Review: G.O.O.D. Music – Cruel Summer

Hip Hop is being dominated by a number of super crews at the moment: Maybach Music, Young Money/Cash Money and G.O.O.D. Music. Each with their own headline act Rick Ross, Lil Wayne and Kanye West respectively. Much in the same way Maybach Music’s Self Made series of albums have helped to propel the label’s acts to a higher plateau (Wale’s debut album sold 28,000 in its first week of release versus his sophomore album Ambition, which was released after MMG’s Self Made, debuted at number 2 on the Billboard charts and is now close to being certified Gold), Cruel Summer aims to follow.

The album’s first single was “Mercy” – a certified banger. Through adlibs and a show stealing verse respectively, Big Sean and 2 Chainz (two rappers who are not necessarily known for their lyrical ability) bring exactly what a song like “Mercy” needs.

Click here to watch possibly the best reaction to “Cold”, which began life as “Theraflu” before becoming “Way Too Cold” until things were made alot simpler. Kanye provides a brilliant performance on this song, in which he goes at his foes and gets personal about his relationships. He attacks PETA in retaliation for their apparent attack on Kim, “Tell PETA my mink is dragging on the floor,” as well as quashing the rumoured beef with Wiz Khalifa and how his relationship with Kim Kardashian started in addition to some harsh words for Kim’s former husband Kris Humphries.

“And the whole industry want to fuck your old chick
Only nigga I got respect for is Wiz
And I’ll admit, I had fell in love with Kim
Around the same time she had fell in love with him
Well that’s cool, baby girl, do ya thang
Lucky I ain’t had Jay drop him from the team” – Kanye West

Cruel Summer’s third single was “New GodFlow” the version which appears on the album differs to the version which leaked online earlier this year as it contains an appearance by Wu Tang Clan’s Ghostface Killah. On the song Pusha T speaks on his move to the G.O.O.D. Music camp and addresses questions on whether he’d fit in directly.

“I came aboard for more than just to rhyme with
Think ’99, when Puff woulda had Shyne with him” – Pusha T

The last verse on “New God Flow” is from Ghostface Killah and the first verse on the following song, “The Morning” is by fellow Wu Tang Clan member Raekwan – a nice touch. It is the production on this song that is most memorable and perhaps the only reason that this song is worth replaying. The same can be said for “Sin City”, although Chyi The Prynce’s verse is as good as I’ve heard from him.

“GOOD would have been God but I added more O’s” – Kanye West

Cruel Summer is an album with brilliant production and it has a sound that is unlike any other album released in recent times. The fact that that “To The World” took seven producers to make and “The One” was brought about by calling on the skills of Kanye West, Hudson Mohawke and Mannie Fresh (plus others) is an example of what to expect.

Kid Cudi’s “Creepers” is the album’s sole solo track and it is perhaps the deepest. The song only has one verse but that is ample space for Cudi to let us into his troubles (girls, haters, an illness) and he does that well.

Teyana Taylor seems to be G.O.O.D. Music’s bit part player and unfortunately when she does get a chance to shine it is on “Bliss”, a song that is forgettable at best. The album’s closing song “I Don’t Like” is actually a remix and is not as good as Chief Keef’s original which should have been left alone (although I’m sure Keef will appreciate the royalties he’s about to receive courtesy of Kanye!).

Cruel Summer’s fourth single “Clique” is headed up by Big Sean and it’s a credit to him that he takes the lead on a song which also features Jay-Z and label boss Kanye West. Although as a result the lyrics on the song are poor but it has good energy and will no doubt sound good in the club.

The production is once again on point for “Higher” and Pusha T sounds at home on the beat. Ma$e’s best days are however behind him, he’s not delivered anything memorable since his come back and this weak effort can be added to that growing list of poor verses. “Higher” should have just been a Pusha T song featuring The-Dream & Cocaine 80’s to help maintain the high.

“To the World”
“The One”

“Don’t Like”

Cruel Summer is not a Kanye West album, it’s a G.O.O.D Music album and as such it is not as good as his recent offerings (Watch The Throne & My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy). If the aim of the album was to help the audience become more acquainted with the label’s artists then it hasn’t achieved that for small fish such as Chyi The Prynce and Teyana Taylor. It is perhaps Pusha T (who featured on two of Cruel Summer’s singles, most prominently “New God Flow”) who will enjoy a notable increase of interest in his next project along with Big Sean (who has appearances on two big songs “Mercy” and “Clique” – which is always a good thing career wise). Cruel Summer does however reaffirm G.O.O.D. Music’s position as one of the prime labels/crews in Hip Hop easily trouncing Young Money’s 2009 effort We Are Young Money as well as both of MMG’s Self Made releases.

To view a guide to Best In New Music’s Album review rating system click here.

Avoid | Stream | Recommend

Cruel Summer is available to buy now on iTunes UK & iTunes US.