When Kanye West is the undisputed leader of a group of talented artists, the expectations are sky high. In the case of “Cruel Summer” by G.O.O.D. Music, this has never been proven better.
G.O.O.D. Music consists of multiple rappers including Common, Kid Cudi, Big Sean, Grammy award-winner John Legend and the new producer-turned-rapper Hit-Boy.
The album begins on a high point with a surprising R. Kelly collaboration coupled with a strong verse from West that goes perfectly with the heavy drums. The album continues with a couple major collaborations, one between Kanye West, Jay-Z and Big Sean. The other features West, Big Sean, Pusha T and new member, 2 Chainz, for the smash summer hit “Mercy.”
The next track is reminiscent of “Watch the Throne” because it features West and Pusha-T, each with long verses, but they use the transition between their verses as a space to do a rapid line-for-line exchange. Kanye uses the song as a way to note the change in his reputation with the line, “I went from the most hated to the champion god flow, I guess that’s a feeling only me and Lebron know.” The song also features Ghostface Killah, whose verse was an exclusive for the album.
The reggae-sampled song “The Morning” features Raekwon along with G.O.O.D. regulars Common, Cyhi the Prynce and Kid Cudi along with 2 Chainz. What the song lacks in focus is made up for with strong self-stylized verses.
Kanye’s presence on the first half of the album is well noted, being featured on the first six songs, including the song “Cold,” another hit single of the summer. After the halfway point, the rest of the G.O.O.D. Music cast takes the leads and finishes the album by committee. Pusha-T gets his chance to prove his place as one of Kanye’s strongest G.O.O.D. members with the bizarrely produced song “Higher” featuring surprise collaboration with Mase.
One of the strongest tracks on the album features Teyana Taylor who provides perfect melodies in “Sin City,” provoking thoughts about the vices of humanity in the track. The song ends with slam poet Malik Yusef, one of the longest tenured members of G.O.O.D. Music, doing a brief excerpt focusing on sin. That is followed by a slower success story song, “The One,” produced by Kanye West which features himself, Big Sean and 2 Chainz. West and Big Sean shine in the song, as they both showcase their skills, and 2 Chainz, completely out of his element, shows promise as he steps out of his usual subject matter.
An artist who was expected to make many appearances on the album was Kid Cudi, but it is not until the second to last track that Cudi fans truly get their fix. Cudi has a track by himself, “Creepers,” an energetic song that reminds listeners of a simpler Kid Cudi. The song would be a stand out on any of Cudi’s solo albums.
The album ends with a duet featuring John Legend and Teyana Taylor which both of them flourish on. Though his credits cannot be seen in the feature spots, producer Hit-Boy puts his mark on Cruel Summer producing multiple tracks with West.
Keeping in mind that this is a compilation album, Cruel Summer should be received as a success. Album standouts include “New God Flow,” “The Morning” and “Sin City.”
Kanye West achieves something with “Cruel Summer” that the hip-hop community is just starting to catch up to. He is surrounding himself with other artists who are constantly pushing each other to create better music without getting comfortable for too long. With hip-hop changing to a group-heavy culture, it is safe to assume that G.O.O.D. Music is here to stay.