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From the Bianca Censori Venice boat scandal to Taylor Swift: Breaking down Kanye West’s Vultures album lyrics

Taylor Swift, Elon Musk, R Kelly, and Bill Cosby are all namechecked on the latest album from music’s most controversial figure, Kanye West.

The disgraced artist, who has caused uproar with a series of antisemitic outbursts in recent years, released his delayed new project Vultures, a collaboration with fellow rapper TY Dolla $ign, over the weekend.

Uncredited guest appearances come from Chris Brown and rappers including Travis Scott, Quavo, Playboi Carti, Rich the Kid, and Quavo. Timbaland and British electronic artist James Blake are among the record’s lengthy list of producers.

Here’s a breakdown of the album’s most prominent lyrical references to West’s tumultuous life, from his feud with pop superstar Swift to the notorious scandal involving a Venice boat and West’s wife, Bianca Censori.

Taylor Swift

Swift is mentioned on the album’s 12th track, “Carnival”.

West raps: “Why she say she sucked my d***?/ Then she say she ain’t sucked my d*** / She gon’ take it up the ass, like a ventriloquist / I mean since Taylor Swift/ since I had the Rollie on the wrist / I’m the new Jesus, b****, I turn water to Cris’.”

On the same track, he asks: “Elon where my rocket ship?/ It’s time to go home.”

Kanye West has released his new album ‘Vultures' (AFP via Getty Images)
Kanye West has released his new album ‘Vultures' (AFP via Getty Images)

He compares himself to R&B singer R Kelly and former comedian and TV personality Bill Cosby, both of whom have been convicted of sexual assault, along with P Diddy (real name Sean Combs) who was accused of sexual assault in multiple lawsuits last year. Combs denied the allegations.

Taylor Swift at the 2024 Super Bowl (Copyright 2024 The Associated Press. All rights reserved)
Taylor Swift at the 2024 Super Bowl (Copyright 2024 The Associated Press. All rights reserved)

“Now I’m Ye Kelly, b**** (Ha), now, I’m Bill Cosby, b**** (Ha) / Now, I’m Puff Daddy rich (Ha), that’s MeToo me rich,” West raps.

West and Swift seemed to temporarily mend the rift created after the rapper infamously crashed the pop star’s 2009 Video Music Awards acceptance speech to say that Beyoncé “had one of the best videos of all time”.

The pair were photographed together at the Grammy Awards in 2015, and Swift even joked about being West’s running mate when he said he was going to run for president.

West and Swift at the 2015 Grammy awards (Larry Busacca/Getty Images for NARAS)
West and Swift at the 2015 Grammy awards (Larry Busacca/Getty Images for NARAS)

In 2016, however, another feud between the pair erupted when West released his single “Famous”, which included the lyrics: “I feel like me and Taylor might still have sex/ Why? I made that b**** famous.”

After Swift denied that she had consented to West’s line, his then-wife Kim Kardashian leaked a recording of a phone call where the singer appeared to approve the lyric. The full conversation – which was released in 2020 – showed that she did not.

Venice boat scandal

Kanye West and Bianca Censori (Photo by Rachpoot/Bauer-Griffin/GC Images)
Kanye West and Bianca Censori (Photo by Rachpoot/Bauer-Griffin/GC Images)

On the 10th track, “Fuk Sumn”, West appears to allude to a scandal last year in which he and his wife, Bianca Censori, were reportedly banned from a Venice boat company after allegedly participating in a lewd act while on board one of its vessels.

West was photographed with Australian architectural designer Censori, 28, while enjoying a boat ride in Venice at the end of August 2023. Paparazzi photos showed West with his trousers down and rear end exposed, while Censori appeared to be crouching between his legs.

After the images went viral on social media, the boat company shared a statement declaring that the couple were no longer welcome on future trips.

Antisemitism row

 (Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

On the closing song, “King”, West backtracks on the apology he offered for his antisemitism in December, and instead declares that he’s “still the king” despite all of his controversies.

“Crazy, bipolar, antisemite,” he raps, per lyrics website Genius. “And I’m still the king/ Still the king/ Still/ They thought headlines was my kryptonite/ Still the king.”

Meanwhile, he makes light of the antisemitism row on title track “Vultures”, released as the album’s lead single last year, rapping: “I ain’t antisemitic, I just f***ed a Jewish b****.”

In 2022, West made a series of remarks, including a tweet that said he was “going death con 3 On JEWISH PEOPLE … You guys have toyed with me and tried to black ball anyone whoever opposes your agenda”.

In a later appearance on Infowards, a show hosted by right-wing conspiracy theorist Alex Jones, West said he “likes Hitler” and insisted: “We’ve got to stop dissing the Nazis all the time.”

Sports and leisurewear brand Adidas cut ties with West after his comments, which wiped his billionaire status overnight.

In a statement at the time, Adidas branded the remarks “unacceptable, hateful and dangerous”, adding that they “violate the company’s values of diversity and inclusion, mutual respect and fairness”.

West has drawn the ire of rocker Ozzy Osbourne over Vultures, after allegedly sampling Black Sabbath’s song “War Pigs” without permission.

Ozzy Osbourne called out Kanye West for sampling one of his band’s songs without permission (Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved)
Ozzy Osbourne called out Kanye West for sampling one of his band’s songs without permission (Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved)

Osbourne claimed last week that West had been denied permission to sample the track due to his antisemitic statements. “He is an antisemite and has caused untold hurt to many,” the musician wrote, adding: “I want no association with this man!”

A Black Sabbath sample is still featured on the album, but it is a sample of the band’s 1970 song “Iron Man”, which is used on “Carnival”.

Kim Kardashian

Kim Kardashian and Kanye West divorced in 2022 (Getty Images)
Kim Kardashian and Kanye West divorced in 2022 (Getty Images)

On “Back to Me”, West samples a moment from Kevin Smith’s 1999 film Dogma in which actor Jason Mewes declares: “I fell in love with you – we fell in love with you! Guys like us don’t just fall out of the f***ing sky, you know?”

The rapper later sings another quote from the same movie as a refrain: “Beautiful big-tittied butt-naked women don’t just fall out the sky y’know.”

The lyric is possibly a reference to West’s ex, Kim Kardashian, whom he also famously referenced while ad-libbing on his 2010 hit “Runaway”, on which he added the closing lines: “I need you to run right back, baby/ More specifically, Kimberly.”

West and Kardashian’s divorce was finalised in November 2022. They share four children together: North, Saint, Chicago and Psalm.

His last major release was his 2021 album Donda, itself a controversial project that included an appearance by Marilyn Manson, just weeks after the rock musician was accused of sexual and physical abuse by multiple women.