By David Thorpe
[Note: I thought I had a pretty hot scoop when I snagged a copy of Kanye West’s notorious sex tape, which remains unseen by most of the public. Unfortunately, my editor didn’t think a review of an ill-gotten celebrity porn clip was appropriate for a reputable family blog like Sound of the City. After some argument, we reached a compromise: I could only review the Kanye sex tape if I also wrote a capsule review of G.O.O.D. Music’s Cruel Summer. And he wasn’t going to pay me twice, so . . .]
This fall, after dribbling out a series of tantalizing leaks, Kanye has finally let loose a full-on gush of material on his Sex Tape Cruel Summer. Although it’s largely a collaborative work, the Sex Tape Cruel Summer is unmistakably drenched in Ye’s DNA. Even when he steps out of the frame, his silky production is splashed copiously throughout the affair; when he does take control, he often switches up the rhythm and hogs the spotlight, bursting with preening bravado — you’ll forget anyone else is there.
As Watch the Throne proved, his flow is strongest when he has well-matched partners to coax it out. While it’s fun to see him mixing it up with new faces, you might miss the singular ego of Kanye’s solo work, showcased in his leaked penis pic My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy. Collaborators can turn the heat up and bring different skills to the mix, but the maniacal self-indulgence of Ye’s most solitary releases gives us a more intimate view of the man.
Kanye’s Sex Tape Cruel Summer isn’t a classic banger, but it’s much more than a toss-off. It’s best regarded as a fun thing to throw on at a party — if you turn on the lights and put on headphones for an intimate session, you might not come away satisfied. The final product, while glossy and copious, seems a bit watered down; the frolicsome interplay seems wearying after a while, and we can’t help but yearn for the return of solo Kanye: alone in the booth, focused and furrowed, spitting off a hot flow to his own pumping beats.
We might have to wait awhile to see a return to form, though. Yesterday, TMZ revealed Kanye has another pair-up already in the can, featuring nearly 40 minutes of new material.