Big collaborations amongst a strong group of individuals can either go brilliantly or flop epically. The return of G.O.O.D. Music boasts the likes of Kanye West, 2 Chainz, Travis Scott, and more. Lead single from the follow up of the 2012 debut Cruel Summer 'Champions' shines the light on the fame of these artists and what their stardom has brought them. The question is, is this song conceited and cocky, or rightfully optimistic?
Before delving into the overarching questions this song beckons, the instrumental has to be accounted for. It's banging. Cinematic synths fill the verse instrumentals, creating a big party vibe. Deep bass synths provide the track its powerful low end, creating lots of space between the deep groans of the bass and the high dancing chords of the main synth. The track's beat is perhaps the least notable thing about the instrumental, incidentally. The synths do all the work here. The beat does take over during certain parts, such as behind Big Sean's big verse, where the beat takes a solo before the synth returns in the same pattern.
The track is pretty evenly split - half of the verses are great, and the other half are awful. The good half sees the song's subject in a thankful light; or, at least, in a non-conceited way. Quavo's verse is the in between - it has no clear side, and it's more neutral if anything. It merely discusses the media's interpretation of his fame, referencing his fame as a source of attraction in the world. Kanye West, ironically, has one of the more grateful verses on the track. He discusses how his outwardness is what crafts him; he says things no one else would dare to say. He then switches subjects to say he has overcome his difficulties and the nonbelievers in the lines "I done lost and made money / Now I'm makin' somethin' they can't take from me / And I'm fresh out of debt in this mothafucka! / And they still ain't ready yet for a mothafucka," the alleged fourteen million dollar debt he was in being easily paid off by the success of his more recent material. Big Sean's verse is, also ironically, probably the best on the album. It is charged and fiery, putting forward his fame like the bullets to his loaded gun of his words. He attacks his opposition (the haters, as it were) with his fast-flowing verse, even going as far to claim he's sorry their hatred can't best him: "Look, I say a prayer for my enemies / They cannot slow down what's meant for me." It's just a generally badass verse. The chorus is sung by Travis Scott, very fittingly placed on top of the deep bass synths which compliment the layers of vocals and harmonies, meanwhile the lyrics serve as a bridge between the good and bad perspectives of fame.
The rest of the collaborators bring the track down in the second half of the song. Desiigner's ad libs on the subsequent choruses just ruin it, and it's his only contribution on the track! 2 Chainz's verse serves no other purpose than to say that every girl he's finds (including the one he's currently engaged with) will bring him to the next girl, and the cycle repeats. Yo Gotti delivers a very conceited verse next, the trashiness of the verse complimented by the tacky samples of "Yuh!" and throaty "Yeahs." Gucci Mane follows up without the transition of a chorus, and it honestly would have been a good verse had it not been for all the ridiculous sounds in the background and his pathetic attempts to try and vocalize the last few lines.
'Champions' is split straight down the center. The first half is worth listening to again and again, the verses strong and from grateful and restrained dispositions, while the second half is almost pathetically sad in how conceited it is. The track's purpose is to shine a light of all these "champions'" fame and how they see it, or, in some cases, how others see it. The choices the rappers made to either thank it or brag about it really crafted a hit-or-miss scenario. That being said, there's a lot of hope for the upcoming Cruel Winter. Lot's of it.