First Jay and Ye break up, now every day I wake up, another rap friendship withers before our eyes.
We’re light years away from 2010, folks, when G.O.O.D. Music, one of the hardest, most promising collectives in rap, was working together cohesively. Of course, the decline truly began when Kid Cudi left three years ago, when he started feeling left out in studio sessions for the crew’s album Cruel Summer. His most lasting contribution to that project is a GIF of him dancing in the “Mercy” video, a song that doesn’t even feature his vocals, a sharp decline from his bounty of crucial contributions to 2010's G.O.O.D. Fridays (Which are held in higher critical regard than anything on Summer). Then, this past winter slowly twisted the knife when Cudi’s seeming return to G.O.O.D. had us fucked up that some grand reunion was in store. The prodigal Kid was back, bestowing his sorcery on “Father Stretch My Hands Pt. 1” and then in subsequent studio sessions for Kanye’s next, still-unreleased album. Pusha T seemed poised to galvanize the crew to seize their true potential as the newly minted label president. Travis Scott seemed willing to be the livewire spark to set it all off, much like Big Sean did in 2012.
Fast forward to the waning days of 2016. Scott promised the long-delayed sequel album Cruel Winter at the top of ’17, but at press time that looks about as likely as a sequel to Birdman and Lil Wayne’s Like Father, Like Son. Kid Cudi tweet-vented frustration at Big Brother Ye in September, then checked himself into rehab for depression shortly thereafter. He also sent tweets bigging up his close friend Dot Da Genius during Dot’s messy, public split from Jhene Aiko, tweets that simultaneously disparaged her new man...Cudi’s ex label-mate and fellow Tree of Kanye sibling, Big Sean. Cudi has yet to comment on Big Sean’s lines about their rift on his new, sorta paradoxical song “No More Interviews.” But Cudi did find time to send some aggressive, reactionary tweets to Drake for the clear shots Drizzy took on his new song “Two Birds, One Stone,” a song that also finds Drake aiming at President Push. G.O.O.D. Music founder Kanye West’s latest recording activity has been...a joint album with Drake.
How did G.O.O.D. Music go from being one of the most formidable squads to acting out an Empire storyline? Are CyHi the Prynce and Mr. Hudson even alive? How does Desiigner feel about all of this? One certainly doesn’t envy Pusha T as the man with the impossible task of putting all the pieces back together. Maybe he was too busy writing the diss track that will finally ignite the Drake beef we’re waiting for to see the warning signs. But they were there, and they’ve been there, to be honest. The team dropped a certified heater in June, “Champions,” only to let the momentum fizzle away with nary a music video or follow-up single. Pusha’s effort shows—September’s post-Yeezy Season 4 crew show signaled renewed effort. It also notably lacked appearances from Sean and Scott.
No one in G.O.O.D. is on the same page right now. At best, that suggests an interest in prioritizing solo moves over the crew. At worst, they’re calling each other out on social media and at live shows, like Cudi and Kanye, or tactfully addressing the estrangement on wax, like Big Sean—“It hurt to hit the internet and find out/that you and me don’t fuck with each other/over a miscommunication that could probably be fixed with a/5-minute conversation/I’m still praying for ya though.”
The 2010 vibes of working on Kanye’s album, their own projects, AND fooling around in the studio to feed the streets every Friday are long gone. What’s happening to G.O.O.D. Music? It’s imploding before our eyes. Any notion of things going back to how they were is a dark fantasy at this point. Cruel winter, indeed.