Last month, Kanye West began teasing his upcoming album Vultures, the artist’s first release since a string of controversies in which the Grammy-winning musician aligned himself with far-right ideologues and was booted from Twitter (now called X) after declaring that he intended to go “death con 3 ON JEWISH PEOPLE.”
Kanye spent much of 2023 out of the public eye, reportedly recording the album in various locations alongside collaborator Ty Dolla $ign. In addition to Ty, Vultures reportedly includes features from Lil Baby, Bad Bunny, Nicki Minaj, James Blake, Kodak Black, and Freddie Gibbs. The album also has a verse from Ye’s daughter North West.
Ye premiered the album at a party in Miami during Art Basel in December; he also launched a mobile-only platform called “Yews,” a portmanteau of Yeezy and News, which he reportedly applied to have trademarked in October.
In 2022, Rolling Stone reported that sources close to West recalled him speaking favorably about Hitler during the making of his 2004 debut album, The College Dropout. Last December, Ye appeared on Alex Jones’ show for a more than three-hour-long interview during which he praised Nazis and Hitler. “I see good things about Hitler,” West said. He also falsely credited the Nazi dictator with inventing highways and microphones.
Ye used his newly launched “Yews” platform to announce that disgraced fashion designer Gosha Rubchinsky had been named the creative director of Kanye’s fashion brand Yeezy. In 2018, screenshots of Rubchinsky appearing to ask a 16-year-old boy for illicit photos via Instagram DMs surfaced online. Rubchinsky released a statement at the time saying the screenshots had been “altered and taken out of context.”
Ye appears to flippantly address the accusations of antisemitism on his new album. On the title track, featuring Lil Durk and Bump J, he raps, “How I’m antisemitic? I just fucked a Jewish bitch.” He’s since apologized for his remarks about the Jewish community. “It was not my intention to offend or demean, and I deeply regret any pain I may have caused,” Ye said in a December Instagram post written in Hebrew. “I am committed to starting with myself and learning from this experience to ensure greater sensitivity and understanding in the future. Your forgiveness is important to me, and I am committed to making amends and promoting unity.”
After months of teasers and false-starts, it’s still unclear when, if at all Vultures will be released. Here’s everything we know so far.
Controversial Cover Art
The Vultures album cover shared by Kanye features art from the German Romantic landscape painter Caspar David Friedrich, whose work was embraced by Nazis in the twentieth century. Additionally, the cover’s typography appears to reference the Norwegian Black Metal project Burzum, helmed by convicted murderer and notorious Nazi sympathizer Varg Vikernes.
During Kanye’s listening event at Art Basel, North West made an appearance on a track reportedly titled “It’s Your Bestie, Ms. Westie.” The track arrived as North’s star power continues to rise, thanks to her often viral appearances on Keeping Up With the Kardashians. (On the show, she often teases her mother, Kim Kardashian, whose split with Kanye in 2022 inspired a torrent of tirades and thinly veiled song lyrics from Ye.)
Ahead of the first official release date for Vultures, Kanye appeared to have patched things up with longtime collaborator Kid Cudi, who has famously fallen out with West more than once — most recently in 2022, during the artist’s multiple public attacks on various members of the music industry and Hollywood, including Cudi. At that time, Cudi told Billboard that Kanye was “fucking with my mental health,” and that he needed to “own up to your s–t like every man in this life has.” At the Vultures event, the two embraced one another and played an unreleased collaboration.
Ahead of the same event, Kanye tweeted that he was still working on getting last-minute clearances to use a verse from Nicki Minaj on a previously unreleased track called “New Body.” Ye tweeted a screenshot of a text thread between him and Nicki in which he asks “May I call you about clearing new body on the new album.” Nicki Minaj went on Instagram Live later that evening and respectfully declined. “Now regarding Kanye, that train has left the station,” she said. “No disrespect in any way, I just put out a brand new album. Why would I put out a song that’s been out for 3 years? Come on guys.”
Just ahead of Christmas, a representative for Kanye and Ty Dolla $ign told Revolt that the album would be released on Jan. 12, 2024. Fans have speculated that the delays were caused by clearance issues for verses like the one from Nicki Minaj, which was reportedly several years old, as well as over an interpolation of the Backstreet Boys single “Everybody,” which appears on a song that Ye has been previewing on social media. As the Jan. 12 release date neared, a rep for the two artists confirmed to Forbes that it had again been pushed back; at this time Vultures has no official release date.