A quick disclaimer: I am a huge Kanye West fan. Despite the fact that he is an egomaniacal, Taylor Swift interrupting, Lego-guy-sized head possessing crazy person who regularly compares himself to Martin Luther King Jr., I love Kanye. His unique blend of hip-hop is arrogant, glitzy, soulful and clever, so it pains me to say that his latest album, Kanye West Presents G.O.O.D. Music Cruel Summer is about as pleasant to listen to as it is to say out loud.
In all fairness to Malcom West (as he refers to himself) this is not a true solo album, but a showcase for the members of his G.O.O.D. Music label. Kanye joins established hip-hoppers like Common, Kid Cudi and Jay-Z along side up-and-comers like Big Sean and Chief Keef. It is this juxtaposition that makes most of the album sound like absurd, macho posturing by a bunch of little boys wearing their role models’ gangsta pants for the first time.
“Clique” seeks to declare that the G.O.O.D Music label is best in the biz, but the only click you think about the second Big Sean begins to speak is the click of your keyboard to switch songs. The insufferable boom-clap beats continue on “Mercy” as 2 Chainz proclaims how cultured he is because he wears Polo right after Big Sean talks about rolling joints off of some booty in the club.
On West’s solo albums listeners can empathize with his rags-to-riches story and colorful descriptions ofChicago. However, with lyrical gems like, “Barbecue and blow in the back of the crib,” from “The Morning” or “$6000 pair of shoes, we made it to theParisnews,” from “Cold,” this superficial album leaves me asking myself, who cares?
Though this album throws around the n-word like bowling pins at a juggling convention and values trunk-thumping bass over thought-provoking lyrics, there are a few keepers on the track list. On “Bliss,” Teyana Taylor and John Legend swoon back and forth over a cosmically seductive duet (noted: idea for a perfume line, “Cosmically seductive duet”), while “Creepers” by Kid Cudi is a refreshingly emotional window into the angsty MC’s head that offers a needed break from the Bentleys and Benjamins motif of the rest of the album.
Compared with the lush production and virtuoso wordplay of the rest of West’s work, the whining synths, crackling drums, and empty boasts of G.O.O.D. Music Cruel Summer make for some M.E.D.I.O.C.R.E. Music this fall.