18 September, 2012@9:59 am
With all of the competition in the current rap space, the big dogs of hip-hop are snatching up all of the new talent fast, in order to build Wu-Tang-esque clans, crews, and cliques. It wasn’t quite like this ten or fifteen years ago, as you pretty much had the Wu and the BCC, and then everyone else trying to replicate this formula by signing their cousins and longtime homeboys (Harlem World, Terror Squad, Irv Gotti Presents The Murderererers, etc.) This quickly led to crew albums universally being seen as let downs. But in today’s age, the Lil Waynes, the Rick Rosses, and the Kanyes of the world have chosen a different strategy – building a power circle of established artists, with less weak links in the chain. Case in point is Kanye’s G.O.O.D. Music crew, which has been of quality from the jump – and most recently adding home run king Big Sean and relief pitcher 2 Chainz into the mix. This leads to a line-up of perhaps the strongest team in the game, also including Kanye himself, plus Common, Pusha T, John Legend, and Kid Cudi.
With the success of Kanye and Jay’s “N***as In Paris”, the direction taken on Cruel Summer is almost all trap-inspired club knockers, making this the first album of Kanye’s that’s gone in a decidedly more commercial direction. Let’s back that last statement up with a bit of a disclaimer, however. Kanye, being the trailblazer that he is, lends his own direction to this style of music – the lyrics raw, the vibe dark, the style unique; this isn’t your cookie-cutter rap shit.
That being said, the album produces a handful of “Monster”-esque posse cuts; that is, unpredictable line-ups over brooding production. We’ve heard most of this on the blog circuit already – such as the latest addition “Clique” (feat. Big Sean and Jay-Z), the already classic “Mercy”, the unfortunate Chief Keef endorsement “Don’t Like (Remix)”, Kanye’s mixtape cut “Way Too Cold”, and an extended version of “New God Flow” where Ghostface kills. These are the album’s strongest moments, which leads to a lot of the rest of the project to be a bit of a let down, save “The Morning” with Raekwon, Pusha T, Common, 2 Chainz, CyHi, and Kid Cudi.
Much of the rest of the album is uneven and seemingly randomly strung together. “Higher” over does it with high-fructose corn syrupy autotune, despite an impressive comeback verse from Ma$e, while questionable hooks from R. Kelly (“To The World”) and Marsha Ambrosius (“The One”) seem out of place with the rest of the album’s sinister tone. Meanwhile, the random Kid Cudi cut “Creepers” and the tacked on John Legend/Teyana Taylor collabo “Bliss”, feel largely out of place here.
Kanye’s standard will forever be measured up against My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, and as badly as Cruel Summer *wants* to be an album, it still comes off as an uneven compilation record. Sure, managing this many personalities at once probably was a challenge, but with this many characters in the fold, expectations were much higher. By and large, Cruel Summer‘s most satisfying moments we’ve already heard, we just wish there was an equal amount of heat saved for game day.
Leave a Reply
- Raekwon Sets A Release Date For “F.I.L.A.” Album
- BUSH: A Snoop Odyssey Produced By Pharrell Williams [Preview]
- Drake – “If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late” Surprise Album on iTunes Now
- Action Bronson “Mr. Wonderful” Cover Art and Tracklist
- Juicy J “Blue Dream & Lean 2″ Mixtape Cover Art & Release Date Revealed
- MF Grimm “MF Love Songs” Cover Art + Tracklist
- Lord Hakim – “Brass Knucklez” (feat. Vast Aire & Phizz Ed)
- IAMSU! – “Hella Good” (feat. Tyga)
- DJ Kay Slay – “I Declare War” (feat. Styles P, Sheek Louch, Vado, Raekwon, & Rell)
- Maverick Sabre – “We Don’t Wanna Be” (feat. Joey Bada$$)
- Cannibal Ox – “Blade: Art of Ox” (feat. Artifacts & U-God; prod. Black Milk)
- Asher Roth – “Blow Your Head” (prod. Nottz)