G.O.O.D. Music Record Label Tries to Remain On Top of its Game
Issue   |   Tue, 04/10/2018 - 21:50
Photo courtesy of flickr.com
Kanye West (pictured above), founder of the G.O.O.D. Music record label, performs at a showcase concert during the South by Southwest Festival (SXSW) in 2011.

In 2012, Kanye West’s record label, G.O.O.D. Music (short for Getting Out Our Dreams), released one of the most emphatic label-wide collaborations ever with “Cruel Summer.” Though it was not critically acclaimed — few compilation albums are — “Cruel Summer” spawned some of the most ubiquitous songs of the decade, namely “Mercy” and “Clique,” and effectively positioned G.O.O.D. Music as the premier record label in hip-hop in the early 2010s.

But now it’s 2018, and one has to question whether this is still the case. After the release of Kanye West’s “The Life of Pablo” in 2016, Kanye and others on the label teased the release of a “Cruel Summer” sequel, “Cruel Winter,” with the release of the single “Champions.” The record was not only supposed to showcase some of the label’s older stars but also usher in a new era headed by G.O.O.D. Music’s younger talents such as Desiigner of “Panda” fame. However, since that first single, G.O.O.D.

Music has flown under the radar, relatively speaking. The last major release — excluding Big Sean and Metro Boomin’s 2017 collaboration “Double or Nothing” — was Big Sean’s fourth album “I Decided,” which came out in the fall of 2016. Desiigner, who released a series of singles supposedly leading up to his debut album “The Life of Desiigner,” has kept quiet. And Pusha T, another G.O.O.D. Music heavyweight and current president of the label, has delayed and delayed the release of his own album. So, it seems reasonable to ask, what has G.O.O.D. Music been up to?

Well, Pusha T hasn’t remained completely idle. It seems he has been quietly signing the next generation of G.O.O.D. Music artists to replace such losses as Kid Cudi and John Legend. Among these new artists are Valee, 070 Shake and Sheck Wes, who have all had G.O.O.D. Music releases this spring.

Valee is a Chicago-based rapper, who signed with the label this February. On March 2, he released the six-track “GOOD Job, You Found Me” EP. On “GOOD Job, You Found Me,” Valee makes the most of the EP’s crunched 15-minute runtime to show off a diverse array of flows. This skill is perhaps the most impressive feature of the tape, seeing as most of the beats are relatively similar. The record takes a grimy approach that finds Valee rhyming over bass-heavy, minimalistic beats.
Nevertheless, “GOOD Job, You Found Me” is somewhat inconsistent, as Valee’s flows vary just as much in quality as they do in style.

Songs like “Juice & Gin,” “Miami” and “Vlone” are clear indications of Valee’s potential. With a unique voice, sometimes-comical lyrics and catchy choruses, Valee hypnotizes his listeners. The other three songs on the tape, however, are slightly disappointing. They range from “way too repetitive for a two-minute song” to brazenly ignorant — though it would be hard to say Valee is ever the sensitive type. Overall, “GOOD Job, You Found Me” is a not-half-bad attempt that shows some potential for a full-length album.

Shortly after “GOOD Job, You Found Me,” 070 Shake, another new G.O.O.D. Music signee, released her own commercial EP “Glitter.” 070 Shake is 19-year-old artist from New Jersey, who gained some traction with singles like “Sunday Night” and “Rewind” featuring Lil Yachty. She has managed to carve out a lane of her own in the hip-hop world with her signature deep, smoky, melodic voice and dark and moody songs.

On “Glitter” she continues to hone her style. The tape is a strong, cohesive effort from 070 Shake and will certainly be a welcome listen by fans of her past work. Over the six songs on the EP, 070 Shake raps about her battles with addiction and depression as well as her feelings around love and sexuality. Her voice, imbued with the pain of a troubled past, is absolutely haunting. The closing track, “Glitter,” serves as the capstone of the project, detailing the inconsistency between her musical success and her on-going struggles with mental health.

Nevertheless, the EP does have some weak points. The first two tracks, “I Laugh When I’m With Friends But Sad When I’m Alone” and “Someone Like Me,” open with crescendos that seem to just build and build, leaving the listener waiting for the “drop” for far too long. In fairness though, when the drops — a refrain from 070 Shake and a heavy-hitting verse from 070 Phi — do arrive, they are extremely satisfying.

Though “Glitter” is a solid EP, it does prompt a little concern about 070 Shake’s ability to create a full-length album. Most songs on the EP are slow burning, and her signature melodic singing and rapping doesn’t vary much from track to track. It will certainly be interesting to see where she goes from here. Her subject material is rich, and she will only gain more musical experience working with a label like G.O.O.D. Music.

The final G.O.O.D. Music artist, Sheck Wes, has not yet released a commercial project, but his singles have been making waves in hip-hop. Earlier this year, Sheck Wes signed a joint record deal with G.O.O.D. Music and Cactus Jack Records, Travis Scott’s label. Since then, Sheck Wes has only released one song, the single “Do That.” However, G.O.O.D. and Cactus Jack also took over distribution for his summer 2017 standout track, “Mo Bamba.”

On “Mo Bamba” and “Do That,” Sheck Wes is charismatic, erratic and intense. He quickly changes from cool and collected to wilding out on a dime. His deep, steady voice carries the menacing choruses. He uses excessive adlibs and employs a variety of flows ranging from triplet flow to distorted screaming. In short, both songs are certified bangers. Sheck Wes definitely has potential to blow up, though it remains to be seen how versatile he is with regard to different styles.

With most of big dogs of G.O.O.D. Music remaining quiet and “Cruel Winter” nowhere in sight, some fans have started to wonder whether the label can stay at the top of the rap game. Nevertheless, some of the young and fresh signees are starting to make ripples. Valee, 070 Shake and Sheck Wes have already shown Kanye West and Pusha T that they have promise. Now they are trying to show the world the same. Their singles and EPs are a GOOD start.