had not authorized the use of "I Feel Love" for "Good (Don't Die)". They alleged that "he changed the words, had someone re sing [sic] it or used AI" but that it still constituted "copyright infringement".[86] The song was removed from Spotify on February 14, 2024, a day before it was retracted from Amazon Music, Apple Music, and the iTunes Store.[81][87][88]

FUGA distribution dispute and withdrawal

On February 15, 2024, the distribution platform company FUGA released a statement that they were working with streaming service providers to remove Vultures 1 from streaming services after the label delivered its release.[89][90] The statement revealed that FUGA had been offered the release in late 2023 and had declined to publish the album, but the final release had nevertheless been delivered through the company's automated processes by a "long-standing FUGA client" in violation of their service agreement.[89][90] FUGA also confirmed the client was collaborating with them on the removal.[89][90] The album was temporarily removed from the iTunes Store and Apple Music, before being added back that same day by a different distributor, Label Engine.[88]

Listening events

On October 23, 2023, Ty Dolla Sign announced a "multi stadium listening event" to be held on November 3 in promotion of Vultures 1, similar to listening parties West hosted during the release of his tenth studio album Donda (2021).[5][91][92] Leading up to the events, the duo were spotted in Riyadh, creating speculation amongst fans that they would take place there.[13] The events were canceled, with the plans to release the album that night being scrapped.[93][94] Some fans were disappointed as they likened the repeated delays and cancellations to Yandhi, an album by West slated for release in 2018. The album was then delayed a year, and eventually released and drastically overhauled under the name of Jesus Is King; West also delayed the release of Donda by a year.[94][95]

On December 10, 2023, Ty Dolla Sign announced a listening event entitled Vultures Rave to be held in Sunrise, Florida, on December 12.[96] Simultaneously, Playboi Carti revealed that West had invited him to perform at the Vultures Rave.[96] At the event, Kanye West played 10 tracks from Vultures 1, along with guests Brown, Offset, Kodak Black, Lil Durk, Bump J, Freddie Gibbs, and North.[97] Technical difficulties prevented them from previewing more songs from the album.[98] West faced criticism for wearing a black hooded outfit at the Vultures Rave, with several commentators noting its similarity to traditional Ku Klux Klan uniforms. He had previously evoked Ku Klux Klan imagery for his single "Black Skinhead" in 2013,[99][98] though Trace William Cowen of Complex noted that context of the imagery has since changed because of West's 2022 praise for Nazi dictator Adolf Hitler.[100] Carlos de Loera of the Los Angeles Times opined that West's outfit served to amplify his antisemitic remarks and other inflammatory beliefs.[101] On December 15, 2023, a second listening party took place in Las Vegas, Nevada; tickets ran for $2,000 each through Eventnoire, making attendance of the Las Vegas listening party more exclusive than its predecessor. The event was 'disbanded' by the Las Vegas police, citing no licensing from the promoter's end and holding the event without a permit, though the event resumed in the form of a short show some time later.[102] XXL reported that an additional listening event would be held in Saudi Arabia and that Vultures 1 was set for release on December 31.[103]

United Center view from September 2015
The first public listening event for Vultures 1 was held at Chicago's United Center on February 8, 2024, which started at 10 p.m. after a production delay and was streamed through Veeps for $19.99.

On February 5, 2024, West and Ty Dolla Sign announced the album's first public listening event at Chicago's United Center via separate posts for February 8. The venue's website said that the event "marks a historic moment" of attendees listening to Vultures 1 with the contributing artists before its release, suggesting offering this would be iconic by bringing them together to celebrate "creativity and innovation".[104] Tickets for the event sold out on the day of the announcement and the live stream was held through the streaming platform Veeps, which charged $19.99 per viewer,[105][106] and apps such as Apple TV and Samsung TV Plus.[107] The show started at around 10 p.m. CST, one hour later than scheduled due to what a venue doorperson dubbed a "production delay".[108][109] West and Ty Dolla Sign wore outfits matching the music video for "Vultures"; the rapper's outfit consisted of a black leather bomber jacket, leather pants, and a white hockey mask, while the singer wore a loose, long black trench coat with a balaclava and a black half-ski mask. Guests who performed with the collaborators included North, YG, Bump J, and Freddie Gibbs. The crowd reacted enthusiastically to North's appearance, while Chance the Rapper was in attendance at the event.[108][109][110][111] The stage was covered in smoke, surrounded by white flags with the Vultures logo.[108][109][110] The live stream was cut off abruptly after West rapped a line with "antisemite", although it soon resumed.[112] At the live stream's end, it cut to black and featured a chat box containing messages like "Yefund".[106]

