"If there’s a Cruel Summer, then there’s got to be a Cruel Winter, right?" That was the little nugget left by Q-Tip in a 2012 interview that sent the entire rap world into a united gasp.
It was around this time when Kanye West and his G.O.O.D. Music family released Cruel Summer, an album responsible for platinum-moving hits like "Mercy" and "Clique," so the news of a follow-up created quite the frenzy. However, what started off as excitement sent an entire legion of G.O.O.D. fans down in an emotional limbo. The on-again, off-again project laid dormant for about three years since Q-Tip's announcement, leaving room for projects like Yeezus, Hall of Fame, My Name Is My Name, Dark Sky Paradise, The Life of Pablo and more to rise. However, just like the Boogeyman, the mythical album once again came waltzing back under the spotlight, after a post on Snapchat by Fonzworth Bentley eventually morphed into the first official single from Cruel Winter, "Champions."
Now with a first single on iTunes and the team back in formation, it appears as though a Cruel Winter is real and upon us. But before we go clamoring in distressed Yeezy Season gear, please rest assured that we've been here before. In case you don't remember, allow us to take a trip back down the long, frustrating road of uncertainty left by Cruel Winter.
October 20, 2012: In an interview with HipHopSince87, Q-Tip reassures the reality of the album, revealing that he will be involved. "I can’t really let out too much details about it but yeah, I’ll be on there. Kanye… had the plan for that all the while."
October 26, 2012: While talking to DJ Semtex, Pusha T says this about Cruel Winter and Q-Tip's announcement: "_Cruel Winter, man, I don’t know. I know there are other records. I I don’t personally know about Cruel Winter. Later he goes, "That’s a Q-Tip [and] Kanye thing. Q-Tip and Kanye, they have conversations, I'm not made privy to those conversations. I come in, do my verses and I’m out. They have the collective sit-downs, war of the minds shit like that. He asked me to talk on it. I’m not sure. I don’t know. If 'Ye decides to do something like that, then I’m sure he has material and if he needs more, he knows one phone he can call and we can do that. But I'm not sure."
November 1, 2012: A mysterious (and sketchy) 0:54-second trailer hits online, entitled 'Cruel Winter.' Def Jam, Kanye and G.O.O.D. Music’s label home, would later state that the trailer had no association to the rumored compilation album. Days later, filmmaker Austin Christianson, who directed the short, reveals it was “independently made” and served as concept video "intended for only the client to see."
November 27, 2012: Months after Cruel Summer, Big Sean sits with DJ Semtex and teases the actuality of the follow-up sequel. "It can't be Cruel Spring. It's gotta be in a timely fashion," he said. “I know I did something for it, for Cruel Winter, and I was like 'Cotdamnit, I need to cut this for my album because it's really good.'
November 29, 2012: In an interview with Rolling Stone, John Legend says that he worked on a "couple of songs" for the LP. "We'll see what makes the final cut for that as well, but I’m definitely involved. I wrote a few hooks for it."
December 31, 2012: Courtesy of Malik Yusef -
January 23, 2013: "I don’t think that’s happening," Common tells New York magazine. "It was more of a rumor - cats been creating, but everybody’s been doing their solo album. So that’s what that is.” Later that month, Hit-Boy would tell Power 106, "Until I get that word from Kanye himself like 'we doing this,' then it’s not real. So it is what it is."
January 28, 2013: Courtesy of Travis Scott -
January 30, 2013: A week after Common’s statement, Pusha T tells MTV that Cruel Winter was "once a reality" and "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."
February 5, 2013: Just as the uncertainty hit peak levels, Travis Scott takes it upon himself in an interview with Complex to say: "I was just in Paris fucking with 'Ye and playing him shit [from Owl Pharaoh]. I don't wanna talk too much, but Cruel Winter is happening for real. Fuck what ni—as is talking about, that sh-t is for real. That sh-t is happening for sure." The rapper also says the first single off the project will be "I Got Bands," a song that would eventually become a feature on Owl Pharaoh featuring Meek Mill.
June 27, 2013: CyHi The Prynce furthers the anticipation, stating in an interview that Cruel Winter would arrive at the end of 2013. "We in negotiations with Def Jam," he said. "Sometimes they’re extra slow. We’re looking to put it out this year."
July 8, 2013: Dismissing the batch of rumors about the on-again, off-again status, Pusha T states the following to Charlotte radio station Power 98: "We're not doing the Cruel Winter album or the Cruel Summer sequel… There are too many projects we got going on."
July 10, 2013: Months after his initial tease, Travis Scott tells MTV that work was still underway for the LP. "Until I hear 'Ye be like, 'It's not coming out' then that's when I can say it's 'not coming out' but he still going ham. Maybe it's not right now, maybe it's not next year, but you can expect one for sure."
January 24, 2015: Mysterious video hits online purporting to be a glimpse at a G.O.O.D. Music EP, entitled Oh Holy, Why Won’t You Save Us? In the 45-second video, a snippet and tracklist is shown featuring names like Pusha T, Big Sean, John Legend, Jay Electronica, Common, Q-Tip, Pharrell and more.
December 2015: After the project laid dormant for years, Pusha T, newly appointed president of G.O.O.D. Music, is asked about the status of Cruel Winter in an interview with Rolling Stone. "[It’s] definitely on my mood board," he said. "I’m going to make that happen. That is a goal of mine and I reach my goals."
May 31, 2016: Fonzworth Bentley reminds the world that Winter is coming.
June 13, 2016: "Champions," a posse cut featuring Kanye, Big Sean, Travis Scott, Gucci Mane, Desiigner, Quavo, and Yo Gotti hit iTunes. The single is listed as the official single for Cruel Winter. In an earlier interview on Big Boy in the Morning, 'Ye also reveals the LP will feature a 15-minute version of Desiigner's "Panda" that includes a verse from every rapper on the G.O.O.D. roster.
September 7, 2016: Travis Scott reveals that he is set to executive produce the album. "Cruel Winter, I'm going to be executive producing that album," he told Hot 97's Ebro In the Morning. "It's coming very soon... I'm saying February."
And now, we wait...