We alluded to it yesterday, but "Cruel Summer" leaked online on Wednesday, a little less than a week before its official release. No, we won't link to a download, but if you snoop around for more than 30 seconds, you'll be able to find a good copy.
The album is pretty good. It's not a ground-breaking work by any means, and it doesn't stack up with "Watch the Throne" or even Big Sean and Pusha-T's most recent solo releases, but it's certainly worth a listen or two. Kanye's production is still unlike anything else out there (and he wisely gets the assistance of the underrated Scottish DJ Hudson Mohawke on four of the songs), and the album does have "Clique," one of the best tracks of the year. As a downside, there are a ton of f*cking filler songs on here. It's a top-heavy album that just gets worse the more you listen, although it does end on a high note with "Don't Like."
We've ranked the songs below, and we've included a few Soundclouds of the tracks that have been legally released.
A Kid Cudi solo track that really doesn't belong here. Cudi's material has worn thin—the song's lyrics, shockingly, allude to taking pills and being depressed—and there seems to be little to no collaboration from the rest of the G.O.O.D. music crowd. This one should have been nixed.
11. Sin City
The beat here is all over the f*cking place. It sounds uncannily like WTT's "Hell of a Life" at the start, then devolves into a weird mix of a screaming sample, synths, and the occasional marching band drum beat. Poor Malik Yusef and Travis Scott can't really keep up.
It features a decent hook by The-Dream, but otherwise it and "The One" are forgetttable filler tracks.
9. The One
8. The Morning
Wow. Man. This song contains—and this took us a while to pinpoint—a prolonged sample of Yellowman's "I'm Getting Married in the Morning" that's brought up around two octaves and is the length of "Otis's" "Try a Little Tenderness" sample. The sheer obscurity of the inclusion of the song—and the extent at which it's used—should point you to how weird this album is.
What's said about this has been said. Except for this: Kanye, you really couldn't have gotten Kris Humphries kicked off the Nets. Your boy 'Hova owns 1-15th of 1% of the team.
6. New God Flow
This sounds exactly like a Prince song. Which isn't necessarily a bad thing if you like Prince songs. (I like Prince songs.)
4. Don't Like
Kanye goes about as hard as he has on here, and the beat is jacked straight from a Rick Ross mixtape. Bombastic and meant to be played out of a bass-heavy car soundsystem.
The song itself has been overshadowed by that great music video, but it still holds up well on the album. Also, these three songs run back-to-back-to-back: "Clique," then "Mercy," then "New God Flow." Whew.
2. To the World
I said this on Twitter yesterday, and I stand by it today: "To the World" is the best R. Kelly song in years. It makes me want to play "Chocolate Factory" on repeat all day today. Also, the production on this song sounds like it cost, like, $3 million. (There are seven listed producers.)
The gospel-sounding intro, the vintage-sounding Jay-Z verse, the FORMER CIA DIRECTOR GEORGE TENET reference from Kanye... This song is No. 1 at iTunes for a reason.