by Andy Paschen
Ladies and gentlemen, man has finally landed on the moon. Or something.
One of the more anticipated albums of the fall, Kid Cudi’s Man on the Moon: The End of Day, happened to find its way onto my computer before the Sept. 15 release date. Many moons ago, I used to be a music critic for a little city magazine known at Vox. I miss that job. So in the Vox spirit, I’m going to review the album just for you.
First, let me say that Man on the Moon is the exact title for this album … It’s spacey. When people say that someone has their head in the clouds, well, Kid Cudi has his head thousands of miles about the clouds and straight up on the goddamn moon. This album proves it.
The sound is hard to pin-down in terms of an analogy. Obviously, the electronic-themed, ambient noise production is out in full for most of the album, but it doesn’t sound like other electronic-driven albums I’ve heard. The two songs with Ratatat definitely have a Ratatat feel to them, it almost sounds like they recycled old beats and laid them down in a different manner, but that’s what makes the rest of the album hard to qualify. It doesn’t sound like Ratatat electro, or MGMT electro, or Kanye electro (except for “Sky Might Fall”, but Kanye produced that song). It’s something else entirely.
Some of the production sounds like the music you would hear in a BBC documentary about space, or maybe the deep sea — but the lyrics are just as out there as well.
I imagine when Kid Cudi made this album, he was convinced he was only going to make it one way. Sink or swim, platinum or aluminum, he was going to make the album only one way — his way. The lyrics are super-personal to the point of esoteric, where you often find yourself agreeing with one line only to have the next line completely fly over your head.
Plus, you’ve got Common in a few tracks, serving as some sort of narrator, who only put you further on that edge of, “Am I really getting what’s going on with this album?”
Let’s get a few things straight, too. Kid Cudi isn’t a great rapper. And I think he knows that, because he really doesn’t rap all that much on the whole album. He didn’t nearly totally abandon rap like Kanye did on 808s & Hearbreak, but he certainly took plenty of time to stretch the ol’ wind pipes. And that’s a good thing. If he tried to force feed me 15 rap tracks I would have turned it off by track eight.
I know what you’re thinking, “Shut up Andy and tell me if you like the album or not.” Well, I do. And I don’t. It’s a mixed bag. I think at times some of the production was weak, and his concepts weren’t fully fleshed out and things sounded a little off. But when he is on, he’s right on and I dig it immensely.”Up Up and Away”, “Simple As” and “Soundtrack 2 My Life” are great examples of what Kid Cudi is capable of on the daily. However, if those types of tracks are still the highlights instead of the standard for his next album, then Kid Cudi will be just another average hip-hop artist.
This album isn’t going to be for everyone — if you like thug music then you’ll have to wait for Clipse’s Til the Casket Drops to get your fix. But if you’re a hip-hop consumer, it’s definitely worth listening to so you can make up your own mind.
4- and 5-star tracks: “Day N Night”, “Simple As”, “Make Her Say” (feat. Kanye West and Common)
Best of the Rest: “Up Up and Away”, “Soundtrack 2 My Life”, “Sky Might Fall”, “Cudi Zone”, “Pursuit of Happiness” (feat. MGMT and Ratatat)
Middling: “In My Dreams (Cudder Anthem)”, “Alive (Nightmare)” (feat. Ratatat), “Solo Dolo (Nightmare)”
Skipsies: “Enter Galactic (Love Connection Part 1)”, “Heart of a Lion (Kid Cudi Theme Music)”, “My World” (feat. Billy Cravens), “Hyyerr” (feat. Chip the Rapper)
[Update: It is 100% the type of album that gets better after every listen. Trust me on that one.]