Cruel Summer Review

Many of the songs off of the GOOD Music album “Cruel Summer” had already leaked. It was hit or miss with those songs, most of which were club bangers. The anticipation and hype for this album was rightfully huge, but as time went on, I lost more and more excitement. The leak of “Clique” really dimmed the lights on it for me, as all it seemed to me was another average song of the same light as the rest of the leaked ones. Luckily many of the unheard songs were of a different tone, and there were many artists that had been withheld.

I’m not good at reviewing songs. I have a hard time articulating how I feel and finding the right adjectives to describe things. But I’ll try.

Also, this is only after a few listens to each song. Most everything eventually grows on me, so these initial impressions may ultimately be false ones. Enjoy.

1. To The World – (Kanye West, Teyana Taylor and R. Kelly)

This was one of the tracks I was most looking forward too. I’m a huge R. Kelly fan, and while I think it’s a bit uninspiring and there is absolutely no emotion to it, it wasn’t bad. It’s catchy, but far from what I hoped. You get a song with R. Kelly, to open your album, and all you give us is “put your middle fingers up” and talks of running the world. Kanye’s verse is pretty mundane; it’s mainly just a bunch of name-dropping. Disappointed.

3/5

2. Clique – (Kanye West, Jay-Z and Big Sean)

The hook sucks, I don’t even find it catchy, mainly just annoying. I’m not a big Big Sean fan at all. This isn’t his worst stuff, but it still does little for me. He always just comes off as being more corny than anything else. Jay-Z comes in, again boasting for the millionth time how no one is on his level. Again, it’s not his worst stuff, it’s just mundane. The beat relatively simple, and relatively ordinary. I love Kanye’s verse, but again far from his best. It was when I heard this song, after already hearing Cold, Mercy, New God Flow and I Don’t Like, my expectations kind of plummeted. It’s not horrible, it’s just not anything I’m going to listen to beyond a few days.

3/5

3. Mercy – (Kanye West, Big Sean, Pusha T, 2 Chainz)

Compared to the other G.O.O.D. Friday singles, this one doesn’t really stand out. It’s nothing new, and it essentially feels like four separate freestyles thrown together on one track, bu it works. There’s plenty of braggadocios, expensive-sounding production and a strong synthy hook that fits the song perfect. I love the background chanting, and I feel like most of the artists at least try to do the song justice. Pusha’s verse is solid, and again it’s meh from Kanye and Sean. 2 Chainz stood out though, laying down one of the few verses he’s ever done that isn’t awful. It’s a club song – nothing more and nothing less – so for what it is it certainly works.

3.5/5

4. New God Flow – (Kanye West, Pusha T and Ghostface Killah)

This was my favorite of the early leaks. I loved Pusha’s two verses. From the start he brought his A-game proudly and comfortably boasting about a myriad of things. Kanye’s verse is great The beat is more serious and less grandiose than most of the other beats, and the hook, while a bit different, ultimately works and certainly grew on me. It’s not a “banger”, and I’m 100% fine with that. In fact, I prefer that from these guys. The outro on the original non-Ghostface version dragged on, so the addition of one of my favorite Wu-Tang members certainly sits well with me.

4/5

5. The Morning – (Raekwon, Pusha T, Common, 2 Chainz, Cyhi the Prynce, Kid Cudi and D’banj)

Since almost half the album had leaked prior to today’s leak, there wasn’t a lot to be super excited about, but any song with Raewon (my favorite Wu-Tang member ever) and Common (one of my absolute favorite artists ever) certainly piqued my interest. However, I’m not sure how much I really do like it. Raekwon went, but Common was pretty average and only spit a few bars. Pusha finished up the verse fine. Ultimately, it’s just too many people forced into one song and some lazy sounding verses. It sounds awkward at time. The beat also just doesn’t do it for me. Maybe it grows on me, but I was disappointed.

3/5

6. Cold – (Kanye West and DJ Khaled)

The song was fun when it came out, but I’ve already played it out. The beat is a pretty simple 90’s sounding one, and Kanye flows perfectly over it. Kanye gets surprisingly personal, and the rest of it more fiery and the arrogance once again oozes. It was fun for a few weeks, but there’s nothing that keeps me coming back to it. It’s different from the latest Kanye songs, and that’s not necessarily bad, but because of that it just feels a bit lacking. There’s no creativity, style or great production here. It’s just not a song that should ever hit a Kanye album.

3/5

7. Higher – (The-Dream, Pusha T, Mase and Cocaine 80s)

I really like most of The Dream’s earlier stuff. The beginning of this song is just annoying and unsettling even. I don’t know how much I like the hook either. I do like how the song progresses. It’s multi-layered to a MBDTF level. I Pusha and Mase put down good verses. Mase almost sounds vintage here, something he hasn’t been able to do in a while. It’s smooth after the beginning. I’m really on the fence. A lot of good, and a lot of bad. It could be one to grow on me (only 3 listens through).

