Kanye’s ‘Cruel Summer’ Has Enough Guest Stars To Make You Forget About Kanye
Not that I’m craving all Kanye, all the time. But isn’t there a whiff of neuroticism about the contemporary rapper’s reliance on legions of collaborators? I can tell you in complete honesty that I heard Cruel Summer’s singles—“Clique,” “Mercy,” “New God Flow” and “Cold”—in heavy rotation on Hot 97 without realizing they were Kanye songs. It was not until I got my hands on the compilation itself that I realized they all added up to one artifact with a kitchen-sink approach.
(Full disclosure: I like 808s & Heartbreak better than My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, so my hip-hopinions may be suspect, especially given that I just attempted to coin the phrase “hip-hopinion.” Also I hate myself for dropping a “full disclosure.” What a mess this week has been. Thank god this aside is almost over.)
You could take the presence of up to five(!) vocalists on one track as evidence of an intriguing self-effacement, sure: there’s something appealing about the superstar drowning in a barrel of his surrogates—and it jives with Kanye’s meditations on how fame warps and subsumes identity. On the other hand, it can come across as a variation on rap’s gleeful materialism: look who I’m friends with, and how many of them there are. The result is often overstuffed and disorienting.
I suppose, then, it must be an honor to get some breathing room on a track. Not accidentally, my favorite cut from Cruel Summeris a deep, offbeat one, starring just Kid Cudi. It’s called “Creepers” and includes the line “If I had one wish it’d be to have more wishes / Duh / Fuck tryna make it rhyme.” What more could you want? And don’t say a guest verse.
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