Review : KiD CuDi - Man on the Moon II: The Legend of Mr. Rager
SputnikmusicI can't help but feel a certain sense of disappointment in Kid Cudi, and it doesn't have as much to do with the album The Legend Of Mr. Rager as it does with the fact that the way I perceived Scott Mescudi the person has been shattered in light of his recent choices. I'm not one to care so much about the lifestyles of musicians as long as the music is good - especially with rappers, whom I relate to less as a rule - but his first album seemed to me a singular event in the world of hip-hop. Here was a man who, instead of bragging about doing or dealing coke, bragged about how he refuses to do coke. He was able to bear his emotions to his audience without resorting to brash, hyperbolic claims; instead of listening to him because he claimed to be the greatest, people listened to him because they could see a little bit of themselves in him. For an album that was supposed to be about Cudi's dreams, The End Of Day was remarkably introspective, shedding light on his fears and insecurities; because of this, when he did start in with the bragging, it actually seemed legitimate because of his willingness to put his whole self on display, not just the good parts. Surprising, to say the least, for such a young rapper to establish himself in that way when mainstream hip-hop seems to increasingly be about who can find the most creative way to say "I'm the best rapper alive" and wholly believe it.
To put it simply, I found something in Kid Cudi that I could respect. His talent was a big part of that respect, but it went beyond that. There was something incredibly endearing about imagining a rapper laying alone in his bedroom, feeling down and insecure. I had never really seen a rapper in that way before. It brought out a whole new side to his music; it wasn't just something to groove to, it was something to get lost in. He certainly wasn't the most agile wordsmith, but The End Of Day was very cohesive; everything fit perfectly, which is more important than any singular lyrical achievement. Cudi seemed like someone who was well on his way to controlling his destiny, to being someone who could shoot off legitimate artistic statements effortlessly. Unfortunately it turned out to be the same old story with Cudi - drink fame to the dregs and you realize how bitter it is. The man who once rapped "Ignorance to coke, man, ignorance is bliss; ignorance is love and I need that shit," cultivated a cocaine addiction merely to get through public appearances and interviews, and was arrested for drug possession, smashing a woman's cell phone, and ripping her apartment door off its hinges.
It stands to reason that because of everything that's happened, The Legend Of Mr. Rager would be a dark album. Though that fact was predictable, the album is anything but: leave it to Kid Cudi to pull off a post-downward spiral album without making every single song about how much he's been through or how hard it was or how much better he is now. Despite not really knowing what a metaphor is (in a recent interview with Complex magazine, he was asked about the Wale lyric "Throwin' 'round wallets like the dude that Kid Cudi hit," and he responded by saying "Why would you even use that as a metaphor?" and then he called himself a wizard), he is quite good at turning his feelings and experiences into songs that perfectly describe them without explicitly referring to them. The themes that were present on Man On The Moon - loneliness, detachment, isolation - are still here but the context is different. Going back to interviews from 2008 and 2009, Cudi described himself as a class clown in school, someone who was popular and fit in, but who also felt separate from everyone else. How sad it is that Cudi made it to the top and still felt the same way - especially after going through everything that he has in this past year....full text
SlantmagazineStructured as a five-act show with interludes, narrated by Common, and featuring guest spots from indie and hip-hop royalty, Kid Cudi's debut, Man on the Moon: The End of Day, was an audacious and idea-driven introduction to the stoner savant's brand of leftfield hip-hop. All the more ironic, then, that one of its most memorable tracks was the Gaga-sampling "Make Her Say," a crass but clever posse cut which wasn't the least bit trippy or metaphysical—just three guys swapping sex jokes over a sample from the acoustic version of "Poker Face." One-off or not, you might think that the song's success would have taught Cudi something about how to integrate his oddball aesthetic into the mainstream: Dial down the theatrical moping, show more generosity of hooks and humor, and maybe settle for expanding hip-hop's borders rather than aiming to reinvent the genre in one go.
Of course, Cudi has spent enough time with his superstar mentor, Kanye West, that he could plot a trajectory to superstardom without my advice. And so I have to look at Man on the Moon II: The Legend of Mr. Rager as a testament to Cudi's slightly misguided sense of integrity, as he once again passes on the commercial breakthrough that is rightfully his, preferring to be a distant universe of one than circle in anyone else's orbit. The sequel actually finds Cudi burrowing deeper into the black hole of spacey psychedelia, fusing the clinical, synthetic hip-hop of 808s & Heartbreak with rock sounds derived from Hendrix, Pink Floyd, and Zappa. The most obvious rock homage, "Erase Me," is a flat-out embarrassment (it aims for a '70s-rock pastiche but sounds more like '90s mall-punk a la Lit or New Found Glory), but mostly the hybrid production style proves an atmospheric and eerie delight.
"Maniac," for example, twists St. Vincent's "The Strangers" around Cudi's own wicked guitar licks for an unsettling highlight, and his six-string skills add just the right touch of discord to the string-driven "GHOST!," a spooky slow jam engineered by No I.D. (which, to the producer's credit, sounds totally distinct from his recent work with Drake and West). It's all genuinely exciting stuff; in fact, the production, most of which is done by Cudi's manager, Emile, almost unbalances the album, as Cudi's vocals rarely engage as well as the somnambulant funk over which he's rapping. What his flows lack in athleticism, his singing certainly doesn't make up for in tunefulness, and the half-rapped, half-sung style that he adopts for the majority of the album doesn't impress on either level. Leave it to Cudi to release a freakishly ambitious rap album but forget to include much in the way of good rapping....full text
PrefixmagThis Cleveland native initially wanted to deliver a sophomore album that was a little more straightforward hip-hop than what was heard on his genre-jumping 2009 debut, Man on the Moon: The End of Day. But somewhere along the line, rapper-singer Kid Cudi bailed on those plans and instead opted to create a sequel to his freshman effort. But where his debut focused on visions of his dreams and nightmares, Man on the Moon 2: Legend of Mr. Rager's intent is to bring you into Cudi's reality. And, apparently, the good and the bad parts of his life are on here, according to an interview with HipHopDX. He's again joined by a varied production squad that includes Kanye West, No I.D., the Neptunes, Ratatat, and Jim Jonsin. West also makes an appearance as a featured vocalist along with Cage, St. Vincent, and Chip Tha Ripper....full text
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