Where the New Ye Meets the Old Kanye

The old Kanye, the new Kanye. Kanye then, Kanye now. Few, if any, popular musicians have made as much hay from the tension between their prior selves and their current one. And no famous person perpetually sheds old fans and acquires new ones quite like Kanye West, now known as Ye.

He is forever testing loyalty, which is a polite way of saying that he often leans into odiousness, never more so than in the last 16 months, which have been peppered with bursts of antisemitic remarks and revelations about similar past behavior.

For a while, these latest provocations seemed to do what few of his past outbursts have done: remove him from the center of the conversation.

And yet, “Vultures 1,” his new album, opened at No. 1 on the Billboard album chart, and most of the past two weeks have been heavy with Ye news — about his earning a self-reported $19 million in a day from selling items from his clothing line for just $20, about the predictably chaotic release of the album, including ticketed listening sessions in arenas and pushback from artists who were sampled without approval.

Hundreds of thousands of fans, or millions, have boarded the train — in part because public opinion can be elastic, but also because even in this era of Ye, glimmers of an older Kanye remain.

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