Kid Cudi’s latest album, Man on the Moon II: The Legend of Mr. Rager, leaked over the weekend, and Sunset in the Rearview is here to provide a full review of the album. If you got your hands on the leaked album, like I did, please do not let this stop you from purchasing a hard copy of the album. Support the music industry. (I will be purcashing this album on vinyl.)
Kid Cudi has been telling the same story all along, but as time goes on, it gets a bit more concerning. This young man is sad, lonely, and dependent on drugs to get by. His song off his new album, Man on the Moon II: The Legend of Mr. Rager, “Marijuana,” says it all. Clocking in at exactly 4:20, Kid Cudi has made this one a ballad to what he makes out to be his only friend left, marijuana. “Pretty green bud / all in my blood / Ohh, I need it. […] I, I, I be on it all day like my nigga Big Boi said / that’s the only thing that keep me level up in my crazy head.” But perhaps little has changed in Kid Cudi’s style – I still find myself singing along with the hook each time it comes around. And maybe, despite his trip to the dark side, he will be okay – he reminds us at the end of the track, “It’s gon’ be okay. Trust me, it’s gon’ be okay.”
Despite what I find to be similarities, it’s obvious that people are going to say that it’s still not at the level that A Kid Named Cudi was. Maybe not, but let’s be honest. Kid Cudi is still producing songs that his incredibly dedicated fanbase will be nodding their heads and singing along to. Try to listen to “Mojo So Dope” without nodding along or tapping your foot. Sure, he has produced some tracks (“Erase Me”) that seem influenced by the higher powers, meaning they could be heard on the radio before you know it. But who appears on that track? Kanye West. Is it not Kanye West’s goal to take over the world? And how better to take over the world than to appear on the radio? In the music world, that’s often the answer.
When I think about what I miss from A Kid Named Cudi, it’s the sample-based music that I could effortlessly memorize every word of and sing along to the instant it came on the speakers. His music has ventured a little bit deeper into the darkness, and is more of his own. Some seem to be rebelling against this, and saying that his pen has run dry. Personally, I think it’s the direction his life has taken him in. He tells us himself in the opening track, “Scott Mescudi Vs. The World,” “Lost all my friends / Maybe they were never meant to be aquainted / money seems to make everything tainted.” He’s a victim of the industry’s harmful side effects, so perhaps we’ll never hear the same content that came with A Kid Named Cudi.
I don’t think we should hang our heads low and fear that Kid Cudi is lost or belittling himself and his abilities in the shadow of Kanye West and the rest of the music industry. Listen to the whole album through and you can still hear the dark, somewhat-off tracks such as “Wild’n Cuz I’m Young” that can equate to the bizarre tracks from A Kid Named Cudi. (What immediately comes to mind is “Whenever.”) And there are still a good amount of songs that have me singing along, most notably “REVOFEV,” “Mojo So Dope,” “Mr. Rager,” “All Along,” “Ghost,” and “Trapped In My Mind.”
I think the best song on this album might be “All Along,” particularly for its ability to tell his story and to sound like the original Cudi that we all know and love. On the album as a whole, there aren’t as many mentions as we’ve heard before of his family situation or maybe even his loneliness, but it’s still deep and it’s still dark. Some fans may be angry or disappointed by his stray from his original sound, but personally, I think he’s still the same guy, just deeper in his struggle against the world and its evils. He may not give us as much insight into his life beyond drugs, but the underlying tone on the album remains the same. Kid Cudi is still lonely, still stoned, and still making music that showcases his ability to rap in a sing-song manner about deep and dark issues that haunt him every day. Isn’t that what he’s always been about?
Song: “Marijuana” – Kid Cudi
Shout out to Pigeons and Planes for the Soundcloud Link.