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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.

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14 Responses to "Kanye West Presents G.O.O.D. Music “Cruel Summer” – @@@1/2 (Review)"
  • Nick says:

    Listening to it all the way through now. As always, the review was firm but fair… and, as per usual, the comments section is a biased, uninformed mess. How are you gonna ridicule and dismiss something you haven’t even listened to yet? We all have our personal preferences, but listen to something before you give your two cents on it.

    As for the album, I’m not going to speak on it until I have time to really reflect on it. I, like many others, was critical of Watch the Throne when I first heard it. But as time passed and I had a chance to “digest” what I was hearing, I appreciated it for what it was. What is apparent from early listening is that this is another VERY well produced album from Kanye West. As with WTT, he doesn’t produce everything, but his influence is clear, and musically, this is well done. Lyrically, it’s not Illmatic, Reasonable Doubt, It Takes a Nation or Boogie Down Productions… but it isn’t meant to be. It’s just fun music to bob your head to. That’s not saying there isn’t skill displayed; everyone (even 2 Chainz, whose shit I don’t like) has their moments, and it is an enjoyable listen.

    Every album isn’t going to stop the Earth from moving. Every verse doesn’t need to be deeply introspective or utterly profound. Sometimes you just want something to knock in the whip or listen to on your iPod and trip on the one-liners. Cruel Summer is that.

  • The man the myth says:

    Sorry Nick, I like hip hop, this ain’t hip hop. I’m not a girl, so this music has no appeal to me. Kanye is so overrated it’s laughable. Sure I am biased, I am biased against wack shit. Common is past his prime, Ghostface is still sick, but other than that, these GOOD music mc’s are just meh. They bring nothing new to the table. I downloaded an advance, and one listen was all I need to know that this is something that I would never, as a self respecting man and hip hop fan, listen to and like. Thank god for the internet, I used to waste so much money in the early to mid 90′s on music that it was ridiculous. With the ability to download and sample music, I can save myself hard earned money that I otherwise would waste on crap like this.

  • Mitch 3K says:

    I havent listened to it because judging from the singles I can already tell this aint for me. Just like Watch the Throne, I wasted my time with that one after everybody said it was so great and walked away not giving a fuck bout it. I never liked Kanye as a rapper, I dug his style of production, now, its just this way overproduced mess every time out, I dont like it.

  • Dayz says:

    Gotta agree with @ The man the myth and @ Mitch 3K on everything said.

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