On February 7, 2024, West posted to Instagram that a second listening event would be held at UBS Arena in New York's Belmont Park, coinciding with the release date. The event offered "a high-fidelity audio and visual showcase".[105][113] Tickets were sold online for $225, although an attendee for NPR reported they were sold on site for $180.[114] The show was supposed to start at 9 p.m., yet it began around two hours late.[112][115] Smog clouded the arena, which West and Ty Dolla Sign walked around for 45 minutes wearing their face coverings.[112][22][115][116] Playboi Carti, Roddy Ricch, and Rich the Kid made appearances.[112][115] On February 16, 2024, West and Ty Dolla Sign announced "a hi-fidelity audio experience" of listening parties for Vultures 1 in Italy.[117][118] The events took place in Milan and Bologna on February 22 and 24, respectively.[117][118] West and Ty Dolla Sign played tracks from Vultures 1, as well as songs from West's older albums, including "Can't Tell Me Nothing" and "Runaway".[119] Two days after his previous announcement, West posted that a "listening experience" will be held at Paris's Accor Arena on February 25, 2024.[120]

Listening event dates
Date City Country Venue Attendance Revenue
December 12, 2023 Miami United States Wynwood Marketplace
December 15, 2023 Las Vegas 13850 S. Decatur Blvd (Warehouse)
February 8, 2024 Chicago United Center
February 10, 2024 Elmont UBS Arena
February 11, 2024 Las Vegas 3120 S. Las Vegas Blvd (Tent setup in lot)
February 22, 2024 Milan Italy Mediolanum Forum
February 24, 2024 Bologna Unipol Arena
February 25, 2024 Paris France Accor Arena

Cover art

Landscape with Graves original painting
The original cover art for Vultures 1 incorporated Caspar David Friedrich's Landscape with Graves.[121][122]

The originally announced cover art for Vultures 1 used German artist Caspar David Friedrich's 1835 painting Landscape with Graves, which shows a bleak island horizon photo along with a bird atop a shovel in a graveyard. A large black border was added around the picture, with "VULTURES" at the top in all-caps. This cover was revealed on December 11, 2023, when Playboi Carti posted an iMessage exchange between him and West where he was sent that version.[123][124] On December 12, Ty Dolla Sign revealed an alternate monochrome cover via Instagram, featuring the subtitle "Volume 1" in the bottom right corner.[125]

Writing for HipHopDX, Sam Moore described the Friedrich cover art as being "linked to Nazism", noting Friedrich was one of Hitler's favorite artists. Moore further found that the cover's typography was reminiscent of that used for albums by Burzum, a black metal project founded by neo-Nazi[126] Varg Vikernes; the project was previously sampled on Gucci Mane's "Pussy Print" in 2016, which features West.[121] The Burzum comparison and Hitler's adoration of Friedrich were also reported on by The Guardian and The Independent.[122][127] West was later photographed wearing a Burzum shirt in a tweet with collaborator JPEGMafia, which Vikernes responded to by praising West for having the courage to wear his project's shirt in public.[128][129] Following the release of Vultures 1, merchandise was available online for sale that features the Friedrich cover art.[72]

