Did Kim Kardashian Help Make Kanye West’s Cruel Summer a Dud?
by Alex Antonetz | The Ohio State University
The first line of Pitchfork’s review of Cruel Summer, the posse record from Kanye West’s G.O.O.D. Music label, says the highly anticipated LP “is not Kanye West’s record.” Ain’t that the truth.
Cruel Summer is a disaster through and through, a project disguised in so much secrecy and mired by so many push-backs that when it leaked last week, it had no real hope of living up to its astronomical expectations. And not to my surprise, it didn’t.
True, West’s albums have been delayed before, but those projects included The College Dropout and My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy – two of the best hip-hop albums of the millennium, which Cruel Summer is not. Rather, it’s turned into a circus; a stain on what was a nearly flawless discography.
The album was originally due out this past spring. As I speak, it’s 2:30 p.m. on release day, and the explicit version of the album still isn’t for sale in the iTunes Store. (Hard copies are available in stores, however.) That’s about six extra months (and counting) to polish and get this album right and it didn’t happen. Rather, the end product is a measly 12 tracks, five of which were already released for free or as singles.
So, let me get this straight, Kanye: You have arguably the most talented label in hip-hop with about 20 fairly high-profile names attached in some form (not including producers), yet you can’t even muster an hour of music? And, better yet, you chose to showcase Chief Keef, who isn’t, nor will he ever be, signed to your label, as well as 2 Chainz, but not Mos Def or Mr. Hudson? And only one verse for Common, who might be the most prolific name in your crew?
I’m having a hard time figuring out what exactly justified pushing this album back.
That’s not to say Cruel Summer isn’t at least okay musically. The record is far more sonically interesting than, let’s say, We Are Young Money, but not as much as Dark Fantasy or even last year’s Watch the Throne. It has its share of bangers – “Cold,” the anthemic “New God Flow” and “Mercy” among them – but also slows it down for the melancholy “The One” and the ’80s-inspired “Bliss.” “Creepers” and “Sin City” get honorable mentions for being listenable at worst.
For the most part, the tracks that did make the record aren’t why this LP is disappointing. It’s the fact that there aren’t more of them, while duds like “Cold” and “Don’t Like” take up precious real estate on the album.
We expected more.
Maybe Kanye has been more focused on his sixth studio album than Cruel Summer. Maybe he’s been distracted by his girlfriend, Kim Kardashian, who gets her share of mentions on the record. But for such a noted perfectionist, that is unacceptable.
Maybe it was a bit unfair to expect much more than a glorified EP out of Cruel Summer. It’s certainly expensive to get a lot of big names on a project, which might explain why Travi$ Scott and Hudson Mohawke, who had no real prior affiliation with the label, have multiple credits on the album. But then again, by pushing this project back months at a time, it’s hard to expect anything but greatness, and greatness is what we expect from a Kanye West record.
Grade: 6/10Alex Antonetz is a senior Journalism major at The Ohio State University.