In recent years, album release dates haven't mattered as much as "leak" days have.
That trend continued when the compilation album from Kanye West and his G.O.O.D. Music clique — "Cruel Summer," an odd name for a record that will hit stores on Tuesday, five days before fall begins — hit the Internet while most of us were sleeping last night. You won't find a link here, but if you're good with the Google, you should have no problem finding it. There's always iTunes, too.
We've heard the singles — the ubiquitous "Mercy" has been banging out of cars for months and "New God Flow" (now with a wonderful Ghostface Killah verse tacked on at the end) — but now the entire record is being dissected on Twitter and beyond. I'm running through it right now, and it's as dense as you'd expect from a West-helmed album. It will take awhile to unpack fully, so try your best not to be swayed by knee-jerk reactions on social media.
If you've heard "Cruel Summer," hit the comments with your thoughts. I love the booming opening track, "To the World," which is a fantastic showpiece for R. Kelly. West tacks on a forgettable verse at the end, proving that when Kells is in his zone, little else is necessary. ("R. Kelly and the god of rap / s-----n' on you, holy crap," raps West. Groan.) Stream it below.
And here's a reminder to save some room on your hard drive for local rapper Caddy Da Don's "Cut the Check" mixtape, scheduled to drop later today. Caddy, armed with recent potential crossover singles with D.C.'s Fat Trel and G.O.O.D. Music ally 2 Chainz, is currently Baltimore's best hope at breaking through to the mainstream, so I'm excited to hear this tape. I will update this post with a link when it drops.
One final note: Another talented Baltimore rapper, Rome Cee, put together a nice collection of recent Baltimore mixtapes, including Kane Mayfield's "Rhymes By Kane: Thievery Corporation Edition" and Al Great's "Summer Nights," two releases that have gotten burn in my car in recent months. Click here to check out Rome's list.