What Is 'Cruel Winter'? The History Of Kanye's 'Cruel Summer' Sequel Is Long & Confusing
If you're a big fan of Yeezy, then you might already be aware that the mythological musical beast known as Kanye West's Cruel Winter has finally been confirmed as coming soon, and, after a long four-year wait, news of its upcoming arrival is not a second too soon. The long rumored follow-up to 2012's G.O.O.D. Music Compliation Cruel Summer has provided fans with a frustrating guessing game as to when it would be made or whether it would even be released, with contradictory statements being released over the past four years as to when and if it would ever happen. Understandably, all the mixed messages that have followed the long-awaited album may have left you wondering when will Cruel Winter be released? Looking back at the history of the project, I can hardly blame you.
Presently, renewed speculation surrounding the collaboration album hit the internet on Tuesday via some revealing social media posts which sent the rumor mill back into overdrive. Beginning with an Instagram photo, posted by Puff Daddy's personal valet Fonzworth Bentley, appearing to show Yeezy in the studio followed by the hashtag #CruelWinter and a caption that reads, "Happening Now," the news couldn't have been more blatant.
Adding further fuel to the Cruel fire were some Snapchat videos captured by TeamKanyeDaily's Instagram account which revealed Kanye and Big Sean in the studio together, listening back with excitement over tracks that they'd just finished recording. Then, on Friday, Kanye officially confirmed that Cruel Winter is on its way and premiered the lead single, "Round And Round," from the album on Los Angeles’ Real 92.3. The song features what Kanye called "the Avengers of rap" who are namely, Big Sean, 2 Chainz, Gucci Mane, Travis Scott, Quavo, Desiigner, and Yo Gotti. This is big, you guys. And it's been a long time coming.
Cruel Winter has been rumored to have been in production ever since 2012, with gossip circling that the Cruel Summer follow-up album may have been in production to arrive in a timely fashion that winter. An alleged trailer for Cruel Winter even emerged online in early November of that year, but it was quickly debunked as having nothing to do with West, instead being made by filmmaker Austin Christianson. In an interview with DJ Semtex, Big Sean explained:
Without getting into too many details, I will say that the trailer was independently made and the video is essentially a concept trailer. It's used for pitching an idea and/or concept to a client. With that said, the video was being used for pitching purposes and it's naturally intended only for the client to see.
Mysterious, right? Winter of 2012 came and went with no sign of the anticipated album, and, in 2013, the secrecy surrounding the project appeared to produce a number of conflicting statements from many of the artists involved in Cruel Summer. At the start of the year, G.O.O.D. Music rapper Common appeared to halt rumors dead in their infancy by stating to Vulture, "I don’t think that’s happening. It was more of a rumor — cats been creating, but everybody’s been doing their solo album. So that’s what that is."
Pusha T then continued to confirm such disappointing speculation (while maintaining a desperate glimmer of hope) later in the month when he told MTV News, "I believe that there were intentions for a Cruel Winter and there's so much music floating, but G.O.O.D. Music isn't one to just piece a project together." Luckily Travis Scott remained positive about the project, telling MTV News:
Until I hear ’Ye be like, ’It’s not coming out’ then that’s when I can say it’s ’not coming out’ ... Maybe it’s not right now, maybe it’s not next year, but you can expect one for sure
In 2013, of course, Kanye memorably released the goliath Yeezus, and talk of the G.O.O.D. Music follow-up appeared to become overshadowed by the album, but it wasn't enough to diminish anticipation for it. In November of that year, he raised hope that Cruel Winter was still a possibility but that timing was working against its release, telling Power 99, "We think about it, I go back and forth on it. We just keep missing the winter, that's the only problem. We thinking 'bout dropping a Cruel Winter."
A torturous 2014 brought little to no sign of the album being released that winter, but the next year would bring positive indications of its production. In October 2015, Travis Scott posted a teasing Instagram photo with the suggestive caption, "Travis x Kanye Soon" followed by a second with the chin stroking caption, "We got something we been plotting for years now that's about to surface." This, along with rumored track lists for Cruel Winter, seemed to show irrefutable signs of some sort of progress, whether the album would drop that winter or not.
Which brings us to where we are today. With such an ambitious team of musical artists involved in the production of Cruel Winter (along with Kanye's scrupulous perfectionism), it's pretty understandable that the album has been delayed for the amount of time that it has been. What's most curious, however, about it's final and official confirmation is that we're hearing about it in the sunshine, summer vibes of June. If part of the delay has in fact been due to the desire to release the album within the appropriate and timely season of winter, then it feels a little strange to be hearing about it while the temperatures are soaring and sun's blazing outside. All that matters, though, is that it's finally, finally here.