Kanye West‘s G.O.O.D. Music Cruel Summer compilation may not be a proper Yeezy album, but like a president he’ll get all the credit if it succeeds and the blame if it fails. As it should be, since he had a hand — credited or not — in every song on the record. Fortunately for Kanye, it’s getting generally positive — but not raving — reviews.
Most outlets are in agreement that the opening salvo of tracks is lean and mean and effective. Unfortunately for Kanye, reviewers seem to agree that West’s blatant attempts at grandiosity — which seemed so effortless on My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy — were clunky and uninspired this time around. And let’s just say our prediction that “Bliss” would be polarizing seems to be on-point (for the record: LOVE IT). Read on for a roundup of the reviews.
:: On the way to giving it 3.5/5, we noted that while Kanye’s biggest songs are often his best, on this album”the most entertaining tracks are the minimalist ones, and it’s once you dig into the seemingly grand songs that they crumble under the weight of Kanye’s self-indulgence.”
:: Spin surveyed its editors for a set of “impulsive reviews” after the album leaked, which included Charles Aaron’s 7/10. He said this of the “glorified summer mixtape”: “Dudes don’t have clearly defined roles and tend to unfocus the spotlight rather than magnify it. Ultimately, it confuses Kanye’s brand. But that’s not to say this isn’t a consistently interesting or enjoyable collection of music.”
:: The LA Times describes the album as “a sonic runway show…this is a West-directed endeavor through and through, filled with magnetically minimal tracks…[it] offers proof that West’s Chicago posse has cemented its place as one of the most formidable cliques in the world.”
:: Pitchfork was much harder on the G.O.O.D. crew in their 6.5/10 score, saying that “If Cruel Summer is meant to be an argument for the label’s other talent, it makes a weak case…Kanye’s career has been built on maniacal quality control, but Cruel Summer feels uncharacteristically disposable.”
:: The Associated Press is pickin’ up what you’re puttin’ down, Pitchfork: “Cruel Summer is utterly disposable” and it “fails in the same way most [mixtapes] do: It’s a disjointed assemblage of rhyme styles and perspectives with no overarching musical direction.”
:: Billboard liked it better than other recent posse albums, but still found it to be “a mixed bag full of vigorous singles and minute made, mailed-in verses…the G.O.O.D. Music artists don’t shine bright enough.”
:: Stereogum articulated just about everyone’s thoughts regarding the album’s front-loading, saying, “As much as the first half symbolizes all of the upward pull and momentum Kanye can instill in a group project, the second half shows how feckless it can be without his firm grasp on the proceedings.”
:: Consequence of Sound gave it a 3/5, pointing out that “the beats here are uniformly great” but also noting “songs become too jammed-up with so many moving parts that it sounds like they’re actually immobile.”
:: En route to its 3.5/5 score, HipHopDX felt “G.O.O.D. Music’s first outing successfully showcases the collective’s talents, but it’s ultimately an underachieving and uneven effort.”