Marcus Reviews Cruel Summer

15 Sep

To The World feat R. Kelly: We start out this highly anticipated album with R. Kelly singing like his life depended on his vocal performance for the first half of the track before Kanye comes in and delivers one of his better verses in recent memory (even switches up his flow and uses a rhyme scheme that I’ve never heard him use before). The people that have heard this track have been split on Kelly’s presence on the track but I for one actually really dug him on it and really felt like he matched the triumphant beat, produced by Hudson Mohawke & Ye, really well. Ye’s known for having great intro tracks to his albums and this one is no different. (4.5/5)


 Clique feat Jay-Z: Since this is one of the 4 singles off of the album released for mass consumption, by now a majority of you have already heard this but I’ll give my two cents anyway. From the get go we’re greeted by the extremely talented & criminally underrated, James Fauntleroy, who gets his Justin Vernon on and does a small but dope intro which sets the stage for Sean, Jay & Kanye to effectly “stunt on these niggas” if you will over Hit-Boy’s minimalistic groove. All of them come correct but if I had to say who stood out most it was definitely Kanye who mixes braggadocio & honest emotion like only he can in his second consecutive strong verse on the album. This track is a certifiable banger and is best heard in a car with good speakers, you’ll be feeling like a million dollars in a hoopty. (4/5)


Mercy: We’ve all heard it, it’s dope as hell and I still haven’t gotten tired of it. If it’s not the catchiest hook of 2012 then it’s definitely in the top 5. (4.25/5)


New God Flow feat Ghostface Killah: The 3rd single that was released off of the album but with last minute but welcomed addition for the album. We’ve all heard the original with Pusha T & Kanye rapping like men possessed over one of Kanye’s rawest beats in recent memory but then instead of the awkward outro on the original the beat changes The God MC, Ghostface Killah aka Mr. Tony Stark comes in and proceeds to body both Kanye & Pusha on the track! I, for one, have always loved it when Ye collabs with the Wu and I really hope they continue because they haven’t done a whack track together yet. Definitely in the top 3 tracks on the album. (5/5)

The Morning feat Raekwon: In my personal opinion this is the coldest track in the album and easily one of the illest hip-hop cuts to drop this year. Over a grimey, bass heavy instrumental by Kanye & !Illmind; Raekwon, Common, Pusha, Cyhi & even 2 Chainz spit flames cypher style with an equally grimey chorus that I believe is provided by D’Banj. This is my most replayed track on the album & the only real flaw is Ye’s half-assed verse at the end where he reuses some of his bars from New God Flow. If Big Sean & Kid Cudi would’ve hopped on it and Kanye would’ve brought a legit verse this could’ve been the posse cut of the album. Nonetheless this track is a heatrock. (4.75/5)


Cold: Ironically the next track after the coldest song on the album happens to literally be “Cold”. Once again this is a track that we’ve all heard and personally it’s a song that I’ve never really liked much. While I dig Kanye’s intensity & reckless abandon on the track, the bars are subpar and the beat is kind of annoying. It always felt like a bonus cut at best and so to see it on the album, especially when it’s supposed to be a group album, is upsetting to say the least. It’s the first completely skippable song on the album in my eyes. I’d probably still get hype if I heard it in a club though. (2.5/5)


Higher feat The-Dream, Ma$e & James Fauntleroy: Over a sinister Hit-Boy beat reminiscent of Jay-Z’s “Justify My Thug”, Push brings out the cocaine bars that he became famous for while Ma$e mumbles his way through a forgettable verse, The-Dream handles the chorus & James Fauntleroy comes in for the outro. This was a song that I didn’t vibe with much at first because I’m not really a fan of The-Dream’s voice & I frankly could’ve done without Ma$e being on the track but after a while the track grew on me. The beat, the outro & Pusha’s presence saved this track for me. I can’t help but feel as if this should’ve been saved for Pusha’s solo album though. (3.5/5)

Sin City feat Travi$ Scott & Malik Yusef: In a display of smart track placement, Higher seamlessly transitions into this next track as if they were two parts of one long song. Up-and-coming Rapper/Producer Travi$ Scott comes through and provides another fittingly sinister beat, that would’ve fit perfectly on MBDTF, as well as the solid first verse. Teyana Taylor lays down some nice vocals on the chorus of the song while longtime G.O.O.D. affiliate, Rapper/Poet Malik Yusef does some spoken word in between verse. Ultimately Cyhi The Prynce owns the track as he brings out his signature blend of wit & wordplay and drops one of the strongest verses of the album. While the spoken word sections are a tad bit corny to me, this is a solid track overall that really serves it’s purpose of showcasing a young newcomer & G.O.O.D.’s most underutilized rapper well. (3.75/5)


