On Thursdays we review albums that are considered “classic”. No matter your personal thoughts on the man, or his music for that matter, Kid Cudi is an artist with the best of them. From the very beginning of his musical career, he has experimented with sounds that were foreign to both the mainstream and underground communities. His psychedelic, electronic beats were capable of providing equally uplifting and depressing soundscapes. For a bit of reassurance, Kanye West himself, said that Cudi was his “favorite artist living today”. His first major label release, Man On The Moon: End Of Day, was an album that gave hip-hop this first taste of ‘different’. Creativity abound left fans clamoring for Cudi’s promise of more. This came in the form of a direct follow-up, Man On The Moon 2: The Legend of Mr. Rager. From the moment you press play, the sounds grab you and maintain their grasp just as easily Cudi’s character seems to lose his as the story progresses. That aspect of story, in fact, is what made this five-act epic so enthralling. So often hip-hop artists release albums bereft of any cohesiveness and you are left feeling detached from the music. This album was so much more than just a collection of songs deemed good enough for an LP; they combine to form a narrative and expertly portray a musicians’ struggle with fame and reality.
Like any good story, the beginning which came in the form of ‘Scott Mescudi Vs. The World’, promises you a journey; one the likes of which you have never experienced before. The hook is handled by the soul-filled vocals of Cee-Lo Green chanting,
“This is a journey into the horizon, you can see past it if it’s real to you. We can meet on the other side, on the other side.”
Cudi’s harsh, low bass-filled vocals are a stark contrast to Cee-Lo’s signature, high-pitched sound; and it works, sounding something like you’d imagine music from another planet would sound like.
The album has Cudi coming to terms with his drug addictions. The track ‘Don’t Play This Song’, is a very interesting concept. He warns the viewer before they even hit play, but that warning only adds to the intrigue. You come to find out that the song is Cudi describing his battles with drug addiction and ends with his character feeling as though his problems won’t end unless he dies.
Tracks zip back and forth between acceptance and hatred of his drug abuse and there are even moments where he reaches a point of mental clarity like on the interlude track ‘We Aite (Wake Your Mind Up)’. Cudi closes act two on the album with the song ‘Marijuana’ which is not a gimmick, it’s simply about the love of his organic green friend; it also has one of the most chill vibes of any track on the album and rightfully so. The combination of the melodic piano chords and claps and chants are something you can just close your eyes and reflect to.
The third act is where Cudi indulges in his “party” lifestyle and is most focused on having a good time, regardless of the troubles fame brings, in relation to women or what others think of him. The fourth act is essentially the reflective come-down, it is marked by the incredible ‘MANIAC’. A sample from St. Vincent’s, ‘The Strangers’ is used flawlessly. The track can be uneasy to listen to, either because of the lyrical content or the eerie production. The title track, ‘Mr. Rager’ has been interpreted in a few different ways since the album’s release. I feel as though it is Cudi releasing his past life, accepting death, if that’s where he is heading. Regardless, the song’s low bass riffs and electronic combo are the perfect recipe to incite a little head-bobbing.
In the fifth and final act, things get especially depressing. The main character, Cudi, has accepted the fact that he will be alone and has to live with the consequences of his lifestyle. He is misunderstood yet believes he has himself pretty well understood; that’s good enough for our main character. All in all, this album takes you on a sappy journey of self-realization and it does it sonically in a way that had never been done before. If Kid Cudi has a niche, he found it with this album. Now, we get to await in hopeful fear that, Man on the Moon 3 gets released and is a worthy continuation of this darkly beautiful epic.