“Cruel Summer” takes a fall
Kanye West’s newest albums fails to meet expectations
Published: Wednesday, September 26, 2012
Updated: Wednesday, September 26, 2012 18:09
The latest compilation from Kanye West’s G.O.O.D. Music label, “Cruel Summer,” fails to live up to the standards set by West’s previous solo efforts. For anyone who marveled over the metallic tenor and echoing tribal rhythms of West’s late 2008 album, “808’s and Heartbreak,” don’t get your hopes up. If you liked his “My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy” album, released in Nov. 2010, prepare for a disappointment.
But before you dismiss “Cruel Summer” completely, it’s important to examine the album objectively, meaning without comparing it to West’s solo albums. “Cruel Summer” features a multitude of diverse collaborations. West, who is only featured on seven of the 12 tracks, steps back to share the spotlight with artists like Kid Cudi, Pusha T, John Legend and R. Kelly. This makes for a versatile album with a mix of R&B, hip-hop and rap influences. Most Kanye West enthusiasts and even non-enthusiasts can find at least one track that will be stuck in their heads and at the top of their most recently played lists for the next couple of weeks.
The track “Mercy,” which features Kanye West, Big Sean, Pusha T and 2 Chainz, has an oscillating beat similar to that of Kanye West and Jay Z’s 2011 track “Ni**as in Paris.” Big Sean raps: “Now we out in Paris, yeah I’m Perrierin’ / White girls politicin’ that’s that Sarah Palin.” “Mercy” is a great track if you’re looking for something to dance to, and the lyrics are pretty easy to learn if you want to impress your friends with your rap skills.
The opening track “To the World,” however, is a complete disappointment. Though this song is listed as the most popular track on iTunes, nothing stands out about this track besides the repetitive nature of the chorus, which is basically the words “To the world” repeated: “Let me see you put your middle fingers up/ To the world, to the world, to the world/ To the world, to the world, to the world/ Let me see you put your middle fingers up/ Middle fingers up.”
The song “Click,” though also very repetitive, is slightly more appealing and infinitely easier to dance to. The track has a good rhythm and a fresh beat that will probably be playing at parties everywhere and blasting from open car windows in the months to come.
The track “Bliss,” sung by John Legend and Teyana Taylor, seems to stand out from the other tracks—not necessarily as better, but just as different. This track has clear R&B influences and sounds very similar to Estelle and Kanye West’s 2008 track “American Boy” in both style and lyrics, though it’s not quite as catchy. Teyana Taylor sings: “Ooh baby, the day you stepped into my world / You noticed I’m the kind of girl who loves her diamonds and white pearls / So tempt me to jet set away in London / To sip on some tea, you surprise me with gifts from Tiffany.”
As a whole, the album seems incohesive and many critics, such as Ryan Pearson of the Huffington Post, say it plays like a mix-tape. This mix-tape quality makes the album less memorable, but it also means there is a wide range of tracks and something for everyone. Given West’s past creativity and the summer jams and dance gems found on his other albums, “Cruel Summer” just wasn’t up to par. Indeed, if West had not set such high standards for himself with his past solo albums, “Cruel Summer” might not seem so mediocre in comparison. If you’re looking for something completely new and unconventional from West-—something like his past two solo albums-—you are better off listening to Taylor Swift.