The Score: "[On 'Cruel Summer' Kanye West] Plays The Part Of A Party-Hardy Star Mag Celebrity & Raps About F*cking Your Girlfriend In His Expensive Car"

Tuesday, Sep 18, 2012 2:15PM

Written by Cyrus Langhorne

THE SCORE
THE SCORE 8/10
Buy Now
  • Cruel Summer
  • Kanye West
  • September 18, 2012
Idolator 3.5/5
Policy Mic 8.5/10
Death & Taxes 4.5/5
Newsday 8.5/10
RedEye Chicago 3.5/4

It's been months and months in the making but Kanye West's long-awaited G.O.O.D. Music Cruel Summer compilation has finally arrived on retail stores nationwide today.

For his newest retail project, Kanye West leaves 2010's My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy and 2011's Watch the Throne tales behind and injects new vibes by rounding up his G.O.O.D. Music family.

It's not surprising that giving one Kanye all that power results in a generally successful album. What's surprising is the way Cruel Summer succeeds. On My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy and Watch The Throne, bigger was always better. Here, the most entertaining tracks are the minimalist ones, and it's once you dig into the seemingly grand songs that they crumble under the weight of Kanye's self-indulgence. But as West challenges on "Cold": "If you can do it better than me, then you do it." The man has a point. (Idolator)

More than ever, Mr. West relies heavily on guest features to pack the LP.

There are 22 artists featured on the disc -- a veritable "something for everyone." Hip-hop heads were amped when Wu-Tang giants Raekwon and Ghostface first appeared on the Cruel Summer tracklists floating around the internet, and Top-40 fans are sure to be pleased by the inclusion of buzzy young stars like Big Sean and genre mainstays like Jay-Z. It's inspiring to see West continue to highlight those who supported him: Grammy-winning songwriter Malik Yusef (one of the folks behind "All of the Lights") and young vocalist Teyana Taylor (you've unknowingly heard her on "Dark Fantasy" and "Hell of a Life") are also featured on Cruel Summer. It's a narrative not often seen in the media -- where lazy tales of Kanye's sometimes erratic behavior dominate headlines for weeks -- but it's clear to anyone paying attention to music that West not only cares deeply about production quality, but about those around him. (Huffington Post)

Yeezy uses Cruel Summer to flaunt more laid back rhymes rather than conscious tracks some fans have grown used to expecting.

And he doesn't apply himself here. Here, he plays the part of a party-hardy Star Magazine celebrity and raps about f*cking your girlfriend in his expensive car. That shouldn't work. He's like an R-rated mid-90?s Will Smith. But it works. It totally works. And it's awesome. Which is the scary part. If he sounds this good when he's slacking off and playing a stock character, what's he going to sound like when he applies himself for a full album again? (Death & Taxes)

The new LP, packed with guest spots, gives particular shine to the growth of G.O.O.D. Music members including Big Sean and affiliate 2 Chainz.

The real stars of this album are the G.O.O.D. young bloods: 2 Chainz, D'Banj, and Teyena Taylor. Taylor shows off her stellar pipes in "Sin City," as does D'Banj in "The Morning." While 2 Chainz shows he has the chops to roll with the big dogs in "The One" and "Mercy," in terms of rapping skills, it's Big Sean who comes out on top. Big Sean is quickly becoming one of G.O.O.D.'s most talented assets, and he continues to impress by dropping easily the best verses on "Mercy," "The One," and "Clique" (yes, over Jay-Z). His flow is dynamic, his lyrics fresh, and his attitude immature but terribly endearing. (Policy Mic)

Most critics found little flaws with the group effort, suggesting it nearly missed being a classic and having one too many collaborations.

The strength of "Cruel Summer" (G.O.O.D. Music) -- the compilation from Kanye West's label and his stable of artists -- is also its weakness. When set against the flashes of brilliance, usually from West, the rest of the music seems blander than it really is. Take the thrilling "New God Flow," where West sets up "Picture working so hard and you can't cut through" before outlining the problems of his beloved Chicago like a political scientist, only in rhyme. The power gets sapped by tacking on a self-promotional, military-styled call-and-response. There's no doubt that the G.O.O.D. Music crew is good, but "Cruel Summer" too often falls short of great. (Newsday)
What sucks: *You've already heard half of the album: Out of 12 songs, 5 have already been released as singles/videos. That's kind of ridiculous and diminishes the excitement. *The G.O.O.D Music B-Team: Singer Teyana Taylor adds nothing to the album, and verses by CyHi Da Prynce and Common get overshadowed. *Ma$e's verse on the song "Higher": Let It be known that I love Ma$e. Which is why I can say that his mumbled return verse is beyond disappointing. Sigh. (RedEye Chicago)

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