Kanye West explaining G.O.O.D Music’s collaborative album Cruel Summer
GOOD Music Inc. is a record label that the public eye has undeniably witnessed dominate popular culture for many many years now since being founded in 2004 by Kanye West. GOOD Music played a major role in jump starting the eventual long lasting careers of inaugural members John Legend and Common. In more current times, audiences have seen artists like Big Sean and Travi$ Scott crawling out of GOOD Music and contributing in ways that are immeasurable (just think of the adlibs, oh GOD!).
Despite a long list of accomplishments, it seems that the general public hasn’t accepted the impact that GOOD Music has had in curating today’s music. There is probably a 99% chance that most people can only link the words ‘GOOD Music’ to Kanye West and GOOD Fridays only. Since the label’s creation in 2004, GOOD Music has shape-shifted into a super group that has formed its own identity after numerous iterations of artists and producers entering and leaving its hub.
With the inconsistently successful mess surrounding Kanye West’s most recent new album The Life of Pablo happening, there has also been numerous stories and announcements regarding the label that have surfaced. These new upbringings are potential game changers and serve as a teaser to the world showcasing another strong move made by GOOD Music.
To help illustrate the impact of the recent actions and the rest of GOOD Music’s universal scope, RLGT is here to present some the label’s most prolific events and key moves over the past decade that has propelled them into the forefront of modern culture and how they’ve distanced themselves from other groups by continuously building for the future.
- Kanye West [Founder]
- Pusha T [President]
- John Legend
- Big Sean
- Teyana Taylor
- Hxlt [New]
- Kacy Hill [New]
- Malik Yusef
- Cyhi The Prynce
- Ryan McDermott
- Desiigner [New]
- No I.D
- Hudson Mohawke
- Travis Scott
- Evian Christ
- Charlie Heat
- Jeff Bhasker
- Noah Goldstein
- Benny Cassette
- Boogz & Tapez
GOOD Music Fam (Current & Past)
- Kid Cudi
- Mr. Hudson
- Yasiin Bey (Mos Def)
- Tony Williams
- Plain Pat
- Don C.
- Fonzworth Bentley
- Mike Dean [OG]
- Charlie Wilson
- Justin Vernon [Bon Iver]
- Mannie Fresh
- 2 Chainz
- King L
- Allan Kingdom
- Theophilus London???
Should Desiigner be known as the artist that created the hard-hitting banger Panda OR should he be known as the artist that lent his hit track Panda to Kanye West’s [Father Stretch My Hands] Pt. 2 on The Life of Pablo? It doesn’t seem to matter too much to the Brooklyn based rapper, as news spread that Desiigner was officially signed as an artist to GOOD Music just three days before The Life Of Pablo’s exclusive world premiere on February 14th, 2016.
Speculation had it that Future was originally the one on Pt. 2 and Feedback, but that notion was quickly cleared up by various sources. Although Desiigner has been called out for stealing Atlanta-based rapper Future’s sound, it should be noted that Kanye West has repeatedly associated himself with acts that have seen much of the same abuse (Travis Scott and Theophilus London) on the internet – at this point, if the music is good, it will find the light of day.
The signing of the 18 year old rapper could potentially prove to be a mistake for Mr. West (the time from when they met to when Desiigner actually signed to GOOD Music was actually only a matter of a few days), but coming off a strong premiere with Panda, backed up by years left in prime hip-hop form (he’s only 18), and now having the opportunity to surround himself with the industry’s finest that will give Desiigner everything that he needs to be great.
I was actually hanging with the Madden brothers [Benjie and Joel of Good Charlotte] then Kanye walks in and was like, ‘Yo what up?’ So we just chattin’ and he’s like, ‘Yo, I’m about to go to the studio up the block. You guys want to come?’ So we go to the studio and he plays me [his joint album with Jay Z] Watch the Throne and I was like, ‘Fuck.’ And I told him that “N—as in Paris” is going to be the one. I was like, “Dude, that’s the song.” – Hxlt on meeting Kanye West (via Billboard)
Nigel “Hxlt” Holt (f.k.a Hollywood Holt) is the rapper turned punk rock artist hailing from Chicago that was recently signed to GOOD Music last May. Hxlt joins a long list of Chicago natives that have had ties to the label including Common, No I.D., Lupe Fiasco, King L, and of course Kanye just to name a few.
