Cruel Bummer

Jackson Leeds

Listening to the latest album by the G.O.O.D. Music collective reminded me of something: this is not the new Kanye West album. “Cruel Summer” feels as if it was thrown together to make money; it lacks the artistry of “My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy.” There are some great tracks on here, but you’ve probably already heard most of them.

The album cover of “Cruel Summer” is quite similar to “Watch the Throne,” but unlike “Watch the Throne,” this album is hardly innovative. Jay-Z makes an appearance on “Clique,” which is arguably the best song on the album. However, many listeners will complain that lyrics about Kim Kardashian and eating “Breakfast at Gucci” are hard to relate to and pretentious, to say the least. “Clique” is one of the two tracks produced by Hit Boy, which is a large reason why it is one of the best.

At first, it seemed innovative for Kanye to rap about high fashion and designer clothes, name-dropping brands like Gucci and Balmain. On “Cruel Summer,” Kanye tries to get more mileage out of his old tricks instead of finding new ones. And the result is underwhelming.

The album starts off with “To the World,” which features Kanye West and R. Kelly. The inclusion of R. Kelly here is quite random – it sounds as if Kelly just happened to be around when Kanye was forming the track. This song reminds me of “All of the Lights,” except it is not as catchy and includes less rapping from Kanye.

“Mercy” is a great track, but any song where 2 Chainz steals the show makes me question how much of a show there was in the first place. In one of the funnier lines on the album, he remarks: “Ketchup to my campaign, coupe the color of mayonnaise.” As much as I enjoy 2 Chainz on this track, his verse represents the lyrical decline that exists in mainstream hip-hop today. Instead of lyrics about struggle or things that real people care about, he is making silly references to things we, as listeners, simply cannot relate to.

The one DJ Khaled cut on the album, “Cold,” is a fantastic break from all of the collaborative tracks. It sounds as if it doesn’t belong, as it contains more emotion and aggression than any other song on the album. The production from Hit Boy is as good as it is on “Clique.” In a song where the main subjects are Kim Kardashian and getting money, it is terrifying to think that this is probably the most sincere song on this entire compilation.

“I Don’t Like (Remix)” is another track that feels out of place. Chief Keef is the kind of rapper that makes music for people who worry about getting caught by the feds or killed in a drug ring. His subject matter doesn’t fit with Kanye’s designer jeans or Big Sean’s sense of humor (if you can even call it that). As fun as this song is, it’s pretty mindless; Biggie probably shook his head when he heard this cut.

The main part of “Cruel Summer” that I cannot understand is why the collaborations seem so random and forced. For the most part, these artists have a lot of experience working with each other and a decent amount of musical talent. Unfortunately, many of these artists sound like they were simply thrown into the melting pot, without any consideration of if they would complement the existing ingredients. 2 Chainz seems to not fit with the rest of G.O.O.D. Music at all, yet his verses are some of the clear highlights of “Cruel Summer.”

If you want to hear the best verse on the whole album, you have to check out Raekwon on “The Morning.” Even though Raekwon’s lyrics are nothing new, they still sound great. His verse is one of the few moments on the album where the music actually feels ominous and threatening, as opposed to many of the other songs which try and fail.

The bottom line is that if you have not been following the G.O.O.D Music camp and these songs are new to you, then you will find a lot to enjoy here. However, if you have been keeping up with songs like “Mercy” and “I Don’t Like,” then you probably won’t find enough new (or worthwhile) content here.

Contact Jackson Leeds at [email protected]