When the album was released on February 10, 2024, it had a new cover, which was photographed by director Aus Taylor.[130][131] The cover depicts West wearing an all-black outfit with a hockey mask, first a white mask but then changed to all-black, standing next to Bianca Censori. Censori has her back to the camera and is mostly nude above her thighs, only obscuring part of her bottom with a rectangular piece of sheer black cloth, and wearing black stockings and high heels.[130] Some Twitter users noted that while West and his partner were featured on the cover, Ty Dolla Sign was absent.[130] The white hockey mask, which was also featured at the listening parties, was widely considered a reference to Jason Voorhees from the Friday the 13th film franchise.[108][109][131][132] Kane Hodder, an actor from the franchise, reacted to the mask by saying it is "kind of a cheesy one" and he offered West one of his masks used for the character.[132]

Critical reception

Professional ratings
Aggregate scores
SourceRating
Metacritic51/100[133]
Review scores
SourceRating
AllMusic[28]
Evening Standard[30]
Financial Times[134]
The Guardian[27]
HipHopDX3/5[31]
NME[21]
Pitchfork5.8/10[23]
The Times[135]
The Needle DropUnreviewable

Vultures 1 was met with mixed reviews from critics.[136] According to the review aggregator Metacritic, Vultures 1 received "mixed or average reviews" based on a weighted average score of 51 out of 100 from seven critic scores.[133]

Wren Graves of Consequence found the album to be unoriginal, and dismissed its lyrics as mostly "broad griping and trollery", calling it "repetitive, redundant, and far too impressed with itself to be enjoyed by anyone but true believers".[34] In a review for The Times, Will Hodgkinson called Vultures 1 "a charmless disaster". He panned the lyrics, describing them as "the most tired hip-hop clichés", and the production, finding it unoriginal for West.[135] He also criticized the way that West addressed controversies prior to release, especially his antisemitic comments. Nonetheless, Hodgkinson found that "Vultures is not all bad" and cited "Stars", "Keys to My Life", "Talking", and "Good (Don't Die)" as highlights.[135] Petridis of The Guardian opined that the album was an improvement on Donda, but said West's verses are "profoundly depressing" and criticized his inclination to controversy on the basis that he "thinks he can get away with it".[27]

Rhian Daly of NME wrote that "West shows glimmers of greatness but also makes it hard to enjoy those moments for too long", and characterized the album's mixing as poor and its lyrics as misogynistic, while praising "Burn" and highlighting "Talking" as the standouts.[21] Complex head of music Eric Skelton wrote that, 20 years into his recording career, West was "still an excellent producer and curator".[33] He considered Ty Dolla Sign the right collaborator for the project and praised the combination of his vocals with West's production. He cited "Burn" as a highlight, feeling that it "sounds like it could have been a long-lost track from [The College Dropout or Late Registration]".[33] Nonetheless, his opinion about the lyrics was more mixed, saying West is "still a defiant troll who can't help but reach for cringey jokes and clunky one-liners that detract from otherwise strong performances"; he summarized that "the controversies are addressed in a very Kanye way".[33] Rolling Stone reviewer Jayson Buford characterized Vultures 1 as "a serviceable record" and said the production still shows West's ability despite being sparse, though felt he makes Ty Dolla Sign "sound as bubbly as he's been" since the presidency of Barack Obama.[24] Buford also observed that West may not be moving culture forward anymore, yet the gospel usage "is still as prevalent as ever, and so is the way it interacts with the album's secular content" by the heavy presence of secular culture as the rapper wishes to live "in a more conservative world".[24]

Saponara, who ranked the album's songs for Billboard, commented on its release, saying many would consider Vultures 1 West's comeback album as his first independent project, "but nearly all of his projects are fueled by some form of plight he's fighting against".[32] Saponara praised certain aspects of the production and Ty Dolla Sign's contributions, while he named "Carnival" his favorite song on the album, calling it a prime example of why people tolerate "all of the controversies, album delays and madness that come with being a Ye fan because nobody in rap creates generational moments like this".[32] Caramanica of The New York Times remarked that West merely addresses his controversies "in glances, no-stakes responses to a high-stakes game" and found the lyrics to be "full of puerile punchlines that might feel freeingly childlike" at a lower intensity, concluding the album "makes more sense is in its production, which is scabrous and tense, moodily emotive and urgent", deeper than the words.[29]

