Kanye West has become somewhat of a household name in recent years. He's been hot in the music news since his infamous 'imma let chu finish' at the MTV Video Music Awards in 2009. He's certainly been busy releasing what was regarded as one of the finest albums of 2010 with My Beautiful Dark TwistedFantasy, then releasing the collaborative effort Watch The Throne with Jay Z. Kanye doesn't do quiet, and he certainly won’t be slowing down. Cruel Summer is the next project Kanye puts his name towards. It's a compilation album of tracks by artists who are on Kanye's label, G.O.O.D. Music. Of course Kanye appears on pretty much every track, highlighting his brilliance on the opening track "To The World", where he raps, "Mitt Romney don’t pay not tax."
"Clique" is a dirty, yes... Dirty, repetitious track. It features Big Sean, Jay Z and Kanye, however the lyrical content isn't nearly as good as Kanye's usual. The instrumental has many wobbled bass moments and a hard hitting synth section, but overall it's not very strong. "Mercy" is a much stronger track with a delicate but impromptu Scarface sample which strikes the listener with dramatic effect. The lyrics are glorious and Kanye delivers the best rhymes, whilst 2 Chanz does his thing... Which is basically nothing.
"New God Flow" is less memorable than Mercy, although Mercy seems to be the instant standout track. The guests do little to excite me on this track and the automobile Lamborghini Murcielago seems to pop up sporadically, not just on this track but on this compilation album, other automobiles are available. Likewise, "This Morning" fails to grab my attention because of the weak synthesized string work. And "Cold" is pretty pathetic when compared to Kanye's earlier work. The instrumental is far too electronic and chart sounding for my liking.
Cruel Summer seems to fall apart before it comes together. "Higher" is built around another chart sounding electronic instrumental. I like my hip-hop to sound fresh and original, standing out from the Nicki Minaj loving norm, these tracks are all similar and I don't like it. "Sin City" is noticeable by its heavy bass. Other than that, it's quite forgettable, like many of the tracks on this compilation. The vocalists are irrelevant because the production is just completely flawed. The lyrics are ok, but they're not exactly provocative, informative or interesting really, it comes with the same typical artist personas.
"The One" is one of the better tracks on the album, because of Kanye's emotional contribution. It's somewhat of an emotional ballad with a brilliant piano instrumental. The bass beat and drum pattern are special in the fact they're not typical and chart sounding. By chart sounding, I mean it doesn't have the same beat and features as a Katy Perry / Nicki Minaj single, just clearing that up. "Creepers" has similar synthesizer soundscapes but a much faster and brighter drum beat. The vocals are by John Legend and I'm not his biggest fan, however he delivers a respectable vocal and it's effective with the instrumental. The back side to this album sounds much more professional and sophisticated.
The final two tracks breathe light into Cruel Summer. They're somewhat of a saviour to the simplistic hip-hop production. This compilation album might as well be called Kanye West and Friends; however the final two tracks feature a minimal amount of Kanye. Having Kanye on the track isn't a bad thing, considering the best tracks actually feature him as lead vocalist/rapper. "Bliss" is a completely Kanye-free zone, with John Legend and Teyana Taylor splitting verses. The final track varies from utter amateur to straight up immature. Random use of the 'N' word is not cool anymore, and I don't think it ever was. Chief Keef originally wrote the song and for the purpose of this compilation, it's been re-worked for Kanye's approval. Chief Keef isn't actually on the GOOD Music roster, so I'm not too sure why he's appearing, but then again I heard Jay Z on Clique. Anyway, Chief Keef delivers an awful adolescent hip-hop track with very little meaning (to me). He honestly sounds like an enraged Soulja Boy with a few dark secrets.
Cruel Summer isn’t exactly an album full of hits. As a compilation, it does its best to showcase the artists in Kanye's roster. The production lacks quality and variety at times. The references seem forced and overused, such as Kanye's trademark and 2 Chainz predictable rapping. It's not Kanye at his best, but he doesn't need to be at his best for this release, it's just an advertisement really. It's worth a listen to hear what these artists have to say because some are not presently releasing albums/singles, just don't expect anything surprising.