((JEWISH REVIEW)) — At the end of 2022, Kanye West, the billionaire rapper who now goes by Ye, seemed to be persona non grata in the entertainment industry. After months of antisemitic rants on social media and in unhinged interviews, he was dropped from a lucrative business partnership with Adidas and booted from his longtime record label.
But on Sunday, he hosted a swanky album release party as part of the prestigious Art Basel art fair in Miami, in advance of the record’s upcoming debut this Friday. The album, titled “Vultures,” was written in partnership with longtime collaborator Ty Dolla Sign, and its track listing features a who’s-who of respected rap industry names — from artists such as Lil Baby and Nicki Minaj to producers like Timbaland, who has worked with the likes of Beyonce and Justin Timberlake.
On the album’s eponymous lead single, released last month, West raps: “How I’m antisemitic? I just f—ed a Jewish bitch/I just f—ed Scooter’s bitch,” referencing Jewish music mogul Scooter Braun.
“At a time of rising antisemitism worldwide, it’s disgusting to see Kanye once again use his platform to spew Jew hatred,” the Anti-Defamation League responded.
Even though the single did not make any Billboard music charts, West’s album seems headed for a large audience on most major streaming platforms — despite having spent months in the spotlight over antisemitic comments. In October 2022, he threatened to “go death con 3” on Jewish people, a phrase that was widely interpreted to connote violence. He tweeted images of swastikas, picked fights with Jewish figures and praised Hitler in a sprawling interview with conspiracy theorist Alex Jones. He bragged that he could “say antisemitic s–t” while maintaining business ties with Adidas, and several reports came out about his longtime fascination with Nazism.
West, also a clothing designer in recent years, made headlines for his fashion choice at Sunday’s event: a black pointed hood that resembled part of the Ku Klux Klan’s uniform. He previously used the black hood imagery in the music video for his 2013 song “Black Skinhead.”
Art Basel did not respond to a request for comment on the event by press time. Last week, a group of artists began bringing large reproductions of milk cartons with the names of Israeli hostages to sites across Miami, including at Art Basel locations.
Others who feature on the “Vultures” album, according to the track listing leaked online, include Bad Bunny, the Puerto Rican rapper who is one of the most popular artists in the world; Nicki Minaj, who has sold over 100 million records; Grammy winner Lil Baby; Grammy nominee Freddie Gibbs; influential rapper Young Thug (who is currently on trial for a possible gang conspiracy); and West’s 10-year-old daughter, North West.
Also featured is Kodak Black, a rapper who reportedly became interested in Judaism while in prison in 2019 and donated $1,000 to an Orthodox synagogue.
Not all of West’s plans have panned out, including a larger album release show originally slated at a stadium in Italy that seats 100,000 people. And while West and Ty Dolla Sign say their album will come out on Friday, it is unclear what record label will release it. Billboard reported in October that West was still shopping the album around.