.
http://assets-s3.rollingstone.com/assets/images/album_review/cruel-summer-art-1348161478.jpg Cruel Summer

G.O.O.D. Music

Cruel Summer

G.O.O.D./Def Jam
Rolling Stone: star rating
Community: star rating
5 3 0
10
September 20, 2012

Kanye West doesn't really do low stakes. He once identified his competition as "Michelangelo, Picasso, the pyramids," and it's not like you form a group with Jay-Z, name it the Throne and put a gold embossed cover on the album because you're afraid of high expectations. So consider Cruel Summer the first real creative vacation West has taken in his illustrious career – an occasionally exhilarating, ultimately underwhelming showcase for Kanye and his friends (many of whom are signed to his G.O.O.D. Music label) to have a little fun together, shooting hoops in the backyard without anyone confusing the pickup game for the Olympics.

The album trades sonic extravagance for a largely stripped-down palette of 808 bass and tinny melodies ("Mercy," "Cold"). Guests include a marvelously surly R. Kelly ("The whole world is a couch/ Bitch, I'm Rick James toniiiight!" he belts on "To the World"), Jay-Z (whose breezy self-regard overflows into Spanish on "Clique") and younger comers, like 2 Chainz and Big Sean, who keep the goofy punch lines flowing. But the star is West, who bum-rushes every song he's on like it's someone else's acceptance speech. His "Clique" verse is a classic head-spinner: One moment he's slyly referencing girlfriend Kim Kardashian's sex tape; the next he's musing on race and wealth via an (imagined?) exchange with Bush-era CIA boss George Tenet, then eyeing real estate next to Tom Cruise's place. There are no grand statements, but plenty of hot lines.

Listen to 'Cruel Summer':

10
prev
Album Review Main Next

ADD A COMMENT

Community Guidelines »
loading comments

loading comments...

COMMENTS

Sort by:
    Read More
    Around the Web
    Powered By ZergNet
    Daily Newsletter

    Get the latest RS news in your inbox.

    Sign up to receive the Rolling Stone newsletter and special offers from RS and its
    marketing partners.

    X

    We may use your e-mail address to send you the newsletter and offers that may interest you, on behalf of Rolling Stone and its partners. For more information please read our Privacy Policy.

    Song Stories

    “Vans”

    The Pack | 2006

    Berkeley, California rappers the Pack made their footwear choice clear in 2006 with the song "Vans." The track caught the attention of Too $hort, who signed them to his imprint. MTV refused to play the video for the song, though, claiming it was essentially a commercial for the product. Rapper Lil' B disagreed. "I didn’t know nobody [at] Vans," he said. "I was just a rapper who wore Vans." Even without MTV's support, Lil' B recognized the impact of the track. "God blessed me with such a revolutionary song… People around my age know who really started a lot of the dressing people are into now."

    More Song Stories entries »
    www.expandtheroom.com