Totally Biased Album Review: G.O.O.D Music’s “Cruel” Compilation Is a “Summer” Success

When word first broke that Kanye West and his G.O.O.D. Music team would be putting out a compilation album in the Spring of 2012, the hip-hop community was abuzz like never before. Suddenly, “Spring” became August, and August become September, and many wondered if the album would be pushed back yet again, never mind even worth the wait.

Well, last night Kanye and GM fans finally got their answer as the album leaked to the world.

I think I speak for everyone when I say… WOW.

Every member of the talent laden GM contributed to what will go down as the hip-hop best collaboration album of the year, decade, and 21st century. From Pusha T, the former coke dealer and Clipse member, to Big Sean, a Detroit rapper with severely underrated flow, all the way to KiD Cudi and John Legend, who add a bit of a different sound to the phenomenal track list, it’s all “good.”

The album opens with “To The World”, which serves magnificently as the opening track to the album, with a spectacular hook by R. Kelly, and of course the albums first fire verse, spit by none other than the boss himself, Mr. West.

Mmm ain’t this some shit? Pulled up in the A-V-entador
And the doors, raise up, like praise the Lord
Did the fashion show, and a tour, and a movie, and a score
This a ghetto opera, Francis Ford Car Coppola

One of hip-hop’s most anticipated albums, CS drops on September 18th.

The fourth single from the album, “Clique” is a total banger, featuring GM youngin’ Big Sean, and Hov himself, along

with West. All three artists deliver solid verses, with Kanye’s coming on top, just a bit ahead of Jay. The Hit-Boy produced beat is great, and gives the track a real “opera” feel.

“Mercy” and “New God Flow” keep the energy at an all time high, with the former making a push at being one of the hottest songs of the summer, and the latter, in my opinion, features the best West verse since “My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy”.

Big Sean and Pusha T both demolish the first pair of verses on “Mercy”, and ‘Ye’s interlude-esque verse demonstrates a ton of flexibility by the production team [Lifted, Kanye, and Hudson Mohawk].

New God Flow, by Pusha T and West is trap music at it’s finest, especially since the addition of great verse by Ghostface Killah. One of my favorite songs on the album, every single verse is a show-stopper.

Hold up, I ain’t trying to stunt, man
But these Yeezys jumped over the Jumpman
Went from most hated to the champion god flow
I guess that’s a feeling only me and Lebron know
I’m living three dreams:
Biggie Smalls’, Dr. King’s, Rodney King’s
Cause we can’t get along, no resolution
Till we drown all these haters, rest in peace to Whitney Houston

“The Morning” peels the energy back a bit, aided by an extremely catchy verse by D’Banj, a Nigerian singer-songwriter. Raekwon of Wu-Tang Clan fame drops the first verse, and proves how far GM went to make sure that only the best of the best were featured on the album. Common, a GM member since 2004 split a verse with Pusha, which is a shame, because I would’ve loved to see Com’ handle a full 16 or 32 bars by himself. Regardless, this one of the best tracks on the entire album.

Kanys, Pusha, Sean, and 2 Chaaaaaaiiiiinz all make Mercy a great banger.

DJ Khaled and ‘Ye team up for “Cold” the albums second single that dropped in April. One of the club bangers from CS, the track had a party feel to it for sure, but won’t attract a lot of love from Kanye stans, as it far from his solo album material.”Higher”, the seventh track is absolutely stunning, and delivers amazing production. The Dream handles the chorus, and Pusha T delivers a strong verse, and Ma$e brings one of the best feature verses on the album.

“Sin City” is one of the only tracks that will toe the line of loving it or hating it, unfortunately, I fall on the latter side. The beat, and the hook are phenomenal, but the Malik Yusef spoken word verse, and CyHi’s verse don’t really do much for me. It’s worth a few listens however, just for Teyana Taylor’s amazing chorus.

Ahh, finally, we reach the best song on “Cruel Summer”, and it’s not even close. “The One” has it ALL. The best production, hook, and verse on the album. Marsha Ambrosia’s hook is extremely catchy, and West’s opening verse is genius, serving as an “eff you” to the rest of the industry. Big Sean and 2 Chainz don’t disappoint in the slightest, delivering both of their best verses on the album as well. Slide this one to the top of your next playlist.

Treat the back seat like a sofa bedExplain
Break bread with my niggas, call it profit share
This some good shit, but it get better
And yeah my bitch cold, nigga thin sweater
Like my verse suede and the beat leather
Just tryin’ to stay above sea level

The final three songs of the album are quite hit or miss, starting with “Creepers” a KiD CuDi track. The song is far from new, as CuDi performed it as far back as April… of 2011. The song is upbeat, and very “Cudi”, and I feel like it would’ve been a better fit if placed more in the middle of the album to break up the meat of the sandwich, so to speak. Nevertheless, CuDi fans will love the track, others will probably hit skip.

“Bliss”, a song featuring some of the best voice in GM, John Legend and Teyana Taylor. Upon first listen, it doesn’t really home. I admit, I wasn’t really feeling it until the third or fourth time I heard it. Is it different from all the other tracks? Of course, but that’s what you get with compilations. It grows on you, trust me. And Legend? Incredible… As always.

For anyone who hasn’t heard of Chief Keef, all I can say, is I’m jealous. A young and upcoming rapper from Chicago, Keef has been at the center of controversy. He has been connected, albeit loosely, to the murder of a Chicago teen from a rival gang.

Chicago natives Kanye West, Dwyane Wade, and even Jay-Z have spoken out against the murder in Chi Town, and plenty of fans were calling for the song to be pulled from the album. No such luck. Unfortunately, the verses by Pusha T and Kanye West are fire, so you can’t really avoid this one. Jadakiss on the other hand… Well… He’s Jadakiss.

They smile in my face is what I don’t like
They steal your whole sound, that’s a soundbite
The media crucify me like they did Christ
They want to find me not breathing like they found Mike

==============================================

The Final Verdict

There will most likely be two extremely different views on “Cruel Summer”.

One view will be held by people who feel very strongly for Kanye West and the music he writes and produces. The other view will be from rap/hip-hop fans in general. I fit the first category, but have been able to approach the album with an open mind, and feel like I know what direction this is heading in.

Kanye West fans will feel as if he didn’t put enough of himself in the album. They might complain that ‘Ye didn’t have enough verses, or offer enough production. This is simply not true.

West delivered seven verses for the album, and considering there’s only 12 songs, I’d call that plenty for, and remember this, a compilation album. He is also listed as the lead producer on three songs, and credited on eight of them.

“Cruel Summer” should only be compared to other compilation albums out there. Namely, “We Are Young Money”, and “Self Made Vol. 1”, by the Rick Ross led Maybach Music Group.

WAYM pushed out 142,000 copies the first week, and that was very heavily aided by their summer hit “Bedrock.””Self Made Vol. 1”, from April all the way to November has only sold 185,000 copies total! I fully expect Cruel Summer to edge out both albums.

Could Cruel Summer have been better? Of course. But did it accomplish what it set it to do? That and then some. Kanye West did a masterful job of promoting his artists with upcoming albums, Big Sean, Pusha T, and KiD Cudi, and also gave the legends like Common, John Legend, Jadakiss, and Raekwon something special to be a part of.

Appreciate this album for what it is fans. It’s the best hip-hop collaboration album we’ll see for a long time, and Kanye saved his best verses and production for his solo album.

So, Kanye fans are right. It’s not a “Kanye West” type album. And it wasn’t supposed to be. I think my rating speaks for itself.

How was the album? God damn, G.O.O.D

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