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Kanye West’s new album and C. Tangana’s Celta anthem: The story of a coincidence

The American rapper includes a chorus of Inter Milan ‘ultras’ in his album ‘Vultures 1,′ just as the Spanish recording artist did with Celta fans in his song ‘Oliveira Dos Cen Anos’. The two musicians also created similar crests for their respective album covers

C. Tangana, Kanye West
C. Tangana and Kanye West at their respective concerts.Getty

Artist, producer and musician Kanye West has become a meme and an object of derision for his usual controversial statements and eccentricities. That disdain is partly deserved, but it is also unfair when we consider that he is the creator of an album that is regarded as revolutionary, My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy; the founder of the multi-million-dollar brand Yeezy; and the organizer of those delirious gospel masses at his ranch in Wyoming, to give just a few examples. When asked who he believes is the best rapper of all time, actor and musician Donald Glover (Childish Gambino) replied: “Kanye. I know that’s controversial. But I feel like we would not have any of the rappers we have now without him.”

Vultures 1 is the title of his much-anticipated new album. The release was chaotic, including its removal from platforms for distribution issues, but it immediately shot to number one on Spotify, Apple Music and the Billboard chart. “We’re number one, you know? Everything they’ve done has done nothing but help us. I like it. Remove us. I like the simplification. Anyway, the platforms are shit for artists,” West declared on social media. That was the same week that he broadcasted a Super Bowl halftime ad featuring a crappy selfie video promoting the products on his website. By his own calculations, the ad initially brought in $19 million in a single day. His latest threat against the streaming giants is that when he releases Vultures 2 he may sell it exclusively through Yeezy.com.

One of the most striking features of West’s long-awaited work with singer Ty Dolla $ign is the participation of Inter Milan “ultras” shouting in two of his songs. The origin of this cameo of Italian soccer fans is a match between Milan and Genoa — curiously, Inter Milan’s rival — which Kanye attended with his son Saint. The rapper was dazzled by the atmosphere and the fans’ soccer chants. It was the same infatuation that we’ve seen from other hip-hop stars like Snoop Dogg, a self-professed fan of Real Madrid and collector of kits, and Drake, who loves Manchester United.

The thing is that it is also the main trope of urban music in Spain. C. Tangana loves soccer, specifically R.C. Celta de Vigo, his father’s hometown team. In July 2023, several months before the sporting experience at the Luigi Ferraris stadium in Genoa, Italy, that inspired West to include soccer chants on his album, the Spanish musician had already included the members of a Celta fan club doing backup vocals on Oliveira Dos Cen Anos, the anthem he composed for the Galician team on the occasion of its centennial. The images of Curva Nord Milano fans bellowing with headphones on during the recording session of Carnival’s introduction are reminiscent of Tropas de Breogán (a soccer team in Galicia, Spain) fans doing the same at the Planta Sónica studios in Vigo, Spain.

While it hasn’t reached the heights of the Macarena sensation, which even Bill Clinton danced in the 1990s (and Hillary did a month ago in Seville, Spain), there is no doubt that Celta’s new anthem has an international profile. Media like The Guardian (“the most artistically ambitious football anthem ever”) and The New York Times (one of the 10 best releases of the week) have praised it. It would be odd if Kanye West had never heard the song or it had not excited him as much as that Arizona personal trainer who uploaded a viral video to her Instagram page for her million followers to see a spinning class pedaling to the beat of “Un escudo no meu peito! Celta forever!” The hypothesis that the album El Madrileño inspired the controversial West, if only slightly and unconsciously, is nothing more than that, a hypothesis. And it is not even relevant.

And that is not because Pucho constantly points out his musical limitations, speaks openly about impostor syndrome and emphasizes that his talent is “seeing the talent of others.” In fact, in Oliveira Dos Cen Anos, he not only uses ancestral rhythms and oral tradition, but builds on it with a dream team that includes artists who were already mixing folk and electronica and Galician (Spanish) musician Baiuca.

The funny thing is that it would not be surprising for Kanye West, impulsive and self-absorbed by nature, to call out C. Tangana one day, given that the echoes of muiñeira and women beating farm tools in his Celta song copy the epic start of West’s song Power. Or for Kanye to decry the fact that the flares that C. Tangana deployed in his video by the Vigo estuary are copied from the music video (shot by Romain Gavras) for his song No Church In the Wild. For his part, Pucho, controlled and precise in his statements, seems calmer and closer to the theory of a collective consciousness in the form of a shared cloud that we all use to get ideas.

The German Bundesadler inspired Kanye West to create the crest for the release of 'Vultures 1'; the rapper has it printed on sweatshirts and T-shirts.
The German Bundesadler inspired Kanye West to create the crest for the release of 'Vultures 1'; the rapper has it printed on sweatshirts and T-shirts.
C. Tangana's crest for the RC Celta de Vigo anthem combines the team's emblem with olive branches, a symbol of the Spanish city.
C. Tangana's crest for the RC Celta de Vigo anthem combines the team's emblem with olive branches, a symbol of the Spanish city.

Tangana will probably downplay the slight resemblance of the Vultures 1 crest (which Kanye has printed on sweatshirts) and the Spanish recording artist’s own crest for the launch of the Celta anthem, which RC Celta de Vigo player Iago Aspas now has as a tattoo. Artur Galocha, the co-founder of Líbero magazine and designer of the Celta book 100 Anos de Afouteza e Corazón, sees similarities “in the choice of white on black and in the fact that they both have that classic shield shape that comes from heraldry.” He qualifies that “Kanye’s is more obvious, less elaborate, a stereotypical shield reminiscent of the German Bundesadler and just what you would expect from a Yankee who likes soccer.” The Celta emblem “is more elaborate; it’s almost an illustration, with a worn-out effect and the symbol of the city: olive branches,” explains Galocha, who is involved in creating the cover of La tribu vertical, a work by Borja Bauzá about hooligans and radical gangs.

According to music educator and rap specialist Al Sobrino, all this imagery of the hooliganism of enraged fans in the stands is “a very Kanye movement.” The head of the platform El Sonidero points out that, “in the song Off the Grid [West] mentions Lionel Messi and the ‘ultra’ phenomenon connects to his obsessions over the years.” Those include “popular fashion, the most London street culture, his connection with Europe and his now-defunct relationship with Adidas.” Sobrino adds that “[Kanye’s] bread and butter is collaborative work that brings together disparate profiles under the same roof and the incorporation of cultural moments into his work.” As an illustrative example, he cites the 2015 BRIT Awards, when West brought Britain’s Skepta on stage along with dozens of people clad in black hoodies and a pair of flamethrowers. “That’s the same kind of energy and vibe he’s pursuing now.”

Typing “Kanye West” into a search engine brings up the following headlines: Donna Summer’s children denounce Kanye West for using ‘I Feel Love’ in one of his songs; Bianca Censori, Kanye West’s wife, could go to prison for the outfit she wore at Paris fashion week; Kanye West criticizes Adidas for releasing fake Yeezys without his consent; and Kim Kardashian is fed up with Kanye West’s finger-pointing.

We hope to be able to read the following headline soon: An incognito Kanye West attends a match in Balaídos disguised as the Xacobeo mascot, singing Oliveira Dos Cen Anos with Tropas de Breogán soccer fans.

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