Kanye West & Company—otherwise known more inclusively as G.O.O.D. Music—released its first collaborative studio album today.
While Kanye has a heavy creative presence, it’s not a My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy follow up whatsoever—a solo Kanye record would have more narrative woven throughout. Instead the hotly anticipated 12-track Cruel Summer is a machine of crew names like Big Sean, Pusha T, Common, Kid Cudi, The-Dream, CyHi the Prynce, John Legend, and of course, the label’s king maestro Kanye West. Jay-Z, 2 Chainz, R. Kelly, Raekwon, and Marsha Ambrosius also make substantial contributions to the record.
With that much cross-generational talent and the bar for it set so high with every reported Hawaii studio recording session, its finally letting people dive into the rap/hip-hop convo of the moment: Does Cruel Summer live up to the hype?
The collective critical mood appears to be that it’s G.O.O.D but not G.R.E.A.T.
Considering it’s a first time effort from the team, that’s not necessarily a bad critique, just a leveled observation for a project of this magnitude. Most of the “underwhelming” sentiment might be because the strongest tracks all preceded the album’s release leaving little surprise for listeners. Listening to Cruel Summer is kind of like listening to a movie where all its best parts were already showed in the trailer.
Regardless, it doesn’t take away from its essential tracks like the piano confident “New God Flow,” the can’t-believe-you’re-about-to-hit-the-pavement-to-an-opera-sample “Clique,” or that “Mercy” has some one of the best rhymes on the radio this summer: Kanye ebbing and flowing “Something about Mary / She gone off that Molly / Now the whole party is melted like Dali” and Big Sean riffing five variations of the word “ass” in its opening verse. Guess you could say the cruelest part of Cruel Summer is there isn’t more of all this.
What do you think? Worth the wait?