Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Kanye West "Cruel Summer" Review

I've been meaning to sit down and actually write out my review of Kanye's new "Cruel Summer" album for two weeks, but late as I may be, here's my .02 cents on the album.

The "Cruel Summer" album jumps off with the R Kelly colab and the big song "To The World".  Considering Kanye's relationship with the media (and R Kelly's for that matter) this song is a great jumpoff with the message.  R Kelly sounds great and I like the use of the various kick drums, but I hate that distorted snare hit.  A side note: I'm really noticing Kanye not completing simple one syllable words like "tax" or "back" more and more frequently and instead saying "ta" and Ba".  That shit has always irritated me with rappers.  Next up is "Clique" and I'm bananas about this record.  I love the bassline and the repetitive vocal sample and everyone rides the beat perfectly.  Of course it always helps to include Jay-Z and Big Sean on any record.  I've been banging this record heavy for a minute and will continue to run it in my mixes - easily one of my favorites from the album.  "Clique" contains samples form James Brown's "Funky President" (if anyone is interested).  "Mercy" is dope, but it's been played so damn much since April that I'm done with it.  Ignoring that fact though, "Mercy" is obviously a hit from the record.  For the crate diggas: "Mercy" contains samples from the recording "Dust a Sound Boy" by Super Beagle; samples from the recording "Cu-Oonuh" by Reggie Stepper; and samples from the recording "Lambo" by YB.  Although it's not credited, there is also a sample from the movie Scarface ("Tony's Theme" by Giorgio Moroder).  "New God Flow" with Pusha T and Ghostface Killah is ok, but that Melvin Bliss "Synthetic Substitution" breakbeat has been used so much that it's disappointing to hear Kanye run with it (considering his albums are usually a lesson in crate digging).  "New God Flow" contains samples of the recording "Synthetic Substitution" by Melvin Bliss; samples of the recording "Mighty Healthy" (a capella) by Ghostface Killah; samples from the G.I. Townsend recording "Sermon Fragment"; James Brown's "Funky President", and samples from "BĂ´das De Sangue" by Marcos Valle.  "The Morning"  with Raekwon, Pusha T, Common, 2 Chainz, Cyhi the Prynce, Kid Cudi and D'banj is definitely another favorite of mine.  I'm not a big fan of the singing breaks, but the beat behind each verse is dope as hell.  I have to give props to Ye for assembling that unique lineup of talent to run this track too. Definitely dope.  For the crate diggas:  "The Morning" contains elements of "Get Me to the Church on Time", written by Alan Jay Lerner and Frederick Loewe.  There's also a faint sample of James Brown looped up in the bars.  "Cold" dropped back in April so I'm worn out with this one too, but have to admit it's a dope record (even though I can't stand to hear Khaled screaming all over a track-thankfully he kept it to a minimum).  "Cold" contains interpolations of "Illegal Search", written by James T. Smith and Marlon L. Williams.  "Higher" is most definitely one of my favorites from the entire album.  Kanye rides out with The Dream, Pusha T, Mase and Cocaine 80s, but Mase is surprisingly the weak link in the lineup.  I love the arrangement of the track and the use of the wood for the snare and the way the snare and kick roll out in the fills.  Definitely dope production.  "Sin City" with that distorted bass drum...either you love it or hate in between on that.  Kanye brings in John Legend, Travis Scott, Teyana Taylor, Cyhi the Prynce and Malik Yusef for the record so I had big expectations, but I have to say "Sin City" is a big let down.  "The One" follows the same footsteps and is a letdown for me.  Ye brings in Big Sean, 2 Chainz and Marsha Ambrosius which I had high hopes for (minus 2 Chainz).  I think Marsha Ambrosius and Kanye should slip in the studio and work out a single with just the two of them at their best.   "The One" contains credited samples of the recording "Double Barrel" by Dave and Ansell Collins which I think most people will associate with DJ Jazzy Jeff who was the first I heard use the sample and Special Ed who built a song around the famous "I am the magnificent" sample.  There are also uncredited samples of Public Enemy's  "Public Enemy No. 1" and Kanye and Jay-Z's own "Niggas in Paris".  "Creepers" with Kid Cudi....trash. I have no idea why this record is part of the album, but it's garbage all the way around.  Hooks - suck, verses - suck, production - suck...this song is absolute trash to the point of being laughable.  "Bliss" with John Legend and Teyana Taylor is a step above the trash of "Creepers" but still garbage.  The song reminds me of the tryout at the Roxy in the classic movie "Beat Street" when the punk rocker comes out and has dude looking like "What the fuck? Why did you bring this trash to the tryouts?". If you get an opportunity to record with John Legend and Teyana Taylor then you have the opportunity to create an absolute timeless classic, but instead Kanye blows it.  Big letdown.  "Don't Like" wraps up the album and thankfully ends on a high note with Kanye West rockin with Chief Keef, Pusha T, Big Sean and Jadakiss.  You can be sure you'll hear samples of this flipped into hooks in the near future since so much is left naked in acapella.  For the crate diggas:  "Don't Like" contains samples from the G.I. Townsend recording "Sermon Fragment" and interpolations of "Under Mi Sensi", written by Barrington Levy and Paul Love.

Overall, this album falls short of "My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy" that Ye and Jay-Z blessed us with, but still delivers some dope records with "Higher", "Mercy", "Clique", "The Morning", "Cold" and "Don't Like".  Kanye has some dope feature artists involved and had me setting my hope high, but often the feature artists either don't deliver or are paired together over production that just blows ass.  I would recommend the album, but don't think it will rank in my top 10 for the year.

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