Originally coming out as a rapper (Editors Note: Kreayshawn’s “Firetruck” ft. Hollywood Holt was my JAM back in Summer 2013), Hxlt has since chosen a different outlet to live by. The self proclaimed King of DIY has seemed to live out various identities including but not limited to his former “rap” persona and current his punk-rock episode. Coming out of Chicago, which is known to be one of the hardest strugling cities in the U.S., seems to be an odd, but rightful fit with Hxlt’s musical background. Rap and Punk Rock both started from rebellions that aimed to break free from existing social injustices that included poverty as one of the drivers.
Hxlt recently dropped his self titled GOOD Music debut on February 26th, 2016. Hxlt brings diversity to the label, brings pure rawness and pure human. GOOD Music has taken another step forward in expanding their portfolio by adding a character such as Hxlt to the mix. If you’re American, you can stream the album on Soundcloud. If you’re living above the border, then take a listen to this freestyle remix on T.I.’s Welcome To The World by Hxlt as a rapper.
Lastly, we have the beautiful Kacy Hill. From starting out as an American Apparel model, to being a backup dancer for the Yeezus tour, she becomes the second female artist [Teyana Taylor being the first] to be signed under GOOD Music. The incredible thing about this signee is that she is coming to the group as a non hip-hop artist.
As part of a rap-heavy roster, Kacy’s long background in classical music should bring another dimension to the group. As far as collaborations go, she’s seen her work on Travis Scott’s “90210” come into fruition as it was on the album Rodeo released in 2015.
The recent pick ups for GOOD Music have seemed to have quick turn around times between the initial meet-up and officially signing to the label. Kanye West actually first heard Hill’s music while on the Yeezus tour back in late 2013. With much excitement, they flew Hill out to Altantic City where West’s excitement literally had him “jumping off the couch” for the dream-pop/alternative singer.
Her first non-album debut single Experience in 2014 brought her name to the conversation of various media outlets, claiming as one of the artists “you need to hear”. Since then, she has released her first EP entitled “Bloo” released on October 9th, 2015 and continues to work on new material in the year of 2016.
AKA Push-a Ton, Terrence Thorton of Virginia, one half of the duo Clipse, Re-Up Gang, Adidas colaborator, Play Cloths, and now President of GOOD Music.
Loyalty, work ethic and a long lasting rapping career have bumped Pusha T into the new role of managing the directives for the brand that started in late 2015. The well-respected rapper has proven countless times over the years that his rhymes are unfuckwitable – here is no one else that better fits this job. Him and Kanye West both understand that it is bigger than just the music. It’s about the culture.
“It’s merely about carrying on with tradition, high quality music and high quality art, being of the culture, engaging the fans more … That’s really my thing. That’s really what I want to do with regards to the presidency over at G.O.O.D. Music.” – Pusha T on his GOOD Music presidency
It will be exciting to see the direction that Pusha T will take GOOD Music in. There are still artists on the label that haven’t seen the full spotlight yet, such as Chyi The Prynce and Teyana Taylor. Both have seen themselves on Cruel Summer, GOOD Music’s first collaborative album, but it feels like the potential between those two, and other artists in the collective are just waiting to surface at any moment.
Pusha T will also be given the difficult task to try and show the world that GOOD Music is not just subjected to only one genre of art and to continue to push for innovation and creativity that will ultimately influence culture. Additions like Hxlt and Kacy Hill bring uniqueness and break the status quo but it will be up to the management to properly guide these new young artists.
Pusha T brings poise, attitude, progression, and all kinds of different aspects to the company.With the new role, he definitely has some big shoes to fill. But if Kanye West believes that Pusha is up for the role, then there should be no doubt in his ability to keep the standards at a high level.
Notable Posse Showings
BET Awards – GOOD Music Cypher
June 27th, 2010
Award shows can be boring. 2-3 hours of awkward monologues, lengthy acceptance speeches and sometimes cringe-worthy TV performances. However, the BET Awards likes to do it differently. Notably hosted by DJ Premier, hip-hop cyphers have carried the weight of the show showcasing what the genre has to offer. There’s always something special about cyphers; whether rhymes are spit off the top of the dome or pre-written verses are recited over a different beat. The atmosphere certainly possesses an intense competitiveness that draws in people to give a second thought when they hear rappers on the mic.
The epic round-table featuring Kanye West, Pusha T, Big Sean, Cyhi The Prynce and Common was probably the first highlight moment for the label as far as a collective musical act goes. Years later, it’s obvious now that most of their verses were pre-written but it didn’t stop them from creating the necessary hype for years to come. Donning the formal-suit attire, the crew busted out some of their most creative bars and prematurely claimed their spot in the hip-hope world.
