Updated: Apr 23, 2020
As Kanye season continues, we go to 2012's project 'Cruel Summer' as Kanye West decided to try show off the talent of his label G.O.O.D. Music by releasing a project with contributions from everyone within the label as well as those closely associated with it such as Jay-Z and Travis Scott. This album had a lot to live up to, so it's time to see whether it lived up to the hype. Firstly, Kanye is usually known for his incredible production - and on this album there are many great beats and overall it's very good, it just doesn't reach the incredible heights of other Ye projects. The main instruments on this album are the classic drums, a piano occasionally and the use of synths, whether it be distorted for the bass or whether it be a synth keyboard - they're everywhere. There's a lot of quality on show at G.O.O.D. Music, and they are (on a whole) decent at what they do. You'll find them giving us funny punchlines and bars throughout for the most part - with the standout ones being Kanye West (no surprise), Pusha T and at times Big Sean. There are absolutely loads of features scattered around this project, and their performances are mixed. A few bring nothing, a few do great - but when reflecting back on it I wouldn't say the features took the attention away from the Ye proteges which was important and the vast majority of them bought something to the table. They may have stole the show on a few tracks, but we left hearing enough of the G.O.O.D. Music crew to know their strengths and weaknesses. With so many names connected to this project, you wouldn't expect a lot of cohesion and the subject matter is pretty much about everything. Despite this, we don't get a lot of substance and certain rappers bring a common topic with them such as Kanye talking about his success, Pusha talking about drugs and Sean rapping about sex.
The opening track to this project is 'To the Word' which starts Kanye West and Teyana Taylor while featuring R Kelly. R Kelly, as much of a nonce as he is, is great on this track and his vocals make for an inviting yet catchy hook. Ye does his thing over some great sounding drums and the whole idea of the song really is fuck the world - it's a strong start to the project. The track 'Clique' is a banger with a great synth bass making a mwoab sound (please say you understand what I'm on about) partnered by drums & claps giving it a triumphant feel. Big Sean's verse is decent but his hook despite the simplicity is very catchy, and it helps that he hit it on the kick of the beat everytime. Kanye has decent bars and gives us a solid verse while JAY-Z (the feature) has a great flow & delivery as he provides us another enjoyable verse. 'Mercy' has an eerie piano creating a bit of a groove (despite it not being my favourite beat) but the issue with this song is how long it goes on for. Big Sean has some pretty funny ass wordplay and a decent verse as does Kanye and Pusha but again, I get tired by the time we get to 2 Chainz's verse because of how long it goes on for. 'New God Flow' is another highlight on the album which has both Pusha T and Kanye West and features Ghostface Killah from the Wu-Tang Clan. The beat is nice while Pusha talks on his role in G.O.O.D. Music and dissing the whole Young Money crew (going hard in the process). Ye's verse has some great wordplay with the key themes of black injustice and religion, while GFK's feature has some great punchlines and wordplay - I just expected that little bit more but he's still fine, especially his flow and delivery.
'The Morning' is again, decent but not top tier on this album. The synth keyboard and drum patterns are a bit simplistic but go hard until the point it feels repetitive. As for performances, Common's is short but sweet, Kanye is meh, Pusha is solid, Prince is the highlight with great wordplay and punchlines, "Can't wait to get that black American Express // So I can show them white folks how to really pull the race card", while Cudi's vocals are nice on the bridge. Raekwon slots in nicely too as the rappers talk on religious themes and appear to be dismissing beliefs they belong to the Illuminati. 'Cold' is one of the only solo songs on here by Kanye West because I still don't know what DJ Khaled even does. The electronic, sci-fi synths are similar to the last beat and I couldn't even tell the song had changed, despite that Ye is as braggy and confident as ever in his lyrics. It isn't a bad song, but compared to the last few songs it doesn't do anything to stand out. Once again, 'Higher' is a good track but nothing too crazy. The beat is decent, with a more slow style partnered by stabbing menacing synths while everybody does a fine job over it. The only verse I wasn't too keen on this track was MA$E's - other than that everybody did fine. 'Sin City' again has a crazy beat while everybody puts a shift in - but it again is good not great. This track takes more of a dark theme, and I enjoy listening to it, it just fails to make a lasting impact or make me want to come back.
'The One' is a real highlight on this album, as everybody on it flexes and talks about making it successfully. Despite the hook sounding like a YouTube type beat inbuilt hook - Marsha absolutely killed it with her vocals. The beat is slower, the piano and drums clash to create a hard yet slightly melancholy beat. Kid Cudi is the sole artist on 'Creepers' and his vocals kill the hook despite me not being crazy on the verse. The beat works, but the claps sound a bit cheap - despite that it's definitely not a skip. 'Bliss' takes a more pop R&B route - but that isn't really my preferred style. Despite this, the electric guitar and synths give the beat a triumphant feeling to the song and I do quite enjoy it despite it not really being my kind of music. The album finishes with the explosive 'Don't Like' which is a remix to Chief Keef's original which I love. Everybody on the verses do brilliantly - ironically it's Keef's verse I don't feel because he doesn't come with the energy it should, but the hook is still killer from Keef. It's a brilliant remix, and finishes this album on a high.
To conclude this album, it's literally full of good tracks in fact I'd say there's zero bad songs on this - however there's a lack of standout tracks or proper great tracks. The album shows off the talent on G.O.O.D. Music well, and is an easy listen all the way through. Just a great album overall to listen to.
FAVOURITE TRACKS: To the World, Clique, The One, Creepers, Don't Like
LEAST FAVOURITE TRACK: Higher
OVERALL RATING: Solid 7.5/10
*REVISED SCORE: Review may not match favourite tracks and overall rating because I've since re-listened and changed my score.*