Cruel Summer boasts 12 tracks with a variety of verses, hooks and ad-libs from ’Ye’s team, plus notable features like R. Kelly, and the final product was a completely unexpected result — literally. Pusha T tells MTV News that he heard the finished product only weeks before the album’s official debut.
Pusha appears on a handful of songs including the singles “New God Flow,” “Mercy,” and previously unheard cuts like “The Morning” and “Higher,” but the Clipse rapper was pleasantly surprised to hear the final mixes of the above tracks.
“Working on all of those tracks, it’s a situation where I wasn’t always in studio. It was one of those things where [Kanye] might’ve sent me a beat — or made sure I got a beat, because he didn’t really send anything via email — and I would just write to it,” he explained.
“The surprise was when I got in the studio on August 28 and heard all these records,” he said of hearing Cruel Summer in its entirety, for the first time. “I had no idea I was on a record with Ma$e, on ’Higher,’ I had no idea that Raekwon was on ’The Morning’ and I didn’t even know that he put Ghostface on ’New God Flow,’ who’s one of my all-time favorite rappers, just because he has the one style that is proven to be timeless throughout the years.”
Although critics have taken aim at Kanye for not having a greater presence on the album, fans don’t necessarily seem to share the same opinion, enjoying the range of influences displayed on the project, which is currently predicted to sell about $200,000 in its first week.
“I definitely would say there’s a super-duper hip-hop overtone, a boom bap type of ’80s and ’90s overtone on some of the records,” Pusha said, breaking down the sound. “There’s a reggae influence on some of the records [then] you have artists like Teyana Taylor, John Legend and R. Kelly, which brings a whole R&B vibe and Marsha Ambrosius, she kills it as well. It’s just a melting pot of musical styles.”
“I definitely feel like Cruel Summer lives up to the hype,” he added, addressing the critical reception. “I definitely feel like Cruel Summer is the best compilation album of all crews to drop compilation albums. The music level is totally the upper echelon of hip-hop and just music as a whole, because it’s not just hip-hop, it’s R&B, it’s fused with a lot of different influences.