G.O.O.D. Music's Cruel Summer: A First Listen

Categories: First Listens

Kanye West has officially become the bad guy, people. He's rich, he's rude, he's entitled, he's a rock 'n' roll legend who's awaiting a legit artistic backlash any year now, and he's also a smart businessperson. After Taylor Swift-gate and record sales of his third Pazz & Jop-winning "masterpiece" forced him to take sanctuary in Katy Perry financially, he knows he should lay (relatively) low for a minute. So while I (we?) loved all six of his albums, it's time to back off and let his crew do the talking a little. Too bad they're not as good at it -- hopefully Jay-Z and Ghostface's names in these too-long-for-Winamp artist credits will balance out Big Sean et al.

"To the World"

A beauteous start, with R. Kelly over digitally crumbling pizzicatos stuttering out a melody that appears to go on as long as Pi in decimal form. Kanye's first word is "hmm?" a tic that's now as familiar as Michael Jackson's "sham on." But the boasts are running on fumes: "Picture Rick James tonight/ I don't give a fuck," "Mitt Romney/ I don't pay no tax," and the not-Wayne-level "R. Kelly and the god of rap/ Shittin' on you/ holy crap." Proof that money can't buy cleverness.


Having winced at Big Sean's hook when this song first dropped (say it with me ad nauseum: "CLIQUE CLIQUE CLIQUE CLIQUE CLIQUE," arrgh), I suppose I'll take this opportunity to notice the mildly ghostly beat. Sean employs an annoying post-Drake cadence, and the operatic (synthesized?) vocals on the chorus still sound more silly than ominous. Jay-Z sounds as graceful as any athlete bobbing and weaving through his verse (even though I didn't remember a thing from it). Meanwhile, Yeezy provides a new twist on Chris Rock's bit on the differences between "wealthy" and "rich" ("You know white people/ Get money but don't spend it") that it's hard to tell if he's lamenting or endorsing.


It's quickly becoming apparent there's a joylessness to this album, and part of that has to do with the fallacy where Kanye thought being friends with Rick Ross would find him new ways to have fun. Here he just counts his money over and over on skeletal, readymade beats, which now signify airport lounges and escalators rather than the Dirty South. And these Republican obsessions! "To the World" had Mitt Romney, and here Ye namechecks Sarah Palin. Thinking he's jealous? These guys think they're trying to be funny about only caring about money, but the only funny moment on this track is when the big fancy prog-bridge under Kanye's verse is interrupted by a triumphant yell of "2 Chainz!" and the titular guest brings the tune back to ominous Earth -- if not worse. The dis about how your girl "looks like Precious" is the moment we can finally say Kanye West doesn't care about black people.

"New God Flow"

"I think it's good that Ye gotta blow Dilla" -- did Pusha T just open by bragging that Kanye ripped off the dead legend? Love Clipse, but these guys have no camaderie together -- Kanye never pushed "Duncan Hines," and his villainy's supposed to be theoretical. "Rest in peace to Whitney Houston" is awkward, too. But this is the first track where the raps dominate, where Ye follows up "That could mess up with your whole life like an uncle that touched you" with a rhyme ending in "312." Then the greatest rapper on the premises announces "I've had my Jesus piece since '94" -- Ghostface shows these nervous badasses how to retain charm and imagination while being a total dickhead: "I've got soccer moms paying for cock/ Angels get it from behind while they cleanin' their wok."

"The Morning"

Never thought I'd be sick of Pusha T, but these beats aren't grimy enough for him -- I prefer 2 Chainz' pinched-nose grunting. The weird little reggae breaks sound like they'll grow on me. For the huge amount of familiar crew members on this track, from Common to Raekwon, none of them manage to stand out from that coolly-underneath vibe. I'm prepared to get sick of these single-note synth-bloop beats real quick. None of them are on "Niggas in Paris"' level, except for maybe the next one.


Already one of the best singles of the year and the star's wickedest sarcasm rapping since ..."Barry Bonds"? But you know he's a sellout because it's just not supposed to be called anything but "Theraflu." (Maybe they sued, who knows, could've done better than "Cold" though). Superb growl, excellently disgusted voice and flow, wonderful baits from the headline-making PETA line to the title that leads in a coughed (natch) chant. If only Ye was capable of "motherfuckin' embarrassing" people for non-fashion reasons these days.


