Cruel Summer (Album Review)

Well, after listening to the album about 7 times, I am ready to give my review of G.O.O.D Music’s compilation album, Cruel Summer. Regardless of the fact that G.O.O.D is the crew I rep the hardest, my opinion is completely unbiased. Here goes.

Favorite Tracks: 

  • Sin City (John Legend, Travi$ Scott, Teyana Taylor, CyHi Da Prynce & Malik Yusef)
  • New God Flow (Kanye West & Pusha T) (feat. Ghostface Killah)
  • The Morning (Pusha T, Common, 2 Chainz, CyHi Da Prynce, Kid Cudi & D’Banj) (feat. Raekwon)
  • Higher (Pusha T) (feat. The-Dream & Ma$e)

Underwhelming Tracks:

  • Creepers (Kid Cudi)

I will address this review in three main sections: G.O.O.D Artists, Features, and Other.

G.O.O.D Artists:

Kanye West- Kanye was all over this album, as he should have been. He rapped in 8 tracks and added background vocals to at least two more. Lyrically, he could have done better, but I personally always hope he will reach The College Dropout and Late Registration lyricism again. This is not to say he didn’t come hard. His verse in “New God Flow” holds the top position, but there are some decent lines in “The One” and “Clique”. The thing about Kanye’s lyrics now are that they’re hard to relate to. I don’t have the money to ‘buy 80 gold chains and go ignant’. Back in the day, though, I did know what it was like to be around 79th and May and to feel the emotion he spit in “Family Business”. Basically, Kanye did what we expected him to do lyrically. He did a good job of letting his crew shine though.

Pusha T- Pusha T holds it down on 5 tracks and brings the heat with each one. We all know he bodied his verse on “Mercy”, but you shouldn’t forget his bodacious verses on “New God Flow”. Pusha was his usual self on this album: spitting straight fire on each track.

Big Sean- Oh God! That has become one of my new favorite things to say haha. Big Sean stayed true to his nature on this compilation. Most of his verses brought that silly vibe we’re used to. He was full of adlibs and outrageous metaphors. Not too serious on this album, minus a mild reflection on “The One”, but he stayed in his lane.

Kid Cudi- I expected way more from Cudi on this. He had minor vocals on “The Morning” which were unexpected and took away from the song, in my opinion. What we were all wondering, though, was what we would obtain from “Creepers”. His solo track on the compilation was underwhelming. It was closer to tracks from his first two albums than to WZRD, but it wasn’t impressive. It wasn’t a new Cudi, but an old Cudi who was hard to understand.

2 Chainz- 2 Chainz is technically not in G.O.O.D Music, he’s just an affiliate, and that showed on the album. Only 3 verses. “Mercy”, like 8 bars on “The Morning”, and “The One”. We all know he killed “Mercy” in his own way. His portion of “The Morning” was forgettable, but what was most noticeable was how off base he was on “The One”. It’s like he didn’t get the memo on the feel/theme of the song before he wrote his verse. I felt he was an unnecessary addition to the album.

John Legend- John Legend was only around for two tracks, but his presence was felt. His vocals in “Sin City” were a nice balance to Teyana’s and his track with Teyana was wonderful. Legend classed up the album, as expected. I just wish there was more of him.

Teyana Taylor- Teyana had the same role as John, but she took the lead role on the vocals for “Sin City”. She also added some uncredited vocals to the opening track that were definitely needed. Her vocals were great and I think this album will do great to help get her name out there and promote her G.O.O.D debut album whenever it drops.

CyHi Da Prynce- CyHi has been killing tracks for YEARS, but he never got the praise due to him. Well, he showed out on this compilation. His verse on “Sin City” is a standout verse on the album as is his verse on “The Morning”. Hopefully, this will propel him into a larger role for the G.O.O.D team.

Common- Common only had one verse on the compilation, in “The Morning”. It’s a shame he didn’t have more because he murdered his verse. I wish he played a larger role in G.O.O.D in general.

Travi$ Scott- A new member in the G.O.O.D family. He helped produce three tracks on the compilation, mainly “Sin City” where he had the opening verse and did a pretty good job of it. I’m looking forward to more from this Houston native.

