Nearly one year after first being announced, the G.O.O.D. Music compilation Cruel Summer finally arrives in stores and online this week. With Kanye West at the helm, the 12 tracks feature members of the hip-hop crew, with guest appearances from Jay-Z, R. Kelly, Ma$e, The-Dream, and more. Kanye’s albums have fared well with critics in the past, but did G.O.O.D. make the grade? Find out below.
The New York Times: On Cruel Summer, the spotty new compilation from his G.O.O.D. Music label from which all of the lyrics above are drawn, Mr. West is characteristically loose. … Some of the best moments on this album belong to the snarling drug-dealer-obsessed Pusha T.
TIME: But more often, the songs become too jammed-up with so many moving parts that it sounds like they’re actually immobile. … If we ever get a Cruel Summer sequel, let’s hope it’ll be tighter in focus and a lot more exclusive about what and whom it allows in.
The Associated Press: Cruel Summer fails in the same way most do: It’s a disjointed assemblage of rhyme styles and perspectives with no overarching musical direction. In short, a mixtape.
Chicago Sun-Times: Like Kanye’s full-length collaboration last year with Jay-Z, Watch the Throne, the looming hype casts too great a shadow for the project to shine on its own merits. 2.5/4
Newsday: There’s no doubt that the G.O.O.D. Music crew is good, but Cruel Summer too often falls short of great. B+
BBC Music: The oversized egos aren’t surprising here, but there’s no denying the disorganization, as at least five of these songs should’ve remained on the cutting room floor. Kanye is an incredibly smart musician, so these results are truly baffling. Maybe he works better alone.
Rap-Up’s Favorite Tracks: “To the World,” “Mercy,” “Clique,” “New God Flow”