I’ve been struggling a bit in the past couple weeks with the concept of maintaining this beloved blog that I’ve been running for over three years. My life seems to get crazier by the day, and juggling a full-time job, the commute to and from work every day, social gatherings, and just having time to myself here and there gets difficult. Finding time to put in blogging gets really hard, and like I said before, I don’t ever want to force anything.
I’ve thought a bit about quitting, you know…about letting go of the blog. It’s fucking sad to say, and it even makes me squirm when I type it here. This thing has been my obsession for the past three years, and to think about discontinuing it tears at my heartstrings. But I’ve just found that it’s really hard to manage with so many other things on my plate.
But today I’m here to say that I’m not giving up. Nope. Not me, not today. There are a lot of distractors, but then all of the sudden I come across something so beautiful, so different, so moving, that it reminds me once again what the point of this blog is. It reminds me why it’s WORTH taking time out of my life to maintain this blog and to share with you guys what I find to really be life-altering. It was beautiful music that got this started, and it is beautiful music that will keep it going.
Today I came across some of this music, and I’m here to share it with you guys.
I get really excited when I hear a song that sounds, for lack of a better description, a little different. Listening to so much new music every day can be tiring. A lot of it starts to sound the same, and it starts to blur in my mind a bit. What’s funny is that at times I’ll hear songs that don’t fit to a typical song structure (you know…chorus, three verses, a bridge), and I’ll immediately put it off as the works of people poorly versed in the study of music. But then some songs come along that don’t follow this structure and I praise their existence. But perhaps what’s more important than just the structure of the song is the sound of how it was put together.
A great example of this is a song off of Bowerbirds’ new album, called “In The Yard.” When I listen to this track, there are things that I hear and wonder if they intended to make it sound funny like that at times. I ask myself why it sounds a little off, or why the tempo changes so unexpectedly. And then I realize that they’re doing this completely on purpose. These guys have a mastery of the art of making music. And by doing these quirky things in their song, they’re keeping my attention the entire time. It’s creative, and by god it works. This song right here inspired this post, and it is something like this that inspires me to keep going.
Another great example of music that moved me today and reminded me why I love doing this so much is a song by Django Django called “Default.” Tell me this isn’t one of the more unique songs you’ve heard in a while. Is it electronic? Is it rock and roll? But wait. It’s folky, it’s twangy, and if it isn’t one of the catchier songs you’ve heard in a while, you might be crazy. I absolutely love it. Are these guys modern-day Fatboy Slim?
And lastly a video I received today of a live recording of The Barr Brothers performing their popular song, “Beggar in the Morning.” This one struck me as unique because of the visual experience. I can listen to a song like “Beggar in the Morning” and be mystified at the noises and the beauty of it, but it’s hard to really conceptualize what it took to put these noises together. In a session they did with KEXP, The Barr Brothers recreated the song, and we get to see all of the parts that form the whole. It’s truly beautiful, and without these visuals, I’m not sure I would have been able to appreciate this song to the same extent that I will now.
And to sum it up, thank you guys for being here to read what the Sunset Family has to say every day. If it weren’t for you guys, we’d have nothing to work for. So thank you, thank you.
I once tried to be something that I wasn’t.
It started with a trip I unwillingly took to a show at the Museum of Fine Arts in Houston with my mom. My boyfriend at the time was in town visiting and when my mom suggested that we go to the museum with her, it sounded like what could have been the worst idea of all time. Mom wasn’t having it. She made us go anyway. The exhibit was a collection of artwork from The Museum of Modern Art in New York while MOMA was renovating their space.
I’m pretty sure that I lost my boyfriend to a seat on a couch the second we walked in, but I decided to follow my mom and take a look around. After all, I had been dragged out there to begin with, I might as well see what all the fuss was about. I walked into a room full of Van Gogh’s, Pollock’s, Mondrian’s and I was immediately taken aback. The colors, the patterns, the feelings that came in the form of bursts of color, smooth brushes of paint, and intricate details caught not only my eye but also my emotions. All of the sudden I felt as though I could express my emotions that were so locked up in my high school body through something like this. In my mind it seemed as though modern art like this didn’t require an artistic mastery; it required a wealth of knowledge about yourself and how you can express your feelings. I had never been sure of how to express my feelings before.