Cruel Summer: The Film
May 23rd, 2012
This may be a surprise to some, but there was a movie that featured the GOOD Music crew. With Kanye West exclusively directing the film, this 7-screen experience (yes, 7 fucking screens) short film fused together art, music and film into a 35 minute long orgasmic visual.
Here’s the plot: Loosely based on Arabian folk tales, Rafi (Kid Cudi) is a high-end car thief who falls in love with a blind princess. In order for them to get married, Rafi must pass 3 challenges presed on by the Princess’ father.
The film was premiered at the 2012 Cannes Film Festival in Cannes, France. With creative direction from DONDA, the experience involved a custom pyramid-shape pavillion for the screening. Just when they thought he couldn’t do any more (music producer, music artist, fashion designer), Kanye and the rest of GOOD Music proves to the world that anything is possible. For those who wish to watch it: goodluck, it was made for 7 screens.
Complex – GOOD Music’s Magazine Cover/Cover Story
A New York based media platform, Complex has been known to impact youth culture more commonly by their daily news segments broadcasted through Complex TV and their bi-monthly magazine. With the wheels lining up perfectly en route to Cruel Summer’s album release in September 2012, the August/September 2012 issue of Complex magazine took the GOOD Music crew as headliners. To being on the front cover to the illustrious photo shoot and the backstage videos, this experience helped reach out to the masses that were just starting to hear about them.
With the likes of Kanye, Pusha, Cudi, Common, Sean, Legend and more contributing to this project, the gears were set in place to release one of the most anticipated albums that year. At that point in time those who knew about GOOD Music could only reference them to as great musicians. But with the Complex cover also came the creative work from DONDA, Kanye West’s multi-faceted integrated media content company named after his last mother, Donda West. DONDA’s role sparked a whole new line of creative ideas within the culture. Kanye West is a prime example but now it’s been more evident with examples like Big Sean’s and Pusha T’s endeavors into fashion.
Cruel Summer – The Album
September 14, 2012
This is GOOD Music’s first and ever compilation album, comprising of 12 songs that was worked on by artists signed by the label as well as some well known affiliates. Just some of the names included R. Kelly, Jay-Z, Ghostface Killah, Raekwon, 2 Chainz, DJ Khaled and Chief Keef.
The depth chart (in terms of sounds) runs deeper than a football field. From hard hitting tracks like Don’t Like (Remix) and New God Flow to more melodic sing-a-longs like The One and Bliss. Cruel Summer was the sonic representation of GOOD Music. It showed the diversity of the group through the rapping, through the singing and through the cohesiveness of each artist collaborating on each track on the album.
This was an ode to the fans, to the haters, to the critics, to the Kanye West stans and to the Kid Cudi stans. There was no group at the time that could recreate what GOOD Music had made. The excitement and success of this project would eventually lead into lost hope [with a sequel being in talks for years now], however it created a culture of collaboration and probably influenced many artists to change their old creative processes to a more integrated web of thoughts and ideas.
GOOD Music invested a lot of time, energy, effort and production into cultivating their brand for the last several years. It’s evident that 2012 was GOOD Music’ year. With everything that happened, the anticipation behind the Cruel Summer album release couldn’t have been more epic. Since then however, it almost feels like GOOD Music hasn’t played a huge role in the music industry… or have they?
The culture of GOOD Music seems to be keyed into the idea of collaboration. We’ve seen Big Sean lend his skills as a guest feature on who knows how many songs over the years (Jhene Aiko, Travis Scott, Eminem, Justin Bieber just to name a few). Kanye West undoubtedly is guilty of such act, going beyond being a guest feature to producing countless songs and albums (John Legend, Jay-Z, Drake). It seems like GOOD Music is all for the idea of having ‘good music’. There are definitely a multitude of talented artists that aren’t signed to GOOD Music, but collaboration has led to different opportunities to create better music for everyone.
GOOD Music has added some unique pieces to their group. Pusha T is now the president of GOOD Music. We all wish that someday Cruel Summer gets released. Even after so many years, there’s still so much to be excited about when it comes to the future of this brand. Whatever comes to shore will definitely sweep us off our feet. We’ve already been riding the wave for this long now. It’s only a matter of time until it hits us in the face. “Look at god”.