KANYE DISAPPOINTS ‘Cruel Summer’ doesn’t pack expected punch

Joshua Basrai

After a long debacle containing several delays, Kanye West decided to work part-time in his record company’s new collaboration, Cruel Summer.

Kanye’s absence in critical songs is crucial, and ultimately the quality of the album suffers with his absence. Cruel Summer no doubt has a Kanye West feel. But the album’s shortcomings are not because Kanye didn’t deliver, but because his protégés didn’t live up to the ‘Ye’s high standards.

Many hip-hop fans, myself included, were pinning Kanye to take us to another level, as he always does. The album still employs some of the best production in the industry while maintaining his usual brash style of lyrical content. However, Kanye puts too much trust in his rookies and sophomores to carry the album and that is where Cruel Summer falls short. Too many verses are wasted on mediocre flow. For listeners seeking meaty lyrical depth and content — a la Diamonds and Through The Wire— we’re forced to wade through C+ talent to get our bite. And there isn’t much on the bone to begin with.

The album has a Kanye West feel, but if it were a failure (which it’s not) the blame would not entirely fall on Kanye, but rather his protégés. The album still employs some of the best production in the industry, while maintaining Kanye’s brash style of lyrical content. In that sense, it works. However, Kanye puts too much trust in his rookies and sophomores to carry the album, and that is where the album ultimately falls short. In an attempt to be heavy and brash, the album succeeds, but for listeners seeking lyrical depth and content, the album falls short.

Upon listening to the album, listeners will hear the voice of R. Kelly, not Kanye. This pretty much tells the story for the whole album.

The album itself has seven songs with Kanye, and five Kanye-less songs. Of the seven songs featuring Kanye, five of them were released before the album even came out. Popular singles such as “Mercy,” “Clique” and “New God Flow” are fea- tured in this album, with Kanye West’s verse in “Mercy” continuing to make 106.1 listeners’ ears bleed.

The cast of Kanye’s G.O.O.D Music label makes its first compilation. G.O.O.D contributors include: Big Sean, Pusha-T, Common, Kid Cudi, Cyhi the Prynce and John Legend. Other non-G.O.O.D (but still good) artists include 2-Chainz (a frequent G.O.O.D affiliate), Jay-Z, Raekwon and Ghostface Killa. This is good and all, but for those who wanted your proto-typical Kanye album, expect a heavy dose of Pusha-T, Big Sean, but small doses of Jay-Z and no appearance by Mos Def at all.

I was utterly disappointed to find that Mos Def does not make an appearance, but this is the new Kanye we’re talking about, not the old one.

Big Sean, Jay-Z, and Kanye assault the “Clique” beat, but good albums share a common theme with every track. The song has a very “Mercy” feel to it, but without the terrible beat cut-off. Kid Cudi makes a solo appearance in the song “Creepers.” Kid Cudi continues to sound like a depressed Wiz Khalifa, and his song seems out of place amongst the upbeat gangster-rap style employed in previous tracks. Some tracks just don’t seem to fit, and the album suffers a lack of consistency.
Hip-hop groups have proven to be a successful model in the rap industry. In this case, it works for Kanye, but barely. At times the album takes the hard- nosed drug dealing direction, but at other times it goes soft with R&B songs seeming out of place. West’s G.O.O.D music squad is pushing to compete with Rick Ross’s Maybach Music Gang, but if they want to compete, they need to pick a central theme for an album, because “Cruel Summer” sounds more like a last minute put together mix-tape.


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