Chris Richards of The Washington Post considered that Vultures 1 is West's "most cogent effort in years, which actually means very little considering his past three outings – Ye, Jesus Is King and Donda – seemed to fall apart" upon listening, criticizing the unoriginality and lyrical content.[25] In a positive review at HipHopDX, Scott Glaysher said the album seemingly "does a great job at disguising Ye's past year of turmoil" in tracks that are reminiscent of Donda, while he noted that West and Ty Dolla Sign become "a little mundane" through repetition later on.[31] Glaysher concluded that the album "doesn't move the needle" for the performers, although he felt it still provides hope for the "old Kanye".[31]

Music critic Anthony Fantano called the album "completely unreviewable trash" and "messy and unhinged" in a review. He deemed it West's worst album, bashing West's antisemitic comments and his performance on the album. [137]

Commercial performance

Vultures 1 debuted at number one on the US Billboard 200 after a five-day tracking period, with 148,000 album-equivalent units that consisted of 129,000 streaming-equivalent units, 18,000 pure album sales, and 1,000 track-equivalent units. It became West's 11th consecutive number-one album on the chart, making him the artist with the second-most consecutive number-one debuts. West also tied with Bruce Springsteen and Barbra Streisand for the fourth most chart-toppers overall and became the rapper with the third most, breaking his tie with Eminem.[79][138] The album stood as Ty Dolla Sign's first chart-topper and his second top 10 entry, following Featuring Ty Dolla Sign in 2020.[138] It further reached number one on the US Independent Albums and Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums charts.[139][140] Elsewhere in North America, Vultures 1 debuted atop the Canadian Albums Chart.[141]

In Europe, Vultures 1 entered the German Top 100 Albums chart at number four and rose to the top position in its second week, marking West's first number-one album in Germany.[142][143] The album also topped the charts in Austria,[144] Belgium's Flanders region,[145] the Czech Republic,[146] Denmark,[147] Finland,[148] Iceland,[149] Lithuania,[150] the Netherlands,[151] Norway,[152] Poland,[153] Slovakia,[154] and Switzerland.[155] Vultures 1 entered the UK Albums Chart at number two, prevented from topping the chart by Noah Kahan's Stick Season (2022). It stood as Ty Dolla Sign's first top-40 album in the UK and the most-streamed record of the week, while 3,192 sales were accumulated in the first three days.[82][156] In Ireland, the album reached the same position on the Irish Albums Chart, being blocked from debuting atop the chart by Stick Season.[157] It peaked at number two in Sweden and further attained top five positions in Hungary,[158][159] Spain,[160] and Italy.[161] Vultures 1 topped the ARIA Albums chart, standing as West's fifth number-one album in Australia. It also marked Ty Dolla Sign's first chart topper in the country, surpassing his previous peak of number 37 with Beach House 3 in 2017.[162] Elsewhere in Oceania, the album topped the New Zealand Albums chart.[163]

All 16 album tracks debuted on the Billboard Hot 100; "Carnival" charted the highest at number three and West reached 157 career entries on the Hot 100.[79] "Back to Me", "Burn", and "Carnival" entered the top 20 of the UK Singles Chart and the latter reached the highest position at number 12.[82] The same three tracks debuted within the top 30 of the Irish Singles Chart, of which "Carnival" peaked at number 15.[157]

