On Feb. 10, the highly controversial rapper and producer Kanye West released his first album in three years, “Vultures 1”, to high acclaim. There’s a lot to love about this album, from the stellar production to the incredible verses from Kanye, Ty Dolla Sign, Freddie Gibbs and others.

Kanye released some of his most flamboyantly powerful songs of his career, like “VULTURES,” “CARNIVAL,” “DO IT,” “BURN” and “GOOD (DON’T DIE)”. The melodies on the album are some of Kanye’s best since his 2008 classic 808’s and Heartbreak, and some of the stronger tracks are reminiscent of Kanye’s prime from the 2000s and 2010’s. The production is explosive and atmospheric, with beats that rattle bass systems and are entirely unlike anything Kanye has ever released. 

“HOODRAT” and “BACK TO ME” have some of the best beats on the album, their unique composition and sound stand out amongst the rest of the album. Kanye also returns to his roots with some very inventive samples, with “TALKING” sampling a viral video of a woman yelling at a cheerleading event. That same song features North West, Kanye’s daughter, which is a clever and funny break from the rest of the album.

However, as good as the album is, it is not without flaws. There are a few tracks, “BEG FORGIVENESS” and “PAPERWORK” in particular which were very repetitive and failed to stand out from the rest of the album. The nearly hour-long project remained very consistent, but had these songs been removed, the album would have been much better. 

Beyond this, the biggest issue with the project is Kanye’s own presence, which is extremely underwhelming on several tracks. Kanye delivers several lackluster verses with weak flows and laughable lyricism, substituting his once clever wordplay with lame shock value bars. Songs like “PROBLEMATIC” and “BACK TO ME” are some especially tragic examples of this, where every other artist on the song outdoes Kanye in every possible way.

It’s impossible to properly review the album without taking note of the controversy that surrounds its release, though. Kanye’s far-right spiral has been going on for years, culminating in recent months with Kanye’s antisemitic speech and open endorsement of Hitler and Nazism. 

These controversies do not go undiscussed on the album, such as Kanye’s line on “VULTURES”: “How can I be antisemitic, I just ****ed a Jewish b****”?” Kanye’s inflammatory language doesn’t end here, making several references to the 1999 Columbine shooting, saying “this ain’t Columbine but we coming with the trenches”. This vile language makes multiple songs very difficult to listen to and is a massive drawback to the album’s quality.

As flawed as it may be, I think the album’s strength’s greatly outnumber its flaws, and despite a lackluster performance from its main artist, the rest of the collaborators were able to create a cohesive and consistent album that is very fun to listen to.