Posted by: Tiffany Calver (@TiffanyCalver)
After a summer full of snippets and stellar releases, music fans had never found themselves so eager to wave farewell to the sunshine in order to welcome in the cold (perhaps you could say, way too cold) weather. Why? Because the debut album from Kanye West‘s new army of musicians, G.O.O.D. Music, was set to drop: Cruel Summer.
After the hype had reached it’s ultimate peak, following the releases of such anthems as ‘Mercy‘, ‘I Don’t Like‘, ‘Cold‘, ‘New God Flow‘ and an impressive performance at the 2012 BET Awards from the majority of the ‘Clique’, expectations were high for the debut release. But, did it live up to the album we had been anticipating after all? Projected to sell 170,000 to 190,000 albums, we would most certainly hope so.
In a recent viral clip for the album, the leader of the pack, Kanye West, spoke on the new album giving viewers an insight to the theories the group had whilst creating their art:
“We’re making music to create to, music you’re listening to on your way to work so you can deal with your boss, music you can listen to because you’re the boss so you can deal with your employees. We take it really seriously that we make the best product we can but also we’re light with it too.” He said.
Taking note of this theory, I listened to the album on multiple occasions. Travelling to college, to work and whilst I too spent time being creative. You get the idea. I really gave the album the chance to reflect the beliefs West had touched upon in his video. And what did I discover? It captured the mind of Kanye West and his collective of creatives equally, whilst reciprocating the essence of curiosity and difference that the Chicago rapper and producer had always seemed to convey so greatly through his music.
However, containing the appearances from such artists as R.Kelly, Common, Jay-Z, Pusha T, Raekwon, Ghostface Killah, and Ma$e; essentially, the album had the potential to omit a much higher quality of productivity than what was accomplished. Nevertheless, to have so many key members of the hip hop hierarchy is an accomplishment within itself. Fitting the sounds of over 20 musicians onto the 12-track tape.
Producing a group album is a risky decision to make. Although first week sale figures are high, the majority of the time the tracks will often differ from the successful figures. Group compilations often follow a similar pattern, they are dull. The lasting impression will not last long, and therefore the songs are generally easy to forget. Taking this statement into consideration, Cruel summer has surpassed all of its past successors. In comparison to such albums as ‘We Are Young Money’ (yes, I had to google it) and ‘Self Made Vol.2′, the lasting impression is far greater.
But what is it that makes the album so memorable. Personally, I have a few thoughts on the matter. One of the most key ones being the production. You can never fault the production side of a project Kanye West has worked on (don’t quote me on this). Production wise, ‘New God Flow‘ and ‘Clique‘ reign supreme as the best produced tracks on the album. The sound is relatively calm, giving the lyricism the opportunity to be grasped without the distractions (I’m looking at you, ‘Pop That’). However the beat still has the power to pulsate the eardrums of the listener, therefore creating a memorable experience overall.
In his video, Kanye spoke on how the collective would look at the artwork of their album, as well as the concept of their music videos to make sure that each product they put out complimented the other pieces. Overall, I personally found the album to be a consistent body of work. Each track adding something new and rare, yet giving off the same attitude throughout the LP.
My personal favourites would have to be, in no particular order:
Sin City : Featuring the voices of Teyana Taylor, John Legend, CyHi Da Prynce, Malik Yusef and Travis Scott, the song was not short of great vocals and verses. The top verse belonging to CyHi Da Prynce without a doubt, including some top word play. Production wise, it ticks all boxes with elements only comparable to those heard in Kanye’s solo release, ‘808s and Heartbreak‘. Not to forget to mention the recycled use of a sample found in Lana Del Rey‘s track ‘Blue Jeans‘.
To The World: Owner to potentially one of the most empowering hooks of the whole album, Kanye teams up with fellow Chicago representative and R&B superstar R.Kelly to introduce the LP in the correct manner. We hear some killer lines from both parties, especially when Kanye takes it upon himself to expose Mitt Romney in the oh so famous line. Ending with the dreamlike vocals from Teyana Taylor.
Higher: Hit-Boy just has the power to produce such hypnotic and catchy backing music, and The Dream worked his charm over the top of it perfectly. But, of course, Pusha T was the reason I became addicted to this song. Along with the comeback verse from Ma$e. Not one of the most stand-out tracks from the album, but nevertheless an addictive song that will entice you to hit the repeat button.
The Morning: Undoubtedly sitting at the top of my favourites list, The Morning offers us the chance to remember what we loved Wu-Tang Clan for thanks to Raekwon‘s skilful play on words as well as superb delivery from such G.O.O.D. artists as Common, Pusha T and CyHi Da Prynce. We also get to hear D’Banj for a brief period of time. Very brief.
Overall, the album delivered to a high standard. It ticked every box I hoped for, and left me satisfied with the money I had spent. However, I believe that if some of the selected tracks were not released at an earlier date, the overall response from the public would have been a more positive one.
To answer my question at the beginning of this review, perhaps this was not the album fans had been anticipating after all, due to the hype that was created prior to the release of the tape. A lot of people expected more from the troop and were left unsatisfied with what they heard. Nevertheless, this is a debut release from G.O.O.D. music, not Kanye West. To compare it to his previous work would be somewhat unfair due to the fact that this release is to showcase the budding talent under his wing, rather than to showcase the established talent he is now known for.
The album leaves me excited for the future of the collective, and as Jay-Z mentioned in his feature:”It’s the dream team, meets the supreme team.” And by no means necessary do I see another group conquering Kanye’s new Clique.
Reviewed by Tiffany Calver (@TiffanyCalver)
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