Label: GOOD Music/Def Jame
Saving grace: "Mercy"
Clunker: "Sin City"

G.O.O.D. Music's Cruel Summer is a lot like the 2003-2004 Los Angeles Lakers' season. For those to whom that analogy is confusing, the 2004 Lakers boasted four sure fire Hall of Famers (Kobe, Shaq, Karl Malone, and Gary Payton) but lost in the Finals. Both the Lakers and Cruel Summer were chock full of stars and had sky-high expectations but ultimately suffered from a lack of chemistry and depth.

Just like the Lakers, Cruel Summer's starting five (the first five songs on the album) are excellent. It features two of the biggest rap singles in recent memory ("Mercy" and "Clique"), two awesome songs for more hardcore hip-hop fans ("New God Flow" and "The Morning"), and an R. Kelly feature ("To the World").

But after solo Kanye cut, "Cold," it gets rough. The remaining songs range from forgettable ("Higher" or "The One") to regrettable ("Don't Like"). On top of that, the album sounded less like a collaborative effort and more like dudes sending .mp3 files back and forth. Ultimately the expectations were too high and Cruel Summer lost to the Detroit Pistons the music couldn't live up to the hype.Max Goldberg