This is a trip, with atmosphere snare sound like razorblades on a mirror, a spooky chipmunk voice beat (the ghost of Ye's old productions perhaps?) and Autotuned skank-&-B from The-Dream. Plus Ma$e! His voice sounds great. Also he gets to be the one to mention "Reagan" on this track, plus he ends his verse with a "cham on." No Michael Jackson album was this cleanly uniform though -- when did the rappers become more OCD than the pop stars? Someone named Cocaine 80s takes the track out on a comically grim note a la Lil Wayne's "I Feel Like Dying": "She dying in this motherfucker."

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I Think it's good that Ye got a BLOW DEALER!!!!!!!


I stopped there...


I knew this review was on it's way to the dumps when it began with saying that Pusha took a "shot" at Dilla...umm, he's CLEARLY saying DEALER, referring to Kanye signing him. But it had officially gone deep into the trash when the author fixed his fingers to write Teyana Taylor resembling Kelis...pardon?? Maybe if Kelis lost her range and years of vocal training and control and suddenly became unaware of keys and confident in being flat, then yes, yes Teyana would be similar. I can't give attention to anything else...Horrible review. No effort or understanding.

WM40A like.author.displayName 1 Like

Time to educate, this one's on the house.


Who the hell asked you to review this, and how much did you get paid to articulately jerk-off over the keyboard while attempting to convince SF readers that you actually listened to this album.


As many have already said "I Think it's good that Ye got a BLOW DEALER".  But see, if you had just listened to the bars before for it --rapgenius.com for people like you to keep people like me from smh at people like you when you talk about hip hop-- , you would have instantly picked up the dope dealer references by  Pusha basically stating people didn't think he'd fit in with the G.O.O.D Music family. Hence the "fit with the umbrella" line.


But beyond that, your disdain towards the Hit-boy produced "Clique" is even more of a cluster fock of worthless opinions.  Clearly, YOU DON'T KNOW HIP-HOP.  While I admit the hook is annoying, there is no shaming the beat.  As a matter of fact, where have you been all summer?  Shaming Cold, Mercy, Clique, or New God Flow is simply asinine.  Those tracks are why people couldn't wait to get their greasy paws on this album.


"These beats aren't Grimey enough for him".  Really?  How is New God Flow not grimey enough, with a sample of Ghostfaces "Mighty Healthy"  When has sampling Wu ever been deemed grime-less.  And I guess you just really needed to drop a "It's not as good as NIP" line? 


Every comment in this review is a backhanded statement that in return deserved a backhand to the face.  Kanye opened up room on what is clearly a Soundtrack more than a Compilation album for his family to shine.  Hell he even invited Ma$e and Kellz to the party; terrible choices on his part, imo.  But to shade everything about this album....scratch that.  To review this album off of one listen is your editor's fault.  He should of never gave you n***** money, for this one. 


I can sum how I truly feel about you and any future hip hop reviews you do all up with one grime lacking Pusha line: "Fock em Ye, Fock em Ye.  I wouldn't piss on these n***** with Grand Marnier"


i think cruel summer is solid for a crew album...even though the crew comes off sounding decent at best. they're easily outshined by guest stars. mase though, damn he's rusty....

the cd has elements of early kanye which have been missed.

overall this cd begs the question: who else is out there making relevant hip-hop music?

i agree with author: i saw drake & maybach music crew at made in america.....it's not them. 

Where's wayne lately?

ultimately would rather see kanye break off with ghostface, raekwon or jada and produce one of their new solo albums.....

ComeOnNow like.author.displayName 1 Like

"I think it's good that Ye got a blow dealer," you idiot.

schurgy like.author.displayName 1 Like

This is just a god awful review. Extremely biased. Many of the lyrics you discredit are much more complex than you take the time to realize.


I remember my first beer.

Alex like.author.displayName 1 Like

Listen to the album again. Ghostface says "Asian girls" not "Angels"... hence the wok. Come on, man.


 @Alex exactly. what relationship is there between an angel and a wok again?

balla like.author.displayName 1 Like

the blow dilla mistake ruins any bit of credibility in this reiew, its "blow dealer"

mr.sketch99 like.author.displayName 1 Like

Holy wow, what a terrible review. You need to give this a second listen.

59TAA like.author.displayName 1 Like

"The whole world is a couch, bitch I'm rick james tonight. I don't give a fuck."  a reference to the rick james Chapelle Show skit. terrible review.


Also, this is just a terrible review all around. 


"I think it's good that 'Ye got a blow dealer" - as in, Pusha is an ex-drug dealer. Maybe on a second listen you'd pick that up. 

danweissisadouche like.author.displayName 1 Like

Unanimous agreement: Dan Weiss is an idiot. "Hate, hate, hate!" That's another reference to the Chappelle Show, Dan. That's a show on TV. Welcome to the 21st century. On a grand scale, you're not that late. 

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