3/5

8. Sin City – (John Legend, Travis Scott, Teyana Taylor, Cyhi the Prynce and Malik Yusef)

I think Cyhi got better as his verse went on, but I think there are more fitting G.O.O.D. Music artists for his verse, but it does work. The song is intriguing, it isn’t boring or unoriginal, and the pieces ultimately do come together. The first play through I think I was just overwhelmed, but with subsequent listens it grew on me. In fact, I really like it. But that’s not too surprising really; I’m more into softer, smoother, lighter songs rather than the synth-heavy bangers.

4/5

9. The One – (Kanye West, Big Sean, 2 Chainz and Marsha Ambrosius)

Again, this is more in alignment with what music appeals to me lately. Marsha is great, and it sets a great sentimental tone right off the bat. The simple beat comprised of the piano and drums works perfectly. Kanye’s verse is more Late Registration than Watch the Throne, and I’m perfectly fine with that. Again, I could have lived without Big Sean…just give Kanye two verses. He doesn’t ruin it, and his switching of tempos works great, and I usually prefer him on slower and calmer songs like this. I was really curious to see how 2 Chainz fit in on the song, and while it certainly isn’t the best fit, it’s again OK. If this song was Kanye, Pusha and Common, or even just Cyhi, I think I’d be in love. Those two are better fits. Hell, bring Mos Def along for a verse. Better artist selections would have led to a much better song. It’s got a little bit of the “Made in America” corniness to it also.

4/5

10. Creepers – (Kid Cudi)

I’m not a fan of the current Kid Cudi. I liked his really early stuff, but most of his new stuff really doesn’t do it for. He sounds hungry, but I just don’t really like his flow for most of the song. The beat is solid, it’s pulsating, but nothing too original. What is he really even doing on the song though? I know it’s typical for him, but I’m not a fan of the stagnated talky stuff. It’s just not something I’ll really ever listen too. I think rather than giving him his own song, they should have just infused him into a few others. I can live with Cudi hooks, I don’t really like this.

2.5/5

11. Bliss – (John Legend and Teyana Taylor)

Very smooth and solid. It doesn’t grab my attention as much as I hoped, and I keep finding myself zoning out. Both Teyana and John were great. I like it, but it’s not anything I haven’t heard before. It’s as average of a song as I’ve ever heard.

3.5/5

12. I Don’t Like (Remix) – (Kanye West, Chief Keef, Pusha T, Big Sean and Jadakiss)

A fun song. Chief Keef shouldn’t have ever came within striking distance of a G.O.O.D. Music song. It is what it is. I’m sure it’s mostly love/hate. I’m just indifferent. I don’t listen to it really ever. Cheap drum synths + Chief Keef + Big Sean = ugh.

3/5

This is not a great album in my opinion. Maybe I’d be more impressed if I hadn’t heard half the song already, but there is very little here that blew me off my feet, and not a whole lot that I haven’t before.

I can’t knock Kanye’s creative genius, but I really think he dropped the ball on some of the features. Kanye works well with every single individual on this album, but the rest don’t always mix and match well. There are song where it seems like too many people were forced onto that one track. I felt that “Bliss” was almost out of place. I’m all for an R&B song like that, but what purpose does it serve on this album? Put John on some hooks.

Where’s Q-Tip? Where’s Mr. Hudson? Why is Big Sean on 1/3 of the the songs?

It’s an album that doesn’t have one sound, much like some of his prior works. That’s tough to do, but perhaps mixing and matching all these guys was a futile task. Perhaps I’m being too nit-picky, but there isn’t a single song that I think I’ll be listening to months, maybe even weeks, from now. There is something for everyone here, as the variety of song styles is significant, but as a whole, it feels a bit scattered. But that’s probably to be expected on a collaboration CD like this.

Ultimately it was just disappointing. Even with Watch the Throne, an album I’m not too fond of, I remember vividly listening to it for the first time. It was fun and attention-grabbing. This, not so much. I wanted so much more from it. There was so much potential with all these artists affiliated with the label, and it just was so incredibly MEH. Ultimately I got more of artists I didn’t want and less of those I did. Does that mean it was a bad album? Not necessarily, it just means I was personally disappointed.

A G.O.O.D. Friday CD, with all the G.O.O.D. Friday songs would have been a better project.

Final score: 6/10

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One Response to Cruel Summer Review

  1. Pingback: Hip Hop Album Release Dates « Switch The Motto

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