Sure enough, I went back to school after that Christmas vacation and started painting. Emotions were all over the canvas. I was a high schooler who was battling a severe case of epilepsy. Boarding school didn’t necessarily agree with my lifestyle of choice. I was lost and confused and unsure of who my true friends were. I was constantly told by doctors that if I continued to take more and more pills, the seizures would somehow find a way out of my life. The pills piled up, and the seizures did too. I felt like a zombie who had to fight to keep my eyes open for more than a couple hours at a time. The medicine sucked the life out of me. And the seizures remained. Nobody understood me. Why was this happening to me, and what did it actually feel like? I’m still not sure I can tell you that. But I needed a way to get this growing pile of pain out of me.
I owe a lot to my mom for taking me to the museum that day. I was introduced to a world of people who took an alternative path to express their feelings. Tears are all too common. Even therapists didn’t quite get what I was going through. But a canvas, inviting of color, of abstractions, of tears mixed in to the paint – it was my sounding board. I created abstractions that nobody else might have understood, but that proved a point. I didn’t need to be defined simply as a kid fighting a troubling disease. I was a kid with a whole host of thoughts inside of me that could turn out to be something truly aesthetic. It didn’t need to be understood. It could be seen as something beautiful. Before this outlet, I wasn’t sure if I could be seen like that. Too much time spent on stretchers and hospital beds didn’t allow it.
At some point, I stopped making art. Before then, though, I was rewarded with a prize at my school’s graduation ceremony for my artwork. Something that came into my life without much warning had suddenly turned me into something new, something refreshed. It gave me something to be proud of. It allowed me to stand tall.
In the end, the art didn’t cure my seizures; I did. But it sure as hell helped me get to the point where I was strong enough to overcome something that was taking over my life and quickly making me feel as though I wasn’t going to make it through this battle. Painting gave me the feeling that I could stand up to my fears. Through standing up against what was quickly becoming the authority in my life, I found a way to fight.
Eventually, I fought back against the zombie-inducing medicine. I found something that worked for me. I became my own person again and found comfort in my life and in who I am as a person. Suddenly, as if by the work of a miracle, the seizures started becoming more infrequent. With each minute of my life that I gained back, I gained the strength to feel as though I was able to control my own life. The fight continued. I started to take over this imaginary battlefield. Soon enough, I won. I could hardly believe it. I fought that son of a bitch and was able to say that I came out victorious. The seizures went away. And so, too, did my art.
The great thing is that the art will always be there. It’s hanging in a room that, perhaps understandably, means a lot to me. I get flooded with emotions when I enter that room. It’s a reminder of what was, and what I overcame. It reminds me of a part of my childhood that was, quite frankly, largely taken away from me by demons that I didn’t ask for.
Something in me, though, tells me that we all have demons that we didn’t ask to fight. Mine was a medical condition, but others may have less concrete demons. In fact, though I had a somewhat concrete demon, what was less obvious was that I was trying to be a person who I wasn’t made to be. I was trying to be a person who followed all the rules and took life as it came to me. I was trying to go by the book, knowing that if I did as I was told, I would come out okay in the end. The fact is, that isn’t who I am. I’m a fighter. I’m alternative. I don’t succeed if I follow all the rules. I have my own way of living. I don’t like to imitate my life off of others who follow all the rules, despite the success that they may find. I’ve found my success by emulating the acts of the alternatives.
I owe so much to my mom, to Mondrian, to my art teacher, and hell, even to my case of epilepsy. All of these influences helped me find myself. And I look back today and am happy with where I am. Yes. I am happy and proud. It takes a lot of people a long time to find out how to say that, but I’m here to say that it is possible. I wasn’t sure of that when I was in high school, but it is. It just takes finding your path.
I want to relate this to music for a second. That’s what you’re here for anyway, right? I’ve recently discovered an artist by the name of Birdy. She’s got a voice that is unparalleled by many today. But she’s made a name for herself recently not by creating her own music that shows off her voice. She’s finding her path through echoing the masterpieces of others before her, such as Fleet Foxes, Phoenix and Bon Iver. It’s quite brilliant, really. She’s found her launchpad by paying homage to the greats who so many of us have come to know and love. She’s proven herself by showing that she can create beautiful covers of these already-magnificent songs. Soon it will be Birdy’s time to create her own path. But she’ll likely look back, as I have, to the inspirational artists who helped her find herself. I’ve included some of Birdy’s music at the bottom of this post. I know that I will be closely following her career as an artist, and I hope that you will be, too.
