My friend D-Mac and I had both recently seen Kid Cudi in concert, but while he thought it was...
DJBooth Album Review
“Don’t get me wrong, it was a dope show. But the lights, the videos, I thought it was more style than substance,” I said.
“I don’t know, I thought Cudi was pretty amazing,” said D-Mac.
“Let me ask you this then,” I said, “exactly what made Cudi’s show so unbelievable?”
D-Mac paused, thought for a moment, and said, “Well, I was pretty high.”
D-Mac’s experience is further proof of the Classic When High Corollary. The Classic When High Corollary states that any art created while the artist is high will be significantly more enjoyable if the consumer is similarly impaired. There’s no shortage of movie examples (How High, Harold and Kumar), but hip-hop has its own tradition of chronically oriented artists. Everyone at a Cypress Hill show has a good time, but everyone who smokes out at a Cypress Hill concert has a great time.
Classic When High Corollary, I’d like to introduce you to Kid Cudi’s debut album, Man on the Moon: The End of the Day. Previously relegated to the underground because of his spacey, introspective style, Cudi caught his big break when the futuristicly minded Kanye West signed him after hearing his A Kid Called Cudi mixtape. After building up his songwriting skills on 808s and Heartbreak, Cudi’s finally hit the solo spotlight with Man on the Moon, a deeply conceptual work that will be considered an instant classic by Cudi’s loyally blazed supporters, and just pretty damn good by everyone else. Before the DEA knocks down my door, let me make this clear: I’m not saying you should listen to Man on the Moon high. I’m just saying, it wouldn’t hurt.
Day N Nite was my introduction to Kid Cudi and I was fascinated from the first listen, then pleasantly surprised when it found huge radio play. The track is a darkly pounding, minimally produced and lyrically somber tale of a man who can’t seem to win, in other words, the exact opposite of everything else on the radio. Day N Nite’s success is proof that the people are desperate for an alternative to the monotonous money hungry drone of hip-hop’s mainstream, and Kid Cudi is giving the people what they want. Despite Day N Nite’s obvious stoner implications, the bulk of Man on the Moon isn’t about weed, exactly. If anything the album’s overwhelming theme is loneliness. The haunting Solo Dolo is a reflection on regret beautifully produced by Emile, and the densely orchestrated Sky Might Fall is more nihilistic than uplifting. Cudi delivers his dreamscape lyrics on Sky Might Fall with the optimism of a prisoner recently escaped from prison, happy to be free but scared of being captured again. The man on the moon is surrounded by only empty space.
Like his mentor Kanye, Cudi has a habit of over-indulging in his own ideas. While the meaning of the album’s five acts may make for good stoned conversation, the vast majority of listeners won’t notice the album’s divisions, nor do they particularly need to. Similarly, Man on the Moon contains more than a couple tracks that would have been better if they stayed in Mr. Cudi’s considerably creative cranium. Cudi’s syrup slow delivery on My World only serves to draw attention to the track’s painfully simple outsider lyrics, like reading a teenagers diary, and the album’s opening track In My Dreams doesn’t do much besides prove the man can’t sing. To balance out all this slow moving philosophizing Man on the Moon does contain a couple up-tempo tracks, most notably the hilariously sexual Make Her Say (a.k.a. I Poke Her Face), a much needed comedic break that finds Cudi seriously (and unsurprisingly) overmatched on the mic by Kanye and Common, and the celebratory Hyyer, easily the album’s most purely enjoyable track (even if you’re not hyyer).
Ultimately, Man on the Moon’s faults are a good thing; they mean that Cudi is willing to experiment. Like all experiments some of them are bound to fail, but Cudi is currently one of hip-hop’s most promising and innovative voices, and to dissuade him from experimentation would be a crime. If he can continue to refine his music, particularly lyrically, chances are good that we’ll be listening to a classic Kid Cudi album sometime in the future – even if you're not high.
DJBooth Rating - 3.5 Spins
Written by Nathan S. on Sep 14, 2009
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