The One feat Marsha Ambrosius & James Fauntleroy: This track debuted months ago in the form of one of four snippets that were leaked from the Cruel Summer film that was made to accompany the album. Marsha Ambrosius opens the track with a rousing chorus as snare drums out of a college band drum line & epic synths explode in the background and turn this track into a militant war cry of sorts. Big Sean, 2 Chainz & Kanye drop some solid verses with a mixture of uplifting, braggadocious and at times funny (Kanye’s Scott Disick line made me chuckle) lyrics but it’s the beat & Marsha’s epic chorus that shine her. If I could compare this track to anything it’d be Lift Off from Watch The Throne except the verses on this weren’t utterly terrible. One of the stronger tracks of the album and I wouldn’t be the least bit surprised if it ended up being the next single. This is one for the stadiums. (3.75/5)


Creepers: Over a atmospheric beat by Dan Black, Cudi raps/rambles/mumbles about…well nothing at all. He just kind of goes off on this melodic rant about seemingly whatever comes to his mind in the moment. It’s really erractic, jarring & a tad bit uncomfortable to listen to (Though he does drop a hilarious line about his only wish would be to have more wishes). It’s grown on me a tad bit with multiple listen but it’s still an extremely strange song that really has no business being on this album because it’s totally out of place. If not for the beat this would be a total mess. (2/5)


Bliss: *Kat Williams voice* Now this song right here! THIS SONG RIGHT HERE NIGGA! This is that top down in the summer, driving down the coast type music. Over a sweeping synth heavy beat straight out of the early 80s (once again provided by Hudson Mohawke), Teyana Taylor & John Legend get their R&B on and bring some elegance to this album when it greatly needs it. There were moments where I kind of wished there was a rap verse on it but it does just fine on it’s own. John Legend was criminally underused on this album and this song almost makes up for his absence. Definitely in the top 3 strongest songs on the album. (5/5)

I Don’t Like (Remix) feat Chief Keef & Jadakiss: Another song that we’ve all heard but a song that has no business being on this album at all, let alone being the album closer. Now when this song was released for G.O.O.D. Friday I was fine with it. It’s a fun track and did a good job at building hype for the album but I always viewed as a giveaway and nothing more so it’s placement on the album puzzles & honestly frustrates me. By putting this song on the album it almost makes it feel a bit like a mixtape because it’s not like they were sampling the song, it’s a full out remix of a song that wasn’t even done by someone on the label. This is by far worst album closer that’s ever been on an album that Kanye’s been associated with. (2.5/5)


Overall/Closing Statements:


Cruel Summer is a frustrating album. Frustrating not because it’s bad, but because it should’ve been so much better than it actually turned out to be. While there were some moments of sheer brilliance on this album there were also moments that baffled me and left me wondering if they even tried. For every moment where this album rises to the occasion, there are others where it feels more like an expensive mixtape than a group album. The production is fantastic for the most part (which is to be expected at this point) but lyrically it’s hit & miss throughout and the album is severely lacking in subject matter, which for an group the caliber of GOOD Music, is kind of unacceptable. For a man who’s notorious for being a perfectionist, I’m honestly shocked at how Kanye let this album seem so thrown together for the most part. Also this album says it’s a GOOD Music album but aside from Big Sean, Pusha T & Kanye, all of the other members are either on one song or not on the album at all (where’s Mr. Hudson, Mos Def & Q-Tip in all of this?). Say what you will about Maybach Music Group but they know how to utilize all of their artists properly, which is a notion that GOOD seems to still be figuring out how to do. I’m not saying this to say that it’s a terrible album because it’s solid, but after all of the hype, speculation & mystery surrounding this highly anticipated project the payoff left me as a fan feeling jipped. I really wish I could give this album the benefit of the doubt but when I really think about it, I just can’t because at this point I expect the better from Kanye and his label mates (especially from Ye). The only thing truly cruel about this album is the bittersweet taste it leaves in your mouth. Nevertheless I’m sure that the masses will eat this album up when it drops but I for one will be sitting here waiting for Kanye’s 6th solo album so he can silence any doubts in my head about him getting a little too comfortable at the top.


Rating: 3.5/5


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