Track listing

Vultures 1 track listing
No.TitleWriter(s)Producer(s)Length
1."Stars"1:55
2."Keys to My Life"
  • Ye
  • Griffin
  • Timothy Mosley
  • Pemberton
  • India Westbrooks
  • Vincent Verdi
  • Veyis-Can Urun
  • Ye
  • Timbaland
  • Digital Nas
  • Vinnyforgood
  • Veyis
  • Hubi
  • Shdøw
2:54
3."Paid"3:15
4."Talking"
3:05
5."Back to Me"
4:55
6."Hoodrat"
  • Ye
  • 88-Keys
  • DJ Camper
  • Digital Nas
3:42
7."Do It"
3:45
8."Paperwork"
  • Ye
  • Griffin
  • Marshall
  • Pemberton
  • Clemons
  • Victor Hugo dos Santos
  • Bruno Gioia
  • Ye
  • Digital Nas
  • DJ Roca
  • DJ Vitinho Beat
2:25
9."Burn"1:51
10."Fuk Sumn"
  • Ye
  • JPEGMafia
  • Timbaland
  • Digital Nas
  • Chrishan
  • Shdøw
  • Hubi
  • AyoAA
3:29
11."Vultures"
  • Ye
  • Ty Dolla Sign
  • Digital Nas
  • Ojivolta
  • Rambali
  • Wheezy
  • Ambezza
  • Chordz
  • Fya Man
  • Juice
  • Adey
4:36
12."Carnival" (with Rich the Kid and Playboi Carti)
  • Ye
  • Griffin
  • Dimitri Roger
  • Carter
  • Pemberton
  • Grant Dickinson
  • Williams
  • Cubina
  • Ye
  • TheLabCook
  • Ojivolta
  • Digital Nas
4:24
13."Beg Forgiveness"
6:08
14."Good (Don't Die)"
  • Ye
  • Griffin
  • Wilson
  • Hood
  • Ye
  • No I.D.
3:19
15."Problematic"
  • Ye
  • Griffin
  • Njapa
  • Pemberton
  • Clemons
  • Trotter
  • Camper
  • Jakub Słonka
[citation needed]
  • Ye
  • 88-Keys
  • DJ Camper
  • Digital Nas
  • Slonka
3:14
16."King"
  • Ye
  • Griffin
  • Hendricks
  • Glass
  • Dylan Cleary-Krell
  • Arturo Fratini
  • Ye
  • JPEGMafia
  • Wheezy
  • Dez Wright
  • Lester Nowhere
2:36
Total length:55:33

Track notes

Sample credits

Charts

Chart performance for Vultures 1
Chart (2024) Peak
position
Australian Albums (ARIA)[169] 1
Australian Hip Hop/R&B Albums (ARIA)[170] 1
Austrian Albums (Ö3 Austria)[144] 1
Belgian Albums (Ultratop Flanders)[145] 1
Belgian Albums (Ultratop Wallonia)[171] 6
Canadian Albums (Billboard)[141] 1
Czech Albums (ČNS IFPI)[146] 1
Danish Albums (Hitlisten)[172] 1
Dutch Albums (Album Top 100)[151] 1
Finnish Albums (Suomen virallinen lista)[148] 1
French Albums (SNEP)[173] 9
German Albums (Offizielle Top 100)[142] 1
Hungarian Albums (MAHASZ)[159] 3
Icelandic Albums (Plötutíóindi)[149] 1
Irish Albums (OCC)[174] 2
Italian Albums (FIMI)[161] 5
Japanese Digital Albums (Oricon)[175] 20
Japanese Hot Albums (Billboard Japan)[176] 95
Lithuanian Albums (AGATA)[150] 1
New Zealand Albums (RMNZ)[163] 1
Nigerian Albums (TurnTable)[177] 44
Norwegian Albums (VG-lista)[178] 1
Polish Albums (ZPAV)[153] 1
Slovak Albums (ČNS IFPI)[154] 1
Spanish Albums (PROMUSICAE)[179] 3
Swedish Albums (Sverigetopplistan)[158] 2
Swiss Albums (Schweizer Hitparade)[155] 1
UK Albums (OCC)[180] 2
UK Independent Albums (OCC)[181] 3
UK R&B Albums (OCC)[182] 2
US Billboard 200[183] 1
US Independent Albums (Billboard)[139] 1
US Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums (Billboard)[140] 1

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