As listeners, we are given many roles by musicians. Their albums can beg us to come along on a journey through their youth, they can also simply wish for us to indulge through their words, a lifestyle we will never experience. But, so few times have we been invited on an intergalactic adventure by someone that seems convincingly not of this world. We are familiar with most things of this Earth and therefore have a certain image of self we find within most artists we listen to. This relationship is likely lost when we are faced with something we are not familiar with and have little to base our perception off of. The person who handed out the invitation on this space conquest happened to be Kid Cudi on his debut album, Man On The Moon: The End Of Day.
Returning to the topic of familiarity now, that is actually what makes Cudi’s album so intriguing, the sole fact that it is not. We weren’t familiar with the man himself upon the release for this project and he boldly makes his entrance a conceptual one. Opening with an entrance to our protagonists dreams we hear the highly electronic sound construction that carries us through to the philosophical narration by Common which is a nice touch. We slingshot into Cudi’s problems, which are assuredly not related to any females but rather are deep rooted in his family’s less than fortunate history. Distorted guitar chords begin to lift the sound to the outer atmosphere.
From the deeply personal to the profoundly simple on ‘Simple As…’, Cudi explains his humanity through his desires of women and weed over drums an interestingly spacey-sampled voice that is counting and starting the alphabet to reiterate Cudi’s simplicity as a man. The intrigue begins climb as his dreams turn into nightmares, represented by tracks like ‘Solo Dolo’ and ‘Day n’ Nite’ which contain some of the projects most incredible sounds. Pounding drums that hit all the more harshly over light pianos and strings which are all backed by intense distortions. His earnestness and comfort are instantly opposed by loneliness and desperation. By electronically tuning his voice, he adds further to the guise of outer space and it fills this void in his heart and mind with sound.
His verses consist of clandestine thoughts that seem to rumble out of his mouth alongside his “hmmms” and “ooos”. His raps come across as streams of consciousness that don’t always rhyme but are always rhythmically on point. He repeats words and phrases which drive home this idea that we are inside of his dreams, separated from reality. Syllables of his words are stretched with synths and tandem with percussion. Nothing here is ordinary but thoughts and emotions are still tied to Cudi’s lifestyle, ambitions and fears. Past that, anything can happen and this erraticness is what we are hearing when Cudi battles his nightmares and his reality with marijuana and psychedelics.
This journey an optimistically pessimistic one that has Cudi reaching for joy around the darkness, but at least he’s trying. It’s dark, it’s depressing, it’s happy, it’s uplifting and it sounds like almost nothing else out there; but it’s definitely “out there”. A space-out journey through the mind of a conflicted artist sounds semi-typical, but believe me, it’s anything but. Cudi is a stoner with the capacity to put his medicated thoughts into a musical and tonal form, and it works beautifully.