Cruel Summer album proves a G.O.O.D first try

By J’na Jefferson

Kanye West’s long-anticipated collaboration album Cruel Summer with his label G.O.O.D Music has finally dropped, but was it worth the wait?

Cruel Summer album cover (Facebook)

The answer may surprise you, but it was just all right. If you really knew me, you’d know that I’m in love with just about everything Kanye West puts out, but this album just didn’t really give me as much as I was expecting. I had placed it on such a high pedestal ever since I heard it was coming out. However, I need to remind both myself and you readers that this is not a Kanye West album — this is a G.O.O.D. Music album, so there are a bunch of different styles and sounds going on that fit all of the artists involved. Needless to say, it was just all right.

Earlier in the summer, fans got to hear a taste of what the album had to offer as West dropped “Mercy,” “Cold” (previously titled “Theraflu” and “Way Too Cold”) and “New God Flow”. These songs are some of the shining moments on the album. Other standout tracks include “Clique” by West, Jay-Z and Big Sean, and “To The World” featuring R. Kelly. Great beats, original lyrics and production were what made these songs stand out to me.

I found myself getting bored with some of the tracks led by some of G.O.O.D. Music’s other acts, such as “The Morning” by Kid Cudi, 2Chainz, CyHi the Prince and Pusha T, among many other artists. I feel that the song is not as strong as it should be. I think that since it features some newer artists (CyHi the Prince, Pusha T), our ears aren’t used to their sound yet.  However, The Dream’s song “Higher” featuring Pusha T and Ma$e restored my faith in some of the other tracks that don’t include Yeezy, such as “Bliss” by John Legend and “Creepers” by Kid Cudi. The production and style of these songs are fantastic. They totally fit the sound of the artists.  None of them had to feature too many people to make the songs sound good.

To make the album worthwhile for his eager fans, West unleashed tons of his pseudo secret weapons: seemingly unknown special guests. They included English singer-songwriter Marsha Ambrosius, Teyana Taylor, newly signed label member and My Super Sweet 16 alumna and Malik Yasef, a spoken word artist who worked with West on My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy.

Hopefully being featured on a song by West will catapult these artists to super stardom. After all, that was true for Bon Iver and Frank Ocean — both have collaborated with the rapper on earlier efforts.  I like how Kanye showcases lesser-known artists who are not in the same genre as him. It gives them a taste of what it’s like to work with different artists and it also brings their talents to the forefront. It also must be flattering to have someone enjoy your music enough to want to work with you.

Oh, and how could I forget? I truly admire the digging that he must have done to find some of the samples that he uses. It shows his respect for different genres and his willingness to try new things. “Mercy” samples a Reggae song, “The Morning” uses a song from the movie-musical My Fair Lady and “New God Flow” includes a Samba song.

All in all, this album was not as memorable as I had hoped, with the exception of a few tracks, but as the first collaborative effort for the label, it was a G.O.O.D try.

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