G.O.O.D. Music, the label founded by Kanye West, has one of the most diverse talent pools in rap. With this schism comes a lack of cohesiveness on the label’s new compilation Cruel Summer.
Cruel Summer’s 12-track listing includes five songs released before the album dropped. This strategy paid off in spades on West’s last album, My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, which saw exactly the same amount of prior releases in the stellar G.O.O.D. Friday series.
Unlike Cruel Summer, however, the rest of MBDTF’s tracks were just as dazzling as the singles and fit into the album’s overarching theme. West also decided to keep an ace up his sleeve and gave a couple of the singles facelifts for the real deal.
“Mercy,” “Clique,” “New God Flow,” “Cold” and “I Dont Like (Remix)” were all singles before the release and they did not disappoint. The rest of the album’s tracks seem out of sync, as if these five singles were starters training together all summer only to come back and find the rest of the team lazing on the couch.
Mase and The-Dream can’t keep up with Pusha T on “Higher,” and “Sin City” finds Malik Yusef, Travis Scott, Cyhi the Prynce, Teyana Taylor and John Legend all waiting for someone to lead the song. Cudi’s “Creepers” and Legend and Taylor’s “Bliss” aren’t horrible, but they stick out awkwardly next to West’s snarling growl on “Cold” and the street anthem “Don’t Like.”
Wu-Tang Clan members Raekwon and Ghostface Killah, both featured on the album, have immense experience with handling massive posse cuts. Wu boasts nine members and countless affiliates — making almost all their albums essentially a compilation. Even with the veterans in their presence, Big Sean brags “my crew deeper than Wu-Tang,” but not based on this performance.
One of the biggest flaws is the lack of two rap legends, Mos Def (or Yasiin Bey) and Q-tip. Both were brought onto the label, but they have only been on a few G.O.O.D. Friday releases. Why not use these two seasoned veterans on an album where artists such as Cyhi, Taylor, Ambrosius and Nigerian pop singer D’banj are rarely heard?
Compilations are hard because there are so many people involved. West needed to get the voices to come together. Instead it is very clear that there is an A squad and B squad, and the B squad just can’t keep up, making Cruel Summer more of a glorified mixtape than an official album.