Lastly, I just wanted to mention that I’m not sure I’ve ever told you guys about this part of my past. Perhaps it’s because sometimes I try to forget about it. Or maybe it’s something that I wasn’t ready to share with the whole world. (Okay fine, the whole world might not be reading Sunset in the Rearview. But you guys are the world to me.) Either way, posts like these remind me that I have found a community here whom I trust enough to share my own very personal stories. It’s an alternative way to get over humps and hurdles, but as I said, I thrive on alternative paths.
But I have to thank all of you for being a catalyst for my happiness and success. I will never forget that. And I encourage any and all of you to reach out to me at any time. I heard from a fan recently who told me that he had lost his dad in the past few months. He remembered reading that I had lost my dad, and he reached out to say that the music and stories that I’ve shared helped him a lot. Things like that mean the world to me. I owe a lot to you guys, so please let me know if I can ever do anything for you. We’re in an invisible friendship that I’ll never forget. Don’t you forget that, either.
Startups these days seem to be all the rage. Take a visit out to San Francisco and you probably wont be able to walk a full block without running into a funky new workspace devoted to a startup. New York also has the startup fever, as new businesses are popping up left and right, based on ideas believable and trustworthy enough to earn funding from big whig venture capitalists somewhere in the world. It seems this generation isn’t satisfied with status quo; we like to take it one step further and understand that we are capable of turning our dreams into reality. Sunset in the Rearview is my personal venture that I’ve spent almost three years working on building, but the fact is, Sunset wouldn’t be where it is if it weren’t for the help of certain music startups that have helped fuel the blog’s success. Continue reading for the full list and descriptions of each startup and its pros and cons. Continue reading “5 Startups Changing The Music Industry” »
After my initial article about how Spotify will affect the music industry, I feel it’s time to follow up after giving the Swedish start-up a chance to settle in the United States. There have been articles popping up on the Internet claiming that Spotify isn’t going to be successful in the United States, and that already, Spotify is struggling to convert their services into revenue. Journalists and critics are claiming that American listeners are too accustomed to free music at this point, deeming Spotify and its subscription-based revenue plan a failure from the get-go.
Slooooowwwww doooooowwwwwnnnnn, critics. In my opinion, what people are failing to recognize is that Spotify is still allowing its US users unlimited streaming. That means no cap on how much music you can listen to for free. This is a brilliant approach on their end because it allows U.S. users to experience all that Spotify can be, but at some point they will retract some of the free rights and people will be left itching to pay for service to regain access to what they once had. I’m sure there will be some stingy people unwilling to pay, but frankly, it will be their loss when they get a pop up telling them they’ve reached their maximum streams for the month.
Others are complaining about Spotify’s inability to create any substantial revenue for artists. In response to an angry call-out from a record label who claimed that Spotify wasn’t able to pay the labels and artists, Spotify said the following:
Spotify was launched out of a desire to develop a better, more convenient and legal alternative to music piracy. Spotify now monetises an audience the large majority of whom were downloading illegally (and therefore not making any money for the industry) before Spotify was available.
Spotify is now generating serious revenues for rights holders; since our launch just three years ago, we have paid over $100 million to labels and publishers, who, in turn, pass this on to the artists, composers and authors they represent. Indeed, a top Swedish music executive was recently quoted as saying that Spotify is currently the biggest single revenue source for the music industry in Scandinavia.
Spotify is now also the second single largest source of digital music revenue for labels in Europe (IFPI, Apr 2011). Billboard reported in April that Spotify territories saw an average digital growth rate of 43% last year. By contrast, neighbouring countries (without Spotify) saw only 9.3% digital growth.
$100 million is surely a lot more than artists are seeing when people are illegally downloading their music from sites like Mediafire, Hulkshare, Box.net and the like. People are not buying physical copies anymore (with the exception of vinyl, which may just be a trend.) They’re either illegally downloading, buying digitally, or they’re simply streaming. That leaves artists and labels with the ability to make money via online sales and through live performances and merchandise sales. With online sales in jeopardy due to the high rate of illegal downloads, artists need to give Spotify’s mission to pay per stream a chance. This is a huge opportunity for artists, but they need to be patient. Something tells me that when U.S. users with free accounts are limited to the normal streaming limit that comes with a free account, Spotify will see a significant jump in their revenues and their payout to artists may increase. As their revenues increase, their advertising prices will likely increase, bringing more money and possibilities to both the company and the labels/artists.