D’banj- He provided vocals in just one track of the compilation. He was signed to G.O.O.D back in 2011, but we haven’t heard much of anything from him. I was hoping this compilation would bring more of him…nope.

Malik Yusef- Malik brought the wonderful spoken word to us on “Sin City”, something he’s been doing for Kanye for years. It’s great and there should be more of it.

Yasiin Bey & Mr. Hudson- Nonexistent on the album. Why? No idea. Bad idea? Absolutely.

Features:

R. Kelly- Kels is featured on the opening track, “To The World”, with Kanye. Honestly, what better way to start off your album than with R. Kelly haha? I think R. Kelly had a decent showing. It was vintage Kelly and he didn’t miss a beat.

Jay-Z- Jay-Z’s verse on “Clique” was the typical showboating verses we saw on Watch The Throne. Nothing new; just more of his “It’s just different.” raps.

Ghostface Killah- How often do you have the sampled artist in a song come through and spit a verse? Not often. But Ghostface Killah took his opportunity and crushed it. He added a fiery verse to the “New God Flow” we were all used to. More, please.

Raekwon- Opening verse on “The Morning” and he murdered it. The chef is still in business.

DJ Khaled- No comment…

The-Dream- His vocals weren’t that noticeable…if I hadn’t looked at the tracklist and features, I would have no idea he was on the album. If that’s the case, was there really a need for him?

Ma$e- Another old school feature that delivered. Ma$e laid a verse on “Higher” and provided a nice contrast to Pusha’s verse.

Marsha Ambrosius- She provided some amazing vocals on “The One”. Her voice was an unexpected one, but it fit in perfectly. I would have loved to hear her in more than one song.

Chief Keef- I wish this song didn’t even exist. As much as it bumps in the clubs, radios, whatever, the fame that Chief Keef has garnered from it is something that will affect us all poorly. His verse was just horrible.

Jadakiss- His verse was honestly pretty forgettable. I’m kinda over Jadakiss.

Ok, now it’s time for the Other. I guess I’ll talk about what I didn’t like about the album. Mainly, my problem was that there are about 14 active G.O.O.D artists, but there were only 12 tracks on the album. There are almost that many producers in G.O.O.D! We couldn’t get 5 more songs?! I feel like many artists didn’t get as much shine as they deserved for a compilation album from THEIR crew. Yasiin and Mr. Hudson weren’t even on it and that’s ridiculous. A few features could have been dropped to accommodate the artists in the crew. I think we were robbed to receive 12 tracks, 5 of which we had heard legally before the album released. That’s 7 new tracks. A crew compilation album should feature everyone in the crew and have more songs than members in the crew. I’m just sayin’.

All in all, though, I liked the album. Production was amazing. The beats were SICK. The first 30 seconds of “To The World” made me feel like I could go skin a lion, no lie. And “Sin City”? C’mon now the beat BUMPS. The only beat that didn’t impress me was “Cold”. Shout out to all the producers though. The features were great. It’s awesome that we got to hear verses from Ghostface, Raekwon, AND Ma$e on one album. It was great placement. I know what question you’re thinking, though. Did Cruel Summer live up to the hype? Honestly, no. But, that doesn’t mean a thing. This is an album from Kanye West’s crew. I had high expectations too. Everything regarding anyone from G.O.O.D will have high and, sometimes, unreal expectations. But, Cruel Summer did everything a compilation album should do. It showcased most of the talent of the crew, had excellent production, awesome features, BARS, and club bangers. It was the full package and brought us a new sound at the same time. I definitely got more lyrically and otherwise from this compilation than I got from MMG’s Self Made or Odd Future’s The OF Tape. Not taking shots, just saying.

Last Words: Go buy the album; it’s definitely worth it. Look up CyHi Da Prynce & Teyana Taylor’s solo stuff; you won’t be disappointed. The compilation gets an 8.16 out of 10. As a comparison to a couple other compilations, I gave MMG’s Self Made, Vol. 2 a 7.85 and Odd Future’s The OF Tape: Vol. 2 a 7.11. In G.O.O.D We Trust. Enjoy.

-HB