On Monday night (Feb. 5), Kanye West and Ty Dolla $ign shared a vague post on social media that hinted at a listening event in Chicago for Vultures, the artists’ first joint project as hip-hop duo ¥$. “Vultures United Center Chicago 02 08 24,” the post read without any additional details.
It was at first met with skepticism, given that the United Center did not have the event listed on their schedule and the multiple times the album’s release date has shifted. But once it was listed on the venue’s website first thing the following day — with tickets going on sale at 3 p.m. local time — fans were eager to get their hands on a golden ticket. Before 6 p.m., the album release party, dubbed Vultures Listening Experience, had officially sold out.
Anticipation was high among fans, excited for an early listen of the long-awaited album, which was initially supposed to be released Dec. 15 and was then moved to Dec. 31, then Jan. 12. While it was expected to drop midnight Friday (Feb. 2), as of press time, the album has yet to drop.
Around 7 p.m., fans — mainly young teens who opted for oversized, dark-hued hoodies or a puffer, cargo pants and their favorite sneakers — crowded around the United Center just as rain and thunderstorms cleared. Before doors opened, Billboard spoke to a trio of friends who drove to Chicago from Virginia. Mauricio, the group’s de facto spokesperson, had a one-word response when asked what his expectations were for this event. “Visuals,” he said categorically. “This guy (Kanye) is really about portraying an image and aesthetic and vibe. The music is just kinda the background.”
Next to Mauricio and his buddies was Sterling from New Hampshire. “As soon as the event went on sale on Tuesday, I was able to buy a $235 ticket but it was a battle with Ticketmaster because the site would go down,” he explained. “My jaw would hit the floor but I eventually got in. Then, I bought a Greyhound ticket, took the bus, booked a hotel and spent almost $1,000. I’ve been waiting to see Kanye for 10 years. I’m just happy to be in the same building as him.”
A little past 8 p.m. gates finally opened and people were allowed inside the venue where official merchandise — black tees and white sweatpants and shorts stamped with a Vultures logo — was sold. Once you made your way inside, you were hit with a foggy view of the barely visible stage erected from an open space surrounded by white flags with the Vultures logo.
Chance the Rapper was in attendance and made a grand entry with an entourage in tow waving at the fans who recognized the hometown hero. Once settled in, he, like everyone else there, patiently waited for the listening session to begin. And it did around 10:10p.m., an hour after it was scheduled to start.
The crowd roared at the sight of Ye and Ty who walked up on the stage. Some of the songs that played throughout the night included “Burn,” “Paperwork,” “Everybody,” “Carnival,” “Vultures,” “Hoodrat,” “Paid” and “Talking/Once Again,” which featured a special performance by North West. Undoubtedly, the 10-year-old’s appearance onstage was one of the best moments of the night with the entire venue cheering her on as she rapped alongside her superstar father.
While the 12 songs that were played throughout the listening session were met with rave and approval by fans who nodded along to every beat, they were in disbelief when the music ended and lights at the venue went on signaling that the show had ended. As if on cue, the confused crowd checked their phones once the event was over. To their surprise (or perhaps not), the album hadn’t been released.
Ye and Ty are expected to host another listening event today in New York’s UBS Arena. Below, a list of the takeaways from Chicago’s Vultures Listening Experience event:
A Nod to Chicago
Honoring the music of Chicagoan rappers, local DJ Pharris made sure to remind everyone that they were in Ye’s hometown. Songs by Juice WRLD, Chief Keef, Lil Durk and of course, Chicago’s very own Kanye West, were played to hype up the crowd. “Where are the day one fans?” the DJ asked. He went on to play songs from Ye’s The College Dropout, which is celebrating its 20-year anniversary.
First things first. Both Kanye and Ty served some serious looks that matched the aesthetic of the pair’s haunting “Vultures” music video released on Thursday (Feb. 8). Ye wore a black leather bomber jacket, with the a 1 written on the back, leather pants, and a white hockey mask à la Jason Vorhees. Meanwhile, Ty wore what looked like a long black trench coat that was loose enough to let him dance around the stage, which he did often together with Ye and, at times, separately making sure they worked every corner of the stage.
“It’s Your Bestie”
As soon as North West hit the stage for “Talking/Once Again,” she stole the spotlight. “Chicago make some noise for Miss West,” Ty ordered as she confidently walked up dressed in an oversized outfit and wearing what looked like a furry dark trapper hat. Instantly, the crowd began to cheer witnessing a sweet moment between North and Ye, who welcomed his daughter with a big hug. She stayed on as “Everybody” played dancing and jumping around the stage with the duo.
The Special Guests
Those who purchased a ticket didn’t really know what to expect from the event, much less if any of the collaborators featured on the album would take the stage with Ye and Ty. Only a handful of special guests showed up, including North West for “Talking/Once Again,” YG for “Do It” and Bump J for “Vultures.”
When the lights started going back up around 11p.m., people were hesitant to leave the venue. Some stuck around for a few minutes but were ultimately ushered out. Meaning, the listening session was over lasting approximately an hour. Joaquin, a Chicago native who’s a longtime Kanye fan and also attended the Donda listening party back in 2021, was taken aback after it was abruptly ended. “I wish it didn’t end like that but I think it’s because of venue restrictions but who knows. Overall, it was a good show and I was pleased. I just wish the album was out.”