The strength of "Cruel Summer" (G.O.O.D. Music) -- the compilation from Kanye West's label and his stable of artists -- is also its weakness. When set against the flashes of brilliance, usually from West, the rest of the music seems blander than it really is. Take the thrilling "New God Flow," where West sets up "Picture working so hard and you can't cut through" before outlining the problems of his beloved Chicago like a political scientist, only in rhyme. The power gets sapped by tacking on a self-promotional, military-styled call-and-response. There's no doubt that the G.O.O.D. Music crew is good, but "Cruel Summer" too often falls short of great.


advertisement | advertise on newsday

"Kanye West Presents G.O.O.D. Music's Cruel Summer"


BOTTOM LINE More than just a hip-hop mixtape