Island / Def Jam // “…it’s is a great collection of songs and not so much a cohesive album”
When Kanye West presents Good Music Cruel Summer first dropped and with it being so weirdly labeled (Various Artists) and titled, I had assumed that it was merely a compilation album. I thought Kanye West had put together a selection of his favorite summer jams and released it. Well he has, kind of, BUT Kanye West has also recorded, produced and been involved with most of the tracks in some way or other. It’s kind of like saying “hey, here is a compilation of stuff I have been involved with” instead of piecing one together from stuff that already exists and that Kanye West digs on, as usually happens. As such, I kind of missed this release when it first dropped, with me deciding to listen to it a few weeks later anyways. My thought process was, “I love Kanye West’s work so in theory if his name is in the title it would be worth it right?” And yes it most definitely was worth listening to it.
Kanye West presents Good Music Cruel Summer is in reality a new Kanye West album that he has worked on with a whole posse of people instead of just doing it himself or best buddy Jay-Z only. I’m not sure, but I would imagine half of the people involved also wrote and co-wrote a bunch of these tracks with some of them being originally by themselves, making it a truly original hip-hop collective.
It all begins with “To The World” which kind of weirdly sounds like it would have worked at the end of the album equally aswell too. R.Kelly actually sounds good in “To The World” singing the hook “..to the world” over and over, instructing us to “put your middle fingers up” to which I obviously complied! Teyana Taylor‘s voice is a nice contrast whilst Kanye‘s rap is pure classic, “don’t give a fuck” style, declaring that “R.Kelly and the god of rap, shitting on you…Holy Crap!” in a clever double entendre way, clearly relating to R.Kelly‘s rather littered sexual background.
“Clique” follows with James Fauntleroy singing:
What of the dollar you murdered for? // Is that the one fighting for your soul? // Or your brother’s the one that you’re running from? // But if you got money, fuck it, cause I want some
“Clique” then proceeds into what is potentially the best song on Kanye West presents Good Music Cruel Summer and one of the most swagged out beats I have heard in quite a while. Big Sean, Kanye West and Jay-Z each take full advantage of the aforementioned beat swagger forced upon them. “Clique” is so good that I featured it as an AltSounds Tune of the Day last week. The more you listen to “Clique“, the more you will love it. “Mercy.1” is possibly the second best track on Kanye West presents Good Music Cruel Summer, starting with a slowed down vocal and leading into a more “dirty south” vibed track. It is during “Mercy.1” that I realize that Kanye West is going to be showcasing a wider array of Hip-Hop than he normally would on Kanye West presents Good Music Cruel Summer. “Mercy.1” has some really cool singing / sample parts and rap wise, the highlight of “Mercy.1” for me is when 2 Chainz slams his verse in, stating:
“I’m drunk and high at the same time, drinking champagne on the airplane”
The rest of 2 Chainz‘s verse continues much the same. Poetry it is not, but the way 2 Chainz spits it with his attack and accent just does something for me. “Mercy.1” also highlights one of the many recurrent themes throughout Kanye West presents Good Music Cruel Summer, the track being about nothing other than being rich as fuck and referencing their favorite ride of choice, the Lamborghini Murciélago.
“New God Flow.1” is a great track if you don’t listen to the lyrics. For whatever reason, hearing all of these guys (Kanye West, Pusha T and Ghostface Killah) declaring that they have the “new god flow” and hinting that they all feel they are Gods on earth really grates at me; Pusha T declaring:
“I believe there’s a god above me, I’m just the god of everything else”
Every time “New God Flow.1” plays I hate it when it starts and love it by the end. “New God Flow.1” introduces the second recurring theme throughout and that is how these guys feel like gods. Confident much?! Ghostface Killah’s approach is probably the best on “New God Flow.1” where he cockily states that he has “soccer moms paying for cock, Asian’s get it from behind while their cleaning their woks!”
