For many, it often seems like a love or hate relationship with Kanye West and his music. But while the release of his newest LP “Cruel Summer” still holds true to the rapper’s artistry, the album evokes neither love nor hate.
Always trying to set the bar higher, West pumps out the first music compilation under his record label G.O.O.D. Music, featuring a total of 22 artists including names like Jay-Z, Common, Big Sean, CyHi Da Prynce and John Legend.
West has largely kept to the standards set by “My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy” and “Watch the Throne.” Even so, his 12-track LP is surprisingly average with no bangs and little fanfare unlike his previous works.
Make no mistake, the album is still a collaboration and not a solo work, although West’s signature lyricism is distinct throughout.
The first track titled “To The World” couldn’t be more appropriate for the album as it clearly echoes West’s mantra of doing it big and with middle fingers high up in the air. R. Kelly also lends his vocals in the three-and-a-half-minute song, which is paced by distant drums and muted synths.
In “New God Flow,” Pusha T humbly (but not really) declares that “I believe there’s a god above me/ I’m just the god of everything else” while West drops rhymes like “Way too cold, I promise you’ll need some Theraflu” in “Cold.” In many ways, the self-crafted lyrics highlight an amusing overconfidence with blatant lyrics that dare the non-believers to test true talent.
Each song that follows on the album carries a distinctive sound and brings in various instruments in addition to wide-ranging vocal talents. “Clique” follows a faster rhythm paced by droning background synths in contrast with “The One,” which opens with former Floetry member, Marsha Ambrosius, delivering the opening hook with her resonating alto soul accompanied by the familiar drumming of distant percussions and piano interludes.
Above all, the album demonstrates how a compilation should sound like, with all of the artists cohesively blending their musical styles in a seamless manner without overpowering one another. John Legend keeps his brassy jazz voice in the “Sin City” collaboration with CyHi Da Prynce, Travis Scott, Teyana Taylor and Malik Yusef, just as Kid Cudi maintains his lyrical rap while working with Pusha T and Common, among other artists, in “The Morning.”
Judgement of his character aside, West produces a successful-enough first compilation “Cruel Summer” under his label G.O.O.D. Music, not amazing but not terrible.