Let me be clear, while I strongly condemn Kanye's words and actions of late, and understand those who rightly hold it against him, but it's hard for me to boycott the music of one of my favorite artists. This guy has made me love Hip Hop beyond belief, and has left his mark on my life. I was therefore all the more angry with him, the image I have of him has worsened but if I only had to listen to and hang out with people who shared 100% of my opinions, I think there wouldn't really be many people left, because each individual thinks differently, and that's what being broad-minded and open-minded is all about. I stopped following Kanye's interviews and speeches a long time ago because they don't make much sense anymore (on the contrary, it's sometimes terrifying), let alone interest me, but his music remains one of the last things where he has genius and coherence left. Finally, the fact that he's ill is not an excuse that can forgive everything, and his recent public apology can never undo the damage that's been done.
Musically, "Vulture 1" is uninhibited, as if Y$ had nothing left to prove, which makes it fun. Of course, Kanye has always accustomed us to never really following the rules, but we can draw a parallel with "The Life Of Pablo" by its similarities: despite its eclecticism, the album had the ambition to be the one of consecration. In contrast, "Vulture 1" has no goal: you just press play and that's it. This type of concept works if the whole is sufficiently solid and effective, and this is the case. The latter is much more introspective than of late, often contrasting with his controversal impulsiveness.
The introduction, "Stars", is like an appetizer that had much more promising potential. Nevertheless, the minimalism of the flows and vocals remains well executed, and the instrumental and sample rather catchy. Kanye had accustomed us to complex introductions that were all part of the best of his discography (do the test on all his albums), but this one leaves us wanting more. "Keys to My Life" stands out for its superb production and the rather serious introspection of its author - Kanye's alone in this case. There are some well-calibrated changes and variations in the beats, but I find the ingredients missing to make this one more successful. In contrast, on a catchy Hip House track, "Paid" doesn't take itself too seriously, and maybe that's what makes it work better. Kanye's clownish high-pitched flow, reminiscent of 645AR, is perfectly articulated, while TY Dolla Sign's performance finally stands out since the record's release. Nothing exceptional, "Paid" is a nice banger.
I have to admit that I'm not a big fan of "Talking". I think it's obviously cute and touching to see Kanye's daughter have a place on the record. North does her best to put out her best performance, with a flow that's rather atypical for the time, that's to be underlined, and it's still fun. On the other hand, the transition to TY is bad, as the two parts are neither coherent nor complementary. What's more, the rest of the song's ending is far too weak, even more so than North's part, who, let's not forget, is a child. Ty and Kanye have already done better in the same register. It's hard to find fault with "Back To Me", which is solid and effective in every respect. Of course, the hedonistic lyrics about the protagonists' sexual desire remain anecdotal. Let's just say I wouldn't listen to Hip Hop for a long time, if that were a big limit. Freddie Gibbs gives a great performance, the first time he's delivered such a crazy verse in a long time. "Hoodrat" isn't calibrated to shine, as the song is a mess of imperfection, a little too repetitive, but the raw timbre the production gives it remains interesting.
Now we head to California for "Do It", a psychedelic hyphy and ratchet anthem. A banger that follows in the footsteps of "Vulture 1", where Ty is at ease. Once again, the song's main featuring adds a real dimension. Let's face it, there are many songs on this album that lack body and consistency, because Kanye isn't as strong as he used to be, and TY does the best he can (he does it well) but it's often still too much. The verse contribution of an additional participant remains almost primordial. Some may say that Kanye has always used a team of featurings to help him out, but it's getting hard for the conductor these days. "Paperwork" is a "Yeezus - TLOP"-type song, which doesn't make it very original. Unfortunately, it remains too calculated, and Quavo fails to save the day.
"Burn" gives the impression that this song is a mashup, however it's really good. Kanye sounds a bit like Old Kanye added to alt-pop instrumentation, fused with a TY chorus. The song seems so prefabricated, but the chemistry just clicks. The short format also makes it spontaneous. Over Atlanta trap, "Fuk Sumn" establishes itself as a formidable banger, with safe ingredients like a verse from Carti (2024 version) and Travis Scott. The whole thing is sufficiently in tune with the times, and well crafted enough not to fall into the cliché of a reheated dish. I won't go into too much detail - I'm probably one of the only people who doesn't hate the eponymous song - but it's obvious that Kanye's verse is a big ink stain. I don't understand why he didn't rewrite that verse. By the way, the Havoc version is better on the first part, but TY unfortunately doesn't fit with the new instrumental.
In fact, the second half of the album from "Burn" onwards remains much more successful, with the exception of the last song, "King", which I won't comment on, because it's bad. "Carnival" is like "Fuk Sumn", a trap anthem that will have stadiums and parties rocking, but this one is on a higher level. Seeing Rich The Kid deliver a verse of this value still amazes me, not forgetting Carti's phenomenal performance of course. This is clearly the banger of the album. Another highlight of the album is "Beg Forgiveness". Here’s a new tribute to Tina Turner on "Good (Don't Die)". I'd never heard Kanye on an electronic instrumental like this. It's vibrant, hypnotic, suspended, endearing. "Problematic" is a bit of a return to his roots, with the chipmunk soul that characterizes his early work. Very instrospective, I still regret the lack of percussion, especially when the pitched sample doesn't stop. I think "Problematic" would have benefited from being more dynamic.
To sum up, "Vulture" remains a good album, the production is logically successful (like all Kanye albums), and the featurings/samples are up to scratch. There are three negative points to remember, however, the first being that Kanye continues to show that he's on a downward slope in terms of performance, and that's to be expected after all, given that his first album is now celebrating its 20th anniversary. The second being that this album also proves that Kanye doesn't have as many innovative ideas as he used to, and we feel that he's going round in circles, drawing on his different universes. The third is that, in my opinion, it simply lacks any really great songs. Let's just say that normally in a Kanye album there are at least 3 or 4 wonders, and here I'm afraid there are hardly any. Aside from that, Ty Dolla Sign does his part, but he's never been an artist who's convinced me on a long format.
|STARS / 80
|KEYS TO MY LIFE / 70
|PAID / 75
|TALKING / 60
|BACK TO ME / 80
|HOODRAT / 70
|DO IT / 75
|PAPERWORK / 60
|BURN / 90
|FUK SUMN / 80
|CARNIVAL / 90
|BEG FORGIVENESS / 80
|GOOD (DON'T DIE) / 75
|PROBLEMATIC / 75