Kid Cudi. Where do I begin? The Cleveland rapper began his career as another Kanye West protege. However, while many of Kanye’s proteges have faded into obscurity, Kid Cudi has stuck around. It’s easy to understand why. Kid Cudi is a hit with the so-called “Backpack” crowd: hip hop fans who listen to artists who aren’t “gangsta” or otherwise. Kid Cudi’s first album, Man On the Moon, was a backpack rap magnum opus, despite the fact that the album was a bloated, egotistical, self-absorbed exercise in self-pity. Hits like “Soundtrack 2 My Life” and “Day N Nite” were definitely great songs, but the album couldn’t help but fail under the weight of Cudi’s own ego. For his follow-up, the even more self-importantly titled Man on the Moon Part II; Cudi delivered an even more self-absorbed, bizarre, barely listenable disc. Cudi has been gaining more ground with his fans, delivering a few hits that seem to get back to his Man on the Moon part one days, but its hard to see how Indicud would be any difference.
Well, Indicud has leaked. Unfortunately, this is a continuation of Cudi’s past artistic output. Whats most infuriating is that there are quite a few great moments on this album. The first two tracks on the album are phenomenal set-up tunes. The slow buildup that is “The Resurrection of Scott Mescudi” and the dark brooding nonsense that is “Unf*ckwitable” make two great intro songs that get you in the mood for a tense, brooding album. This is where Kid Cudi is at his best: when his production takes prominence and his terrible, absolutely nonsense lyrics take the backseat to simply sounding cool.
However after these two songs, things begin to derail quickly. “Just What I Am”, after a passable verse from fellow Cleveland rapper King Chip (the artist formerly known as Chip da Ripper), devolves into a barely listenable robotic nonsense song. And then it gets worse. “Young Lady” takes a great Father John Misty sample and turns into an un-listenable dump. Cudi begins to sing-rap over a sonic mess of synths and guitars. What Cudi needs to learn about production is that you cannot have so many sounds competing for your attention. While sometimes this approach works, like on “King Wizard”, and “Solo Dolo Part II”, most times it simply does not.
“Solo Dolo Part II” is a great example of what makes Kid Cudi so infuriating to me as an artist. The song starts with an unintelligible verse from Kid Cudi, which hi-lights his weakness as a rapper. He sounds buried under his own beat, and in the moments where the beat pauses for a second and focuses on Cudi’s rapping, the listener is almost assaulted by Cudi’s absolute nonsense. Then, after a terrible minute and thirty seconds or so, Kendrick Lamar comes in and delivers a great verse. Where Cudi is stifled under his own beat, Kendrick takes the beat and uses it to his advantage. He spins the beat around and assaults you from all angles with it, using the confusion to make you feel confused and insecure. While Kendrick makes you confused, Kid Cudi can’t help but be confused.
Simply put, Kid Cudi isn’t a good enough rapper to pull off an 18 song album. All of the guest artists kill him on his own tracks, from Wu-Tang’s the RZA to Too $hort. While Cudi’s rapping is terrible, his production has something to it. Some tracks have great beats, and with a better rapper, they would be great songs. However, Cudi simply cannot handle his own beat-smithing. Fans of his last two albums will certainly find something to love here, but if you’re in the same boat as me, expect to be frustrated yet again.