Just a few days ago, an artist wrote an article about receiving their Spotify royalties, claiming to be “A-mazed: the rates were between 0.88 and 0.73 cents per play.” They continued, “We’re actually approaching a sustainable per-play rate here: at a median rate of 0.8 cents per play, or so, the sale-to-stream income ratio is around 1:88 – 88 streams of a track from a single user would generate income comparable to a single sale of that track.” At first glance, that may sound like an unreachable goal, but when you stop to think about how many users are on Spotify and the scalability included with sharing playlists among friends, songs can quickly become “hot” streams. Just like that…a song gets high streaming rates, and the artist finds money in their pocket. Just by sitting idly and letting their music do its thing, as it used to go in the record stores.
As I said, the critics need to slow down and give Spotify a chance to breathe and grow on this side of the pond. It’s already changing the way that listeners view music ownership, allowing artists an alternative to the continually dwindling revenue resources, and in my mind, is well on its way to saving the music industry. Just wait.
And to end it with some tunes, here is a song I’m digging today.
I’ve been asked by several people recently to share my thoughts on how Spotify will change the music industry. This right here is straight talk. My opinion on the state of the music industry and what Swedish-based technology platform Spotify will do for you, me, the artists, and the industry as a whole.
When Spotify was brought to the United States on July 14th, people suddenly realized that the times they were a-changin’.
Spotify is a Swedish-based music streaming service that allows users to stream entire songs (compared to the short clip that iTunes allows) from a range of major and independent record labels including Sony, EMI, Warner, and Universal. For free. Yes, you read that correctly. For free, you can listen to entire albums (with just a few advertisements thrown in there to break up your seamless experience). For a small fee, you can have an ad-free experience and have added features that include higher bitrate streams and offline access to music. If you purchase a Premium account, you can access Spotify and all of your playlists on your cell phone.
Spotify’s collection currently holds about 15 million tracks, but that number is said to be growing by around 10,000 tracks per day. And this is legal, because the labels have agreed to give Spotify rights to their artists’ music. Some labels and artists have not agreed to be added to Spotify yet, but something tells me that as soon as they see the number of Spotify users and really let that sink in, they’ll quickly be begging to be added to the database.
So you get free music. That’s cool. But what’s the catch? Where’s the stickiness? Ah, yes. In the playlists. Using Spotify, users can set up playlists that they can then share with other Spotify users. Want to see if your friend Joe has any public playlists? Simple! Connect to your Facebook account and you’ll then have a right rail that shows your Facebook friends who are using Spotify. By clicking on Joe’s name, you can then see his playlists that he’s published. Heck, you can even make a playlist WITH Joe that both of you can edit. And once you’re done, simply drag your playlist link into an email, an instant message, a tweet – whatever you want! People can then click on that link and the playlist will automatically be downloaded into their Spotify.
This all seems too good to be true, right? Well, in part, it is. This whole unlimited access to streaming music for free is going to be, well…limited. In short time, U.S. users will get a more realistic taste of Spotify, as those with free accounts will soon be limited to 20 hours per month of free streaming. Brilliant marketing plan by Spotify, if you ask me. Give users a taste of what they can do (for the most part) with a Premium account, make them think this is the best thing ever, and as soon as they’re about to explode confetti out of their ears from excitement, introduce a cap, or make them pay to avoid the cap.
So how does this affect the music industry? Well, right off the bat it would seem as though the labels have reached their doomsday, no? That’s what I would guess, since people have access to full streams of songs without having to pay a penny. However, Spotify has created a concept that nobody seemed to understand until this point. They are trying to change the focus and success of the music industry from ownership of music to streaming of music. Yes, that’s right. Streaming music will be the revenue driver.
In October 2010, Wired reported that Spotify was making more money for labels in Sweden than any other retailer, on or offline. How? Spotify’s financial set up seems to give a minimum to artists based on stream count, which might actually be more profitable for artists than the current system, since so many people are illegally downloading music off the internet and from torrents. If Spotify is playing fair and actually paying these artists on stream count (there have been complaints that smaller, independent artists haven’t been receiving the same treatment that major labels are), artists will (finally!) once again be paid for having their music heard, which hasn’t seemed to be the case for several years.
