RAP BATTLE: Kanye West’s Cruel Summer – G.O.O.D. Music


Kanye West released a compilation of collaborations between noteworthy rappers, under his new label, G.O.O.D. Music, back in September. Etta and Bella present two alternate viewpoints on the same music and battle it out.

It really is G.O.O.D.

By Etta Bouzoucos

Rating: 8.5/10

The general consensus about Cruel Summer is that it is disappointing, and quite frankly not up to Kanye’s usually impeccable standards. Although Kanye was one of the two executive producers of the album, it must be noted that it is not an easy task to co-ordinate over 20 G.O.O.D. music artists and affiliates, as well as over 18 producers, and create an album that is flawlessly cohesive as well as commercially orientated. Although the criticism that Kanye has far surpassed the standard of Cruel Summer with previous albums, both lyrically and musically, is valid – Cruel Summer shouldn’t simply be dismissed. I mean, you can’t suggest that Yohan Blake can’t run, simply because Bolt is faster.

While there are several songs on the album that wouldn’t exactly shoot to the top of your ‘most played’ list, there are also some serious tunes that are simply overshadowed by Kanye’s legacy, and these appear to have been overlooked, judging by the lukewarm 6/10 reviews which were bestowed upon the album.

A few of the highlights include The One, featuring Big Sean, 2 Chainz, and Marsha Ambrosius. It’s easy listening and is practically designed for the hordes of Daily Mail worshippers, with its casual references to the Kardashian clan. Clique is another diamond, featuring Big Sean and Jay-Z, and as expected, Jay-Z (a.k.a. J-Hova, the God of rap) is lyrically flawless, and once RapGenius [Ed.: the York Notes of rap] has casually been opened in another tab, it’s only seconds before you’re nodding along to the problems of money and the aspirations of the hood.

Despite the fact that Mercy has almost 20 million views on YouTube, it was released as a single EP, and is therefore rather overlooked when the album is appraised. Featuring a wide variety of rappers, it is undeniably catchy. A particular highlight is Big Sean’s verse, although due to the nature of it, and his fixation with the ‘female form’, it is probably better for me not to go onto analyse his incredibly witty wordplay. Although one may not automatically be able to understand everything that is being said in the song, it does not prevent the chants of ‘Lamborghini mercy’ over and over again that inevitably are heard when one is listening to the song.

Finally, Cold, which is Kanye’s collaboration with DJ Khaled, is a particular favourite of mine. Kanye’s usual courting of controversy within his lyrics is amusing, as well as the accompanying music video, which features an incredibly adorable little boy, lip singing in a manner that can only be described as ‘swagged out’.

Essentially, although the album doesn’t necessarily ‘flow’ as nicely as might be expected of Kanye, if the songs are looked at individually, there are very few that could be deemed unsatisfactory, and I would recommend a listen to all.

Cruel to my ears

By Bella Shanagher

Rating: 5.0/10

Cruel Summer, Kanye West’s latest album of collaborations, released early in September, is an add-on to West’s mastermind repertoire since his perfect, or almost so, Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy. West seems to have changed tune in this one. The recent death of his mother explains the ethereal angel on the album cover and the streak of hometown nostalgia. However, the quality of the album as a collection is disappointing.

A few of the more notable individual songs in the compilation were released as singles earlier in the year and were some of his best to date. The recently debuted Clique was the first single of the Kanye West–Jay-Z partnership since the successful Watch the Throne album in 2011. Unfortunately, this time round, West, Jay-Z and Big Sean are not so fiery. It’s not one that I would want to have on replay.

This album seems to be different to others previously as there is no trace of West’s trademark meticulousness. He makes little contribution in terms of song material, particularly in the popular hit Mercy, in which Kanye only contributes the melancholic: ‘let the suicide doors up,’ which could be referring to his late mother. Voices in the album which deserve acknowledgment include Pusha T, 2 Chainz, Big Sean, and R. Kelly. R. Kelly sets the standard high in the intro track, To the World, produced by Roscoe. It features a nice, soft sound and an impressive instrumental. Although the choice of the vocalist was great, it was surprising, and the autotune was slightly excessive. Most of these tracks didn’t do well in the charts at all and they’re not very memorable either. Only three of the songs scraped into the Billboard charts.

Without the influence of West, most tracks would have been a bit hit and miss commercially, particularly Creepers, which is quite a bad comeback for Kid Cudi. It was written much earlier and lacks a little ‘Kanye’. It’s probably a song to have on your ‘Sleepy’ playlist and Cudi certainly creeps me out a bit with his monotonous vocals.

Mercy was the catchy hit of the summer, with the repeated lyric of “Lamborghini mercy, your chick – she’s so thirsty.” It was a combined effort of inspired hooks from Pusha T and 2 Chainz and was probably the most ‘Kanye-esque’ track of the album. The song does push up my rating of the album. It’s on my 25 most-played playlist, so gets credit for that.

The would give this album a score 5 out of 10, because whilst certain songs are great individually, the album as a whole isn’t quite up to the standard of his other work.

So whom do you think won this rap battle? Share your views in the comments section below.

Photography: MartialArtsNomad.com on Flickr (CC BY 2.0); dbwolf on Flickr (1,2,3,4) (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0).


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