The self-dubbed God of rap is back, and he brought some friends with him. Kanye West dropped his newest album with his newest rap super group, G.O.O.D Music, on Wednesday to anxious fans.
The last time we heard from West, he was rapping alongside Jay-Z for last year’s “Watch the Throne.” That collaboration was a raging success and he’s obviously taken what he learned about teamwork to his new project, “Cruel Summer.”
The album features an all-star cast including Big Sean, 2 Chainz, Kid Cudi and even appearances by Jay-Z himself. Having this many collaborators is both a good thing and a bad thing for “Cruel Summer.” On the plus side, the different artists all bring their own flavor to the songs they are featured on, meaning the album never gets boring. R. Kelly sings the hook for “To the World,” a soaring declaration of supposed indifference to the opinions of the critics. R. Kelly pretty much makes the track, with witty lyrics and his unique vocals. West makes a quick appearance but is overshadowed, for the most part.
West’s short appearances are a theme throughout “Cruel Summer,” to the point that it doesn’t really seem like his album even though he presented it. When he does show up, his raps lack their former power that made hits like “Jesus Walks” and “No Church in the Wild” so poignant. He presents witty lines but everything seems very shallow and distracted.
With that said, “Cruel Summer” is a sick album. Listening to it for the first time is kind of mind blowing, especially if you don’t go in expecting an album of just West’s flavor. It is not the meticulous specimen that College Dropout was, but it still works. The beats in tracks like “Mercy,” “Clique” and “Higher” are hypnotic. Pusha T and Wu Tang Clan’s Gohstface Killah destroy on “New God Flow” which emerges as one of West’s most honest verses on this album.
West focuses on his hometown of Chicago quite a bit throughout the . He raps about the never-ending violence that plagues the city in “New God Flow,” and pledges his allegiance till death do him part in “To the World” while calling out Mitt Romney’s taxes.
West gives a few details on his relationship with reality star Kardashian, but nothing that would actually humanize him or his relationship. Still, those lines are pretty entertaining. He bluntly explains her fame in “Clique” rapping “My girl a superstar all from a home movie” and admits his love for her in “Cold” when he references her ex, Kris Humprhies. That line was amusing, “And I’ll admit I had fell in love with Kim/Around the same time she had fell in love with him/Well that’s cool baby girl do ya thang/lucky I ain’t have Jay drop him from the team,” and other lines in “Cold” are reminiscent of the West lyrics most know and love.
So while this may not be West’s most introspective work, his lyrics are still clever and it still has that Kanye feel about it. The combination of G.O.O.D Music and guests makes this album a must listen. It is no College Dropout but it’s also not the worst that’s been made, and in my humble opinion, it owns every other compilation group making music right now.