*** (out of four)
By the time you get to the end of "Clique," the new single from G.O.O.D Music's upcoming album "Cruel Summer," it's hard to remember that Big Sean is even on the track.
While the song's texture is relatively thin, the stilted drums and ominous accents make for a beat that sounds ready to bubble over--only more like a pot of molten gold than a pot of boiling rice. That is to say, it's the perfect platform for the braggadocio of Jay-Z and Kanye. Big Sean simply can't stand up, boasting about being up for nine days and stumbling over a double-time flow. (Really, he's just here for the hook.)
Hova has been on cruise control thus far in 2012, but his verses now are so refined and coherent that they're eminently better than anyone else he hops on a track with: "Your money too short, you can't be talking to me/ Yeah I'm talking LeBron, we balling our family tree/ G.O.O.D Music drug dealing cousin, ain't nothing [bleepin'] with we, me."
Meanwhile, Jay's former protege continues to improve as a rapper. "Clique" allows the best and worst of Kanye to shine through, including: "Ate breakfast at Gucci/ My girl a superstar all from a home movie" and "I rather buy 80 gold chains and go ig'nant/ I know Spike Lee gone kill me but let me finish." Based on the obvious Kim K. reference, Kris Jenner also would not approve.
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