Kanye West + G.O.O.D. Music, ‘Cruel Summer’ – Album Review
After numerous delays, Kanye West's highly-anticipated G.O.O.D. Music compilation 'Cruel Summer' is finally here. On second thought, with just days away before the summer season being over, you could call this album 'Cruel Autumn' -- but we digress. The fact that we have some new music from Yeezy and the gang is joyous enough.
G.O.O.D. Music's 'Cruel Summer' is an introductory of sorts for his formidable crew -- Big Sean, Teyana Taylor, Kid Cudi, CyHi da Prynce, D’banj, Common, Q-Tip, John Legend and (affiliated member) 2 Chainz. The collection also boasts guest appearances from R. Kelly, Jay-Z, Ma$e, The-Dream, Marsha Ambrosius and Wu-Tang Clan alums Ghosface Killah and Raekwon the Chef.
Kanye is still the master of bringing unique sounds and samples to hip-hop's musical soundscape. On 'Cruel Summer,' he co-produces a handful of head-nodding beats with Hit-Boy, Pop & Oak, Lifted, IllMind, Mannie Fresh, Young Chop and others. Standout tracks on the album include 'To the World,' 'The One,' 'Higher, 'Bliss' and 'I Don't Like' (Remix).
The only downside is that five of the 12 tracks on 'Cruel Summer' have been already released ('Mercy,' 'Cold,' 'New God Flow' and 'Clique' all have graced the Billboard Singles chart). While the newer songs are indeed good, they are not great. Simply put, there album lacks that "Wow" factor.
But that's not to say 'Cruel Summer' isn’t an enjoyable listen. It's starts off grandiose and loses steam near the latter half of the album. Overall, 'Cruel Summer' is dope, but we'd suggest you go to iTunes and pick out your favorite rewindable tracks.
1. 'To The World' (Feat. Kanye West and R. Kelly)
Kanye West kicks the album off with a triumphant song that will make the most-depressed person in the world break out of their slumber and put their middle fingers up in the air. Over marching drums, plucking violins and a charging piano, R. Kelly's yearning vocals is the big stand out here. Oh, and it includes Kanye's political shout-out of the year: "Mitt Romney don’t pay no tax! Mitt Romney don’t pay no tax!" [Listen Here]
2. 'Clique' (Feat. Big Sean, Kanye West and Jay-Z)
Produced by Hit-Boy, this is another infectious track that features an incredible verse from Hova. "Yeah, I'm talking 'Ye / Yeah, I'm talking Rih / Yeah, I'm talking B / Nigga, I'm talking me / Yeah, I'm talking bossy, I ain't talking Kelis / Your money too short, you can't be talking to me," he spits. Big Sean is right, no one is f---ing with this clique. [Listen Here]
3. 'Mercy' (Feat. Big Sean, Pusha T, Kanye West and 2 Chainz)
Everyone should be familiar with this song so there's nothing much to say about it. Undoubtedly, 'Mercy' is one of the hottest songs of the summer along with the equally impressive video. Serve. [Watch the 'Mercy' Video]
4. 'New God Flow' (Feat. Pusha T, Kanye West and Ghostface Killah)
Another previously released track, but this one features a guest verse from Ghostface Killah, which, ironically, the song samples his 2000 track 'Mighty Healthy.' It's a mean track with a menacing piano groove and sampled breakbeat. Pusha T had the standout verse on the original, but Ghostface bodies this song at the end. Call the police, this is a murder rap. [Listen Here]
5. 'The Morning' (Feat. Raekwon, Common, Pusha T, 2 Chainz, CyHi da Prynce, Kid Cudi, Kanye West and D’banj)
Over a minimalist, computer-blipping beat, the posse track features Raekwon detailing a picturesque drug tale, while Com, Pusha, Deuce, CyHi, and Yeezy spit gritty one-liners of black excellence. It's a big standout on the album with Kanye providing the best verses on the track. "I treat the label like money from my shows / G.O.O.D. would’ve been G.O.D. except I added more o's," he raps. [Listen Here]
6. 'Cold' (Feat. Kanye West and DJ Khaled)
The infamous track in which Kanye professed his love for Kim Kardashian and threw Kris Humphries under the bus. There's some extras on the track (sound effects, echoes, screams) and DJ Pharris shouting out Chicago street blocks. [Watch the Video]
7. 'Higher' (Featuring Pusha T, The-Dream, Ma$e and Cocaine 80s)
Produced by Hit-Boy, this haunting song features a surprise appearance from former Bad Boy rapper Ma$e. Although he's been absent from the rap game for a couple of years, his monotone flow is still intact. "Uh, one-two one-two guess who back again / Harlem in this -- what? Yeezy let Manhattan in," he spits, adding, "I'm like a drug overlord, my jewelry's overboard / It's hard to believe dollar-sign E even know the Lord." It looks like Ma$e is making a comeback ...again? [Listen Here]
8. 'Sin City' (Feat. John Legend, Teyana Taylor, CyHi The Prynce, Malik Yusef and Travi$ Scott)
This is where the album takes a detour. This is not our favorite song, as it sounds like a throwaway track from Kanye's '808s & Heartbreak' album. It's a cautionary tale about the dangers of engaging in the street life. "Sex, drugs, and playin' dices, those are our favorite vices," raps CyHi. "But this life will take a toll on ya / Well I guess you gotta pay the prices." We are not going to gamble on this -- skip. [Listen Here]
9. 'The One' (Feat. Kanye West, Big Sean, 2 Chainz, Marsha Ambrosius and Cocaine 80s)
A standout on the album -- Kanye, Big Sean and 2 Chainz rap celebratory rhymes about being rich and mindful of the "snakes in the grass." Yeezy has the best verse on the song: "I'm the one, baby / Yeah, I'm the one, baby / Since God gave his only begotten son, baby / It's hard preachin' the gospel to the slums lately / So I had to put the church on the drums, baby." [Listen Here]
10. 'Creepers' (Feat. Kid Cudi)
This dark song is tailor-made for Kid Cudi, as he is the only one who could deliver lyrics bemoaning about depression, drugs and paranoia. A creepy song, indeed. [Listen Here]
11. 'Bliss' (Feat. John Legend & Teyana Taylor)
The only R&B-flavored tune on the album. It's an empowering song about overcoming obstacles to achieve your dreams. Legend and Teyana sound great together. Hopefully, we will hear more soulful duets from these two artists. [Listen Here]
12. 'Don't Like (Remix)' (Feat. Pusha T, Kanye West, Big Sean, Chief Keef and Jadakiss)
The album ends with a "bang-bang" -- a remix of Chicago spitfire Chief Keef's 'I Don't Like.' The sextet of rappers each offer a laundry list of things that they don't including, two-faced n---as, copycats, snitches, clingy b----es and fake Gucci. "They ain't about that life, they ain't about that life / We hanging out that window it's about to be a Suge night," raps Kanye. [Listen Here]