You know what’s cruel? Hyping an album all summer long and then not dropping it until fall hits. This might be the first release from G.O.O.D. since they’ve became a full-fledged subsidiary of Def Jam, but Yeezy’s label sure has mastered the art of hype already. With regards to that hype, should we heed the advice of a certain group of groundbreaking Def Jam forbears or will the coming fall turn unseasonably heated? The Brain Trust assembles to find an answer.
Kanye’s ego is to hip-hop what Godzilla is to Japan, it runs rampant, knocking over well established and often even beloved landmarks and has as little regard for his opponents as he has for the feeble weapons they might aim at him. We lambast him, bemoan his disregard for conventions, his peers and the destruction he leaves in his wake but as an audience we are entertained by the ensuing chaos and the new ground it provides. And like Godzilla is an icon of Japanese pop culture, so has the (in)famous Kanye West become a ubiquitous exponent of his culture all over the globe. Which leads me to Cruel Summer‘s Achilles heel: Kanye’s presence looms so large over the compilation that whenever he is absent from the incessant victory lap that the album sounds like, it immediately falls flat. A hungry Pusha T manages to sucesfully carve out his own niche in the G.O.O.D. Music landscape and Hit-Boy’s beat on Clique is an anthemic headnodder like few others this summer, but most of the moments without Yeezy sound like the musical equivalent of Godzuki, failing to blast their own mouthlasers without sounding like a lesser derivative of the main attraction.
I normally judge an album by how many songs I skip over..and the way that most of them are nowadays, I typically end up liking only HALF an album. So, imagine my surprise to find out that the G.O.O.D. Music cd was not like that. Now yes, the general public has heard four out of the twelve songs off of the album already, but I think those songs served as a great appetizer to an amazing main course, which is Cruel Summer. It enveloped me..I haven’t listened to anything else since it leaked – this cd makes you want to stunt, to strive for more, to reflect, and to want to be in love like Shakespeare would’ve written about. Add on the fact that Ghostface & Raekwon are featured (hey, I’m a Wu fan..) and the fact that I only skip over one song (because I can’t stand Kid Cudi) and you have a winner in my book. I’ll be playing this album for years to come, because I think I haven’t even scratched the surface of how incredibly amazing it is.
Some people will love it because Kanye’s name was attached to it. I think Cruel Summer was mostly garbage. Everything that leaked was bad. Don’t blame Hit Boy and Travis Scott on the beats though. They kept it aloft. The later tracks were bright spots even though Teyana Taylor doesn’t have that strong of a voice. Perhaps those tracks were just THAT much better than the leaks… or maybe Kanye just didn’t care enough about this album. Overhyped. A buncha lame verses. John Legend, Travis Scott, Teyana Taylor, and Hit-Boy helped make it better though.
It’s not a classic. It’s not trash. The tracks that came out ahead of the full album are the strongest, with “New God Flow” getting a shot of HGH in the form of a verse from Ghostface Killah. I wouldn’t mind hearing an album’s worth of Ghost rhymes over Kanye beats…you know, like The Blueprint was supposed to be? I digress…
I wouldn’t mind if there were less appearances from 2 Chainz and Kid Cudi and more verses from the likes of Rae, Ghost, Pusha and Jay (why on earth didn’t Kanye put those four on a track together?) but it is what it is.
Overall, Cruel Summer is ok. By the time winter rolls around, I will have forgotten about this compilation. Whether the album is good or not is irrelevant at this point; Kanye has reached the level to where he could sell an album filled with him giggling for an hour and kids all over would love it. Good job building the G.O.O.D. brand.