“The Morning” starts with some awesome Ragga singing courtesy of D’Banj that reminds me a little of Rusko‘s use of Ragga in his dubstep productions. “The Morning” is again another brilliant start to a song that gets topped this time when the actual beat drops. On listening to “The Morning” about 50-100 times I would probably say that “The Morning” is a better beat than “Clique” in a non commercial sense. Common‘s verse is by far my favorite on “The Morning” and he is a welcome addition to the song. It’s rare for Common to spit on a record these days with his successful acting career hitting off strong. I love the “dirty south” vibe of the beat on “The Morning,” I also love how many people feature on it, with D’Banj, Raekwon, Common, Pusha T, 2 Chainz, CyHi da Prynce, Kanye West and Kid Cudi all offering themselves for pieces on the track. Kanye West‘s outro rap blends seamlessly into “Cold.1,” whose beat is the most unique on Kanye West presents Good Music Cruel Summer. This is probably due to DJ Khaled‘s input. I also like that “Cold.1″ is the one song on the album that is mainly only Kanye West from a rap perspective with him cockily asking:
“Can a young nigga get money any more // Tell PETA my mink is hanging on the floor”
Harsh but said with enough swagger to back it up somehow (and that is coming from a Vegan). Probably doesn’t help the cause with the people that already think Kanye West is cocky, but definitely adds more fuel to the fire! I love all the callouts at the end of “Cold.1″ to Chicago neighborhoods, gives a nice little hometown vibe.
“Higher” showcases the first use of autotune so far on Kanye West presents Good Music Cruel Summer and for me it is about time. Particularly with The Dream‘s usage. It really adds to “Higher” and goes hand in hand with the vibe and beat. “Higher” is their homage to weed, with the chorus declaring “we buzzing yeah… higher than a motherfucker”. It’s a sick tune that is made all the better when MaSe‘s voice drops on the track and pays homage back to the P.Diddy track “Mo Money Mo Problems“. For those that didn’t know MaSe had given up rap to become a preacher so, much like the presence of Common on Kanye West presents Good Music Cruel Summer and, whilst equally as short in their presence, it is still much welcomed.
“Sin City” has Travis Scott providing an awesome vibed verse and, “Sin City” is one of the first tracks on Kanye West presents Good Music Cruel Summer that feels more about real life that people can relate to… more so than “god flow”, lambo’s” and “money” anyways! Teyana Taylor and John Legend offer singing parts that are both really great and also help give the track an uplifting gospel vibe. CyHi da Prynce also does a cracking verse with Malik Yusef‘s slowed down vocals adding a more scary feel to proceedings. “The One” is one of the most R&B track on Kanye West presents Good Music Cruel Summer. Slower than most of the tracks that preceded it “The One” gives a nice respite from what has so far been a very hard hitting and aggressive album.
“Creepers” is the clanger and changer of the album. The chorus of “Creepers” is sung so horrifically, it is made abundantly clear why rappers took so much to auto tune in the first place! “Creepers” is also the track that ruins the entire flow of Kanye West presents Good Music Cruel Summer for me. Every single time I listen to Kanye West presents Good Music Cruel Summer, I skip “Creepers” and it stops it from being a really great album for me. “Bliss” thankfully recovers a bit for this with the most awesome, sweeney synth line of the album (ever?!) and some ace double kick drum patterns. “Bliss” is another R&B tinged track and is the most singing oriented on Kanye West presents Good Music Cruel Summer. As much as I am enjoying the album, I can’t help wishing Kanye West had the foresight to drop “Creepers” from the album because, it literally just messed everything up for me.
After an album full of sentiments about all of the things that these guys like, final track “Don’t Like.1” does the exact opposite and declares all the things that they hate instead. It’s a nice change and is the hardest beat on the album, with clickety clacking hi-hats that Lil Wayne might have wished he had in one of his tracks. As the chorus repeats “that’s that shit I don’t like,” Kanye West presents Good Music Cruel Summer ends rather too abruptly for me… quite literally with the album dropping out.
In conclusion Kanye West presents Good Music Cruel Summer is a great album, but it is most definitely just a collection of songs and not so much a cohesive album. Some of the song choices depict that feeling I get, as does the out of place ending track. Kanye West presents Good Music Cruel Summer is good and has introduced me to some people I didn’t already know, but Kanye West presents Good Music Cruel Summer s definitely no Watch the Throne and is far off My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy.