Album Review: “Cruel Summer”
Kanye West’s G.O.O.D. Music collective’s new album “Cruel Summer” hit the Internet Thursday night. I had high expectations. Kanye is a genius and Pusha T is one of the best rappers around. As my friend Wastro says, what could possibly go wrong? Hmmm … did I mention this is a collective effort?
Here’s a track-by-track analysis for “Cruel Summer”:
1. “To The World” – Kanye West featuring R. Kelly
If you’re gonna record a “ghetto opera” – a phrase Kanye uses on this track – then YOU MUST feature the “Trapped in the Closet” mastermind. “The whole world is a cop, bitch I’m Rick James tonight,” Kelly sings, as if he’s pissing on all the haters (or underage girls) while the world goes up in flames. I bet R. Kelly would piss on Mitt Romney – the Republican presidential nominee who Kanye notes pays no taxes. The lesson here: R. Kelly’s bladder, like Kanye’s mouth, never quits.
2. “Clique” – Big Sean featuring Kanye West and Jay-Z
Big Sean is a beast at repeating words, mantras, etc. But the dude gets pushed to the bottom of the bill as soon as Kanye and Jay-Z – heroes of the Watch the Throne tour – enter the fold. Hova on auto-pilot is better than Big Sean with pedal to the floor. As for Kanye, he is a train off the rails, and I love it. “My girl a superstar all from a home movie,” Kanye brags about Kim Kardashian, before delving into racial politics, his depression over his mom’s death, and name-dropping Spike Lee, Master P, and ELVIS!!!
3. “Mercy” – Kanye West featuring Big Sean, Pusha T & 2 Chainz
Blunts will be blazed and babies will be consummated to “Mercy”. The Kingston-in-the-shade beat is Chicago-in-the-winter cold. Pusha T is Mr. Freeze. “That white frost on that pound cake, so your Duncan Hines is irrelevant,” Pusha T declares, punctuating the lines with a trademark “WHOOOOO!” Rick James, who Pusha namedrops here, shed a tear from Heaven, I bet. Pusha’s “WHOOOOO” beats Kanye’s obnoxious grunt for best rap vocal tic featured on “Mercy.” Kanye wins for most outlandish couplet: “I threw suicides on the private jet/You know what that means I’m fly to death.”
4. “New God Flow” – Pusha T featuring Kanye West
I imagine Snoop on “The Wire” bumping “New God Flow” on-repeat in her SUV before killing somebody and hiding the body in the vacants. I also envision Rick Ross listening with a lump in his throat to Pusha T spit hard, knowing he is a fraud, a well-paid fraud but a fraud all the same. I am so lost in Pusha T’s murderous flow that Kanye’s verse goes unnoticed. Although … Kanye’s take on “I don’t know but I been told …” at the end makes me laugh on the inside. Ridiculous.
5. “The Morning” – featuring Common, Cyhi the Prynce, Kid Cudi, D’banj, Raekwon, & 2 Chainz
There’s a lot happening on “The Morning” – a raggae chorus, talk of $500 jeans and rough watches, and three references to Illuminati. Thing is this track feels like “all Indians, no chiefs.” Just sprawling and altogether skippable. P.S. I don’t know who Cyhi the Prince is. I thought Pusha T’s brother Malice changed his name to Cyhi the Prynce for some reason so I did a Google search. Here’s the answer: Christian rap meh.
6. “Cold” – Kanye West featuring DJ Khaled
Wrote about “Cold” months ago. My thoughts haven’t changed. I’d R. Kelly on this track. Yep. R. Kelly used as a verb means “piss on it.”
7. “Higher” – The-Dream & Mase
Third straight skippable track. The-Dream does zero for me. “Higher” reminds me of when a friend makes a mix with a theme and sneaks in one song that doesn’t fit that theme because “it’s cool.” Except the song sucks and should have been cut.
8. “Sin City” – featuring Teyana Taylor, Cyhi the Prynce, Malik Yusef, & Travis Scott
Baking soda passed off as cocaine. Triple-A passed off as the Majors. Why would anyone go past “New God Flow” at this point? Skip …
9. “The One” – Kanye West featuring Big Sean, 2 Chainz, & Marsha Ambrosius
Finally! Kanye returned! (YAY!) So did Big Sean (sad face). He has a nice flow when he tries but says nothing. 2 Chainz came back too. Dude is on some country shit. Too bad Big K.R.I.T. wasn’t available. The piano-tinged, limp-dicked feel of this track makes it all the more forgettable. This is one for the garbage bin.
10. “Creepers” – Kid Cudi
What. The. Fuck. Is. This? This is the best Cudi could do for this compilation? I have a lot of questions for which I don’t think there are any answers. There’s only two words for this track: An abortion.
11. “Bliss” – John Legend & Teyana Taylor
Yeah, this one is overproduced from the spacey, 1980s cheese synths to John Legend’s soulless, shiny new car vocals. And Teyana Taylor won’t make anyone forget about Rihanna or Beyonce. But … but this is a pleasant enough song as background music. Hell, compared to the second half of “Cruel Summer” it qualifies as a winner.
12. “I Don’t Like” (remix) – Pusha T featuring Kanye West, Chief Keef, Big Sean & Jadakiss
I chronicled my feelings about Chief Keef here. Short story: Dude is crazy overrated. However, this remix is fire. Easily one of the best songs on this album.
“Cruel Summer” is Chitown slugger Adam Dunn minus the walks. Tape-measure homers or strikeouts, nothing in between except the track “Bliss”, which a single. I would rather have heard a Kanye & Pusha T “Watch Us Snort This Blow” album. I am still holding out for that album.