All year, Kanye West’s label GOOD Music, has graced us with singles like “Mercy”, “Cold”, “I Don’t Like”, and “New God Flow”. Now, all that and more culminates in the full album release, Cruel Summer.
But, who is GOOD Music? Well first off, you have Kanye West, rap mogul, producer, entertainer, and Taylor-Swift-awards-show-interrupter. He’s fresh off the seriously excellent collab with Jay Z, Watch the Throne, and just two years ago, the boundary pushing colossus, My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy.
You have Pusha T and Kid Cudi, who have both made significant names for themselves in the past few years. Pusha T slid into the scene with his Fear of God mixtape, and Tyler the Creator collaboration “Trouble On My Mind”, while Cudi made his mark with both the single “Day ‘n’ Nite” and with Man on the Moon: End of Day.
Fresh faces like 2 Chainz and Big Sean also contribute pretty heavily to this album. Big Sean’s fame really started growing with his Nicki Minaj collab and Detroit Mixtape. While, 2 Chainz just sort of stumbled into this prestiged group, and immediately released his debut, Based on a T.R.U. Story.
Those are the power players on this album, but, Kanye and Pusha T really take the reigns on this one. They out-perform the rest on just about any track, especially on “New God Flow”.
That being said, “New God Flow” is just a cool song. The production is fantastic, the dusty piano sound is really fitting for Pusha and Kanye’s flowing. Lyrically, it’s not amazing, they have good lines here and there, but it’s basically another brag track, with them both describing how they’re basically gods among men. Despite that, it’s still a pretty solid track.
“Clique” was released as a single on September 6th, and I sort of passed it up, for whatever reason. When I first heard the song I realized something. Kanye West has literally perfected the art of writing hip hop hooks. In this particular song, Big Sean repeats the word “Clique” over and over, and while incredibly simple, it’s entirely infectious. I found myself walking in the hall with that repeating in my head over and over.
Anyway, this is a Big Sean, Kanye, and Jay Z club track. Jay and Kanye’s verses are pretty well written, but I honestly can’t stand what Big Sean does in his verses. He takes a lot of Lil Wayne’s mannerisms. Lots of word slurring, and lots of just dry, uninteresting lines. It’s just a turn off. Other than him, I love the song. It’s super catchy, but Kanye and Jay definitely carry it.
“Mercy” was the first single released, all the way back in April. When I first heard it, I just got a small clip, and unfortunately, that clip was mostly Big Sean’s verse. His rhymes are terrible. His lines are terrible. I quickly dismissed the song then, but when I eventually heard the song again, I just laughed. Big Sean’s verse is seriously the funniest thing, because it’s so awful. So awful that it’s entertaining, a common appeal in modern rap songs, I’ve found. Get past that, and you’ll see Pusha T and Kanye both giving good efforts, and then 2 Chainz closes it out. 2 Chainz is another person who has a lot of the Lil Wayne mannerisms too. The lazily rattled off lines, the slurring, and the boring cliché lines. A few weak verses, but the sampling and hook really save this one from being lame.
“Cold” was the second single, also from April. This one is really just Kanye’s. DJ Khaled is supposed to be featured, but he really just produced it, and then yells out a bunch of locations at the end of the song. The production is great though. It’s just a straight up club beat, super simple and super catchy. Kanye’s flow is great, his lines are great, and he even caught the attention of Kim Kardashian with the line: “and I’ll admit I had fell in love with Kim, about the same time she had fell in love with him / Well, okay, that’s cool baby-girl do your thang, lucky I aint had Jay drop him from the team”. Definitely one of the best on the album.
“The One” is my favorite track from the album that wasn’t released before the album. The beat is excellent, and the chorus is super catchy. Unfortunately, the song has two more unremarkable performances from Big Sean and 2 Chainz. Kanye does carry the song for awhile, at least. I love his homage to Watch the Throne, when he says: “If you ever held a title belt you would know how Michael felt. Tyson, Jackson, Jordan, Michael Phelps.” So, if you can tolerate 2 Chainz and Big Sean, this is a flat out great song.
There are a few songs on the album that were just super unmemorable. “Sin City”, “Higher”, and the solo cut from Kid Cudi, “Creepers” especially. Those tracks were just not doing it for me, and that maybe they were just filler, because most of the tracks are awesome.
The album is really held up by the singles like “Cold”, “New God Flow”, “Clique”, “Mercy”, and one or two of the new songs. As for a comparison, it’s hard to say that this album even holds a candle to Watch the Throne. That album is almost bulletproof.
There were some really strong moments from Kanye on this album, though, so you can take away that pretty soon Kanye will have to put out another solo album, and when he does, expect some pretty big things. For now, Cruel Summer has to be a 7 out of 10.