“If there’s a Cruel Summer, then there’s got to be a Cruel Winter, right?” That was the quote from Q-Tip during his 2012 interview with MTV that started the speculation that Kanye was planning a B-Side to his G.O.O.D Music compilation album. In the four years since the sly hint at a sequel, there has been countless rumors that it was on the way, coming soon and flat-out would never be released, making the album another myth to add alongside Detox, Santa Claus and the Based God Curse.
They say good things comes to those that wait, and anyone that has waited for Cruel Winter can rejoice today since Kanye aired the first single on Big Boy’s radio show this morning.
“Champions” features Kanye, Travis Scott, Quavo, Big Sean, Yo Gotti, Gucci Mane, 2 Chainz and Desiigner. The kind of lineup that you can’t help but press play on; just seeing Kanye and Gucci’s names together is reason enough to do a double take. A radio-rip is circulating around the net, no word on when the CDQ will be released, but the quality is good enough where you can feel the massiveness. It’s meant to be big, a huge song leading into a huge summer. I’ve seen tweets quoting Kanye stating that a 15 minute remix of "Panda" is on the way that features every artist on G.O.O.D Music. Probably the biggest remix since Game’s 12 minute “One Blood Remix.”
It's starting to look like a G.O.O.D summer.
What I remember about Cruel Summer was the singles. When “Mercy” dropped, just like “Champions” it felt massive. The blistering production features Big Sean, Pusha T, Kanye, and 2 Chainz, this is when Titty Boi’s resurgence was at its climax and his verse on “Mercy” raised his stock higher than ever. If I remember correctly, “New God Flow” was the next. The Ghostface sample, Pusha T and Kanye spazzing like maniacs - raw, boastful, and unapologetic rapping at its finest. “Clique” was the next single, a song that had the right amount of bounce and an equally catchy hook to make it an inescapable anthem that summer. Who could forget “Way Too Cold”? It’s off-the-Henny Kanye rapping without worrying about repercussions. The Wiz name-drop sent the internet over the cliff like Coyote chasing Roadrunner. If you haven’t seen the Ash Innovator-directed music video do that right this second.
Even though the singles were big throughout the summer, the album as a whole didn’t carry the same momentum.The Ma$e featured “Higher” is forgettable, “Sin City” is lukewarm but it did introduce Travis Scott to a wider audience, and “To The World” seems like a good idea with mediocre execution. Cudi’s solo record, “Creepers,” isn’t bad but it doesn’t fit the compilation aspect of the album. I found the John Legend and Teyana Taylor "Bliss" collaboration to be the hidden gem. Cruel Summer wasn’t the big, gaudy masterpiece to match the big, gaudy album cover. It won’t be completely forgotten in history but it came and went without leaving much of an impact.
I can tell by the excitement being displayed on the internet that expectations are high for Cruel Winter. My phone has been flooded with messages since the single was premiered. Even though I think the song is good, what I found most intriguing is the line up. Yo Gotti, Quavo, and Gucci aren’t G.O.O.D Music or Def Jam artists. Cruel Winter could be Kanye branching outside of his G.O.O.D family and grabbing artists from across the industry. I expect to see Young Thug featured more than Common, Chance more than CyHi. Kanye seems to be surrounding himself with the youth, a lot of young artists are in his corner. Which could be good and bad. I don’t know how Desiigner will sound alongside Q-Tip but if anyone can make that collaboration into something special, it’s Kanye West.
I’m kind of worried that Cruel Winter will follow in the footsteps of it’s predecessor - big singles but on the whole a pretty forgettable album. It’s too soon for me to get excited through, or worried. Let's call it intrigued, I don’t care if it’s a masterpiece, I just don’t want it to be a cluster of forced features that makes for a lackluster album. Hopefully, Cruel Winter, the sequel we never really asked for, will prove to be as big as the names that will be featured on it.