That’s a major change. For years, the music industry in the U.S. has depended on people buying albums and going to concerts. In 2010, nearly 80% of the labels’ $2 billion in digital revenue in the U.S. came from sales of records and singles. Translation? Sales on iTunes. Sweden, on the other hand, and where Spotify originated, saw in 2010 that album and track sales only accounted for 20% of the $38 million in digital revenue. Sixty percent of that revenue came from…yep, you guessed it…streaming.
Personally, I haven’t yet fallen totally in love with Spotify. I’m still unversed on how to control my privacy, which is a big barrier between my heart and Spotify. There are some playlists that I just don’t want to share with people. I’m still unsure how to privatize some of my playlists, but I’m sure that is something I’ll figure out pretty quickly. Another barrier: I am an iTunes addict. Yes, I am a slave to Steve Jobs’s money-sucking system. I suppose I’m being an old fart who clings to familiarity, but it’s true – I’m familiar with iTunes and I love it’s layout, it’s look and feel, and its simple user-interface. Seeing something new and different is a bit shocking. But as with most things, I’m sure I’ll suck it up and get used to it and soon be drooling over Spotify, just like everybody else seems to be.
What I have been leaning on Spotify for so far is streaming brand new albums. It’s been great to be able to listen to an album in full before purchasing it. As a music blogger, I’m expected to listen to new albums as they come out. That typically means that (so long as I haven’t been given a free copy by the artist or the label) I have to purchase tons of new albums every Tuesday. Somewhere in there, I think people forgot that I’m young and poor. Everybody except Spotify founder Daniel Ek, who has introduced the concept of paying $9.99 a month for unlimited access to streaming just about anything I want. That right there, Mr. Ek, is brilliant. You keep doing your thing, and I’m sure, in due time, I’ll be ooh-ing and ahh-ing and wanting to kiss your feet just as much as everybody else in the world seems to be right now.
As I think about music that I like and what I find to be “sustainable” music, I find big differences between the two categories. Music I like can include hip hop, indie, folk, most prominently, but certainly other genres as well. Music that I find sustainable, though, seems to leave out a big chunk of hip hop music today. Some days I listen to hip hop music and wonder – ‘hmm…have all of the topics to speak on been written about already? Are people out of ideas?’ But after thinking about it for the past few weeks, I’ve come to the conclusion that that’s not what it is. That’s not the root of the problem.
The problem is that the barrier into the rap game has disappeared. Today, it seems anybody can be a rapper. It’s as though society is saying, ‘If you took a poetry class when you were younger, try your hand at rap!’ And the problem is, music blogs are allowing this culture. What some people call “Frat Rap,” others call “Music Blog Rap.” I try to shy away from posting a lot of this music because, to me, it isn’t good music. It’s not sustainable. What I mean by that is that though the music can often times have good production or a fun beat, if you take a second to listen to the lyrics, there’s nothing there. Is it anything more than rhymes? Is it conceptual? Is there a meaning to the song? Or is it just rhyming for rhyming’s sake?
Too many times, in the music I’m being sent, it’s just rhyming for rhyming’s sake. It’s so and so saying “I’m the shit. I’m so dope. I’m taking over the world.” and making it rhyme at the end of each line. A problem I have with this is that these people are simply talking about themselves in an arrogant fashion for 16 bars three times in a song. Sure, that might be the “cool” thing to do, but it’s not sustainable. Ask yourself, the next time you fall in love with a song like that, if you’ll still be listening to it in a couple years. If you will be, then yeah, it’s sustainable for you. If not, it’s going to fade away. It will disappear. Probably, with the way we live our lives today, the song will be forgotten in about a month. It’ll get a few plays in your iTunes, maybe mostly on Friday and Saturday nights, and then will get lost in your music library.
So what does that mean? Have I lost all faith in hip hop music? That could seem to be the case, but it’s not. The reason I opened this post with the Kid Cudi mention is because Kid Cudi is a very relevant comparison to bring up. Why is Kid Cudi so popular? He talks about himself in most of his songs, which is what I’m accusing these other, unsustainable, untalented rappers of doing, right? Here’s the difference:
Kid Cudi talks about himself in the most honest of ways.
Cudder shares his life stories. He admits to defeat, whereas the rappers I’m criticizing (often times “frat rappers”) tend to send out the message that they’re immune to defeat. That they are, essentially, invincible. The honesty that Kid Cudi lets out for his fans is something that a lot of us can not only relate to, but we cling to. We get excited when he shares his personal stories, because it makes us feel okay, and perhaps it empowers us. Here’s a guy who’s world famous for being a rapper, and he’s saying that he’s lonely? So that must mean it’s okay to be lonely. It’s okay to feel like a failure sometimes. It’s okay to have issues inside your head. It’s okay to be vulnerable. It’s okay to feel like you’re living on the dark side of the moon. Or in a cocoon. He speaks to so many people and it feels so real. I’m not getting that feeling from the majority of the other artists who are crossing my radar these days. Not even in the slightest.
