Album Review: Cruel Summer - G.O.O.D. Music
The highly anticipated compilation album Cruel Summer that is the brainchild from Kanye West and his G.O.O.D. (Getting Out Our Dreams) music label may feature a roster of all-stars, but this album is dominated by Yeezy himself and that is what makes this album work.
A few songs into the album I worried that I was going to love all of the Kanye verses and have to tolerate all of the other artists. To an extent that did happened, but not for the reasons you would expect. The reason for that has more to do with Kanye’s performance than it does with the other artists on this album. The artists not named Kanye West showed themselves well enough for the most part. I am not the biggest fan of 2 Chainz or Big Sean, but their performances never made me want to change to the next song. What drives this album is strictly Mr. West.
Cruel Summer is an empty parking lot that Kanye West turns into his amusement park. In the process, he shows that he is a top 5 rapper in the game right now. That statement shows itself on the second track of the album “Clique”. I love the beat in this song but the repeating of the word clique in the hook was annoying the first time I heard it. On a second listen it becomes easier to tolerate. Kanye’s verse on this song is one of the best verses I have ever heard from him. And it does not let up.
The first six tracks on the album are really a Kanye West album with some guest appearances on them. The best song on the album is “The One” which features Kanye West, 2 Chainz, Big Sean, and Marsha Ambrosius. This is one of the few songs that 2 Chainz showed me the reason why there is so much hype surrounding him.
Another thing that makes this album works is its length. Many times compilation albums tend to have too many tracks and have no cohesion. Cruel Summer avoids that pitfall by only having 12 tracks and none of the songs ever feel forced or out of place.
The album is not without its flaws; with the main one being the opening track “To The World” that features R. Kelly. I am not an R. Kelly fan at all. I wasn’t a fan of his even before he found himself in the middle of a scandal involving an under aged female. Kelly’s contributions to this song are less than impressive. His vocal performance sounds over produced, over auto tuned, and drags down the song. Kanye’s verse helps saves this song but I will not begrudge anyone who skips past that song.
The other song that I did not like was “Cold” featuring DJ Khaled and it has nothing to do with Kanye’s rapping or the production of the track. It is all because the last minute of this track features the thing I hate most about rap music. It is DJ Khaled yelling shout outs to different people, places, and things. Literally, it is screaming over the beat forcing everyone to hear about people and places they don’t care about. It is a shame because “Cold” could have been one of the better tracks on this album.
Compilations are very hit or miss. The last compilation that delivered as well as Cruel Summer did was 2003’s The Neptunes Present…Clones. Not shocking that the one thing both these album have in common are they are the creation of two uber hip-hop producers.
By Craig Brenner