Cruel Summer Review

Cruel Summer Review
By: Denzel Codrington

When Cruel Summer was announced late last year Kanye West seemed as if he could do no wrong. He was on a hot-streak with his highly successful fifth solo album My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy as well as his collaborated effort with former label boss Jay-Z Watch the Throne. While both albums struggled to achieve platinum status; an increasingly difficult feat as file-sharing and early leaks continue to plague the music industry they were both universally critically acclaimed. MBDTF was touted by many critics as his best work to date (I disagree with this, I give this title to either College Dropout or Late Registration.. depending on my mood) and WTT has enjoyed a highly successful world tour. Shortly after WTT was released Kanye announced on his twitter plans to release a G.O.O.D. Music compilation album titled Cruel Summer in the Spring of 2012. This would be a chance for Kanye to show the diversity of his label and artists. My anticipation for this album was pretty high since in the months following its announcement, Kanye signed Mos Def and Q-Tip to his label. To my disappointment, neither of them make an appearance on this album. As hip-hop releases always go, the album missed its spring release and wasn’t released until September 18th, well after the end of summertime. Interestingly enough however with all the push-backs, the album sounds oddly rushed and not fully planned out which is strange for a project with West’s name attached to it.

The album starts with To the World featuring R. Kelly the infamous Pied Piper which sounds like Kanye’s 3rd attempt at recreating the magic of All of the Lights from MBDTF, which I thought was a well-composed song considering the clusterfuck of stars he had singing on it. He tried something similar on WTT with Lift Off which I also thought was pretty good, although it was probably one of my least favorite songs on the album since it sounded like Kanye was trying his hardest to outsing Beyonce… but I digress… This song serves as a good introduction although you would think its an R. Kelly solo track considering the fact that Kanye doesn’t start rapping until well past the 2 minute mark. The instrumental is very well-composed with lots of drums and strings playing a majestic tune for R. Kelly to do his thing on.

Clique is a pretty good club-banger that leaked a couple weeks ago. It’s produced by Hit-boy who also produced Niggas in Paris off last year’s WTT. I personally hate Big Sean and find him to be an extremely corny rapper but his verse wasn’t too bad. Jay-Z is a shell of his former self at this point in his career but his flow is pretty amusing. Its Kanye who steals the show on this song with his 32 bar verse.

Mercy is the other club banger that leaked months ago and also starts with Big Sean (seriously, fuck this guy)… Its a solid song that has a show-stealing verse from 2 Chainz . Personally if 2 Chainz has the best verse on the song though, that means the bar of lyricism on this song wasnt set very high…

New God Flow leaked back in August. The song’s chorus is made from a vocal sample of Mighty Healthy (One of my all-time favorite GFK songs) performed by Ghostface Killah, and the album version also features a verse by the rapper. Pusha T opens the song with some pretty obvious subliminal disses to Lil Wayne and YMCMB. Kanye does his usual Kanye verse and Ghostface comes in on the final verse and absolutely demolishes the track. Dead serious, this might be the coldest verse on the whole album.

The Morning is a weird track in my opinion. It seems like they weren’t sure who should be on the song so they just gave everyone between 4-8 bars. Raekwon starts it off with his lyrical darts courtesy of the Wu, followed by a short but hot verse from Common. Things kinda fall off from here with short verses from 2 Chainz and Cyhi the Prince.

Cold leaked around the same time as Mercy and went through a number of title changes. The original title was theraflu but the makers of the cold medicine weren’t very ecstatic about being associated with Kanye so it was changed to cold. For whatever reason DJ Khaled is featured on this song just yelling his normal ad-libs. Kanye uses this track to diss Kim Kardashian’s short term husband Kris Humphries. Its a pretty good song for what its worth.

Higher has that strip-club vibe to it. The Dream opens the song with a pretty cool little verse. Pusha T sounds a bit out of place on this song but doesn’t fuck it up. Pastor Ma$e makes his fourth comeback to rap and delivers a pretty good verse showing the Harlem rapper hasnt lost his stride in his sporadic hiatuses. My favorite line has to be “I bumped into Loon, he like Wassalamualaikum.. You know I ain’t Muslim, my nigga, I’m about my bacon….”

Sin City plain and simple just sucks. This song suffers from the fact that they chose to have Cyhi pretty much carry the song and close it out with some spoken-word bullshit. Straight to the skip button…

“The One” I honestly have no clue what this song is supposed to be about. Theres some marching band drums in the background and Marsha Ambrosius sings her heart out. It isnt bad per-se but it definitely isnt a stand-out track.

“Creepers” Of all the people to get a solo track on this album they gave it to Kid Cudi. And he straight fucked it up with his mumble-flow and corny lines. Worst line of this shit? “If I had one wish, it would be more wishes” C’mon son… We want Man on the Moon Cudi back…

“Bliss” This is a cool little duet and a pretty well executed song. Its also the only non-hip hop track on the album. I enjoyed it for what it was.

“I Don’t Like (Remix)” This song leaked over the summer as well and is a remix of Chief Keef’s hit song. There honestly isnt THAT much of a difference between the original and the Kanye remix which is probably why the original producer tried to sue Kanye. Don’t know why they chose to make this the closer to the album but its a pretty forgettable song..

Overall this album is just alright. Maybe I just hold Kanye to a much higher standard than what this album managed to achieve. It sounds very rushed and its biggest singles leaked months ago. Of the unheard material, very little has any replay value. I’d have to give it a 3 out of 5.

Best songs: New God Flow, Cold, Higher

Denzel Codrington

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