‘Vultures’ charts at No. 1 on Billboard despite Ye’s antisemitic rants

Ye’s latest album, “Vultures 1,” topped the Billboard 200 chart this week, suggesting the rapper has retained much of his popularity despite a string of antisemitic and other hateful remarks that alienated him from corporate partners and many fellow celebrities.

Ye’s latest success marks his 11th time leading the chart. “Vultures 1” earned the equivalent of 148,000 in sales, which is measured by a mix of album sales, song downloads and streams, according to Luminate. Most of the listens came from streaming, with nearly 170 million official streams.

The high ranking also comes despite accusations that the album — Ye’s first since his tirades against Jews in late 2022 — uses unauthorized samples from other artists, among other problems leading up to and following its Feb. 10 drop.

The rapper formerly known as Kanye West initially announced that the album would come out in December, but its release was postponed multiple times amid reports that Ye was having trouble getting permission to sample a Backstreet Boys song and use a Nicki Minaj verse for two tracks that ultimately never made it onto the official 16-track album.

More challenges arose after Ye and his collaborator, Ty Dolla $ign, under the name ¥$ previewed “Vultures” at listening parties in Chicago and New York ahead of its release.

Ozzy Osbourne wrote on social media that he had refused Ye permission to sample a 1983 live performance of “Iron Man” — “BECAUSE HE IS AN ANTISEMITE AND HAS CAUSED UNTOLD HEARTACHE TO MANY.”

“HE WENT AHEAD AND USED THE SAMPLE ANYWAY AT HIS ALBUM LISTENING PARTY LAST NIGHT,” Osbourne continued. “I WANT NO ASSOCIATION WITH THIS MAN!”

Then Spotify removed one of the new album’s tracks, “Good (Don’t Die),” after Donna Summer’s estate accused Ye of copyright infringement for re-creating part of her disco hit “I Feel Love” after being denied permission.

And the entire album briefly disappeared from Apple Music on Thursday, amid attempts by a music distributor to have it removed from streaming platforms.

Fuga, which was originally approached to distribute “Vultures 1,” said in a statement that it had declined to do so late last year, “exercising our judgment in the ordinary course of business.” The company said “a long-standing … client” brought the album to streaming platforms anyway in violation of Fuga’s service agreement. “Therefore, FUGA is actively working with its … partners and the client to remove ‘Vultures 1’ from our systems.” Fuga didn’t respond to a request for comment.

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By the end of the day Thursday, several news outlets reported that Label Engine, which originally released the album’s first two singles, was now in charge of distributing the album.

Despite the flubs in the album’s release, listeners still streamed “Vultures.” It overshadowed Usher’s No. 2 ranking with his latest album “Coming Home,” released just before his Super Bowl halftime performance. Earning the equivalent of 91,000 in sales, Usher’s ninth studio album garnered him his highest placement on the album chart in more than a decade.

Ye’s business partners and many of his former fans turned against him when the Grammy-winning artist abruptly spiraled into public antisemitism.

Companies such as Balenciaga, the Creative Artists Agency and JPMorgan Chase severed ties after Ye wore a “White Lives Matter” T-shirt to his Paris Fashion Week show in 2022 and posted on social media that he would go “death con 3” on “JEWISH PEOPLE.” His net worth plunged after he was dropped from his partnership with Adidas — home of his Yeezy shoe line that accounted for nearly 10 percent of the German sportswear brand’s annual revenue.

Ye apologized for his antisemitic comments last December in a now-deleted Instagram post written in Hebrew.

“I sincerely apologize to the Jewish community for any ‘unintended outburst.’ It was not my intention to hurt or demean, and I deeply regret any pain I may have caused,” the post said. “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.”

When Ye was asked about the same remarks in a recent TMZ interview, he replied, “Black people can’t be antisemitic. We are Jew.” He also said he “survived through the cancellation” thanks to his skills and fan base, and he dismissed concerns about his work being removed from streaming platforms because of how little they pay artists.

“Vultures” was also less apologetic. In the title track, Ye asks how he can be antisemitic if he’s had sex with a Jewish woman, and he mentions in his song “Stars” that he keeps “a few Jews on the staff now.”

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