So I guess your conclusion at this point could be, ‘okay…she likes Kid Cudi. She made that clear years ago.’ But it’s not just Kid Cudi. There are other artists out there who are reminding me why I love hip hop so much. But unfortunately, there are more artists coming my way who are reminding me why I can hate hip hop so much at times. I wish there was some way I could put my hand out and tell people NOT to try rapping if they don’t have something real to say. Mixtapes aren’t supposed to be just a clump of music that you stick together and give away for free. Albums aren’t either. They’re supposed to have a theme – a message – that ties all the songs together. If you don’t have a story to tell or a story to write about, don’t write at all. If you aren’t able to come up with something conceptual, or something honest, maybe your ability as a lyricist isn’t quite there. Being a rapper isn’t just about rhyming. It’s about being a writer.
So here it is. The straight talk bottom line. I’m sick of people making themselves out to be heroes when they’re not. I’m so ready for “artists” to stop pretending they’re taking over the world. I’m desperate for more music where artists are honest with their fans. I’m itching for music that means something. I’m begging for sustainable hip hop. I’m hoping for the emergence of more Kid Cudis – artists who allow fans to find faith in music.
Check the video of Kid Cudi pouring his heart out to his fans. In the toughest of times, he’s thanking his fans for getting him through it all.
Music blogs are everywhere these days, huh? When I started this blog back in 2008, I thought I was doing something groundbreaking. I would tell people I was a blogger, but not just any blogger…I was only here to talk about…music. ‘Nobody’s doing that, man! This will be awesome!’ Little did I know, there were already hundreds, if not thousands, of music blogs out there. These days, the number of music blogs on this thing called the interwebs is growing at the speed of sound. Before we get too out of hand, let’s slow down and take a look at what’s out there. And while we’re at it, let’s compare it to something we all know and love: music. I’m going to talk about a few music blogs, Sunset in the Rearview included, and pick out who they’re like in the music industry. If you don’t agree with things, leave comments and say why! Add other blogs and say who they’re like! Let’s get a conversation going!
Yesterday, Kid Cudi released a new song called “Perfect is the Word.” Being an obsessed fan, I thought I would let out my thoughts on the new sound. This post is inspired by a post that Cudi put up on his personal blog:
I love the mixed reviews on the new jam, when they aint talkin about you then its a problem ha Im pleased with this new project and no negative write up or comment will make me feel any different. Not everyone will like what you do, known fact. All that matters is I LIKE what I DO, i have fun doing it and I got enough riders and believers that love me and support my artistic vision and thats more than I couldve ever asked for. If you dont like the new direction, cool. It cost you nothing, pay me no mind! Ima proceed as scheduled, cause I can.
Personally, I didn’t like the song at all. I thought it was harsh on the ears, not fun to listen to, and not enjoyable at all. When Cudi said that he would be taking a turn toward rock rather than hip hop and working solely with producer Dot Da Genius, I expected to hear more music like his Bob Dylan remix, “Highs N Lows,” which is enjoyable, harmonic, and inspires me to sing along. This song is lacking any sort of harmony at all, which is a crucial part of rock music.
After reading Cudi’s quote, I’m lead to believe that this type of song is going to be central to Cudi’s new direction. I’m desperately hoping this isn’t the case, because if so, I may soon find myself no longer a fan of his music. The reason I love Cudi so much in the first place is not only because his music is honest and real, it’s also because it’s enjoyable, it’s harmonic, he is a good singer (personally I think he’s better at singing than he is at rapping), and he’s fun. His A Kid Named Cudi mixtape was his best release, in my opinion, because it had a lot of qualities that didn’t stick to hip hop. He sang a lot on that tape; when I heard that he would be going more toward singing and rock, I was hoping we’d see the return of the old Cudder. The Cudder we heard on A Kid Named Cudi. Unfortunately, it seems, based on “Perfect is the Word,” that I was wrong. I’m holding out hope one more time for a change of direction, but, sad as it is, it seems my hopes might be a bit too high.