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Kid Cudi “Man on the Moon: End of Day” Review

Kid Cudi Man on the Moon End of DayIndie-rap phenom—out of nowhere (Cleveland)—Kid Cudi hit the blogs and indie radar what seems like a few summers ago with the party crasher, “Day ‘n’ Nite,” which with all its various remixes, took on a life of its own. With a single track he made his mark; Kanye West noticed and: boom. Kid Cudi clearly has his own sound, one based on minimal, electronica-inspired drum programming, and right away he wants us to know that he’s different; and he is. Musically, his sensibilities to lo-fi, experimental production over glossy beats confirm as much. Lyrically he wears his heart on his sleeve, he’s crying, loves mushrooms, his dad died, his mom still came through every Christmas, he has a general sense of vulnerability, and he’s paranoid.

I doubt many remember A.R. Kane, who were partly responsible for “Pump Up the Volume” before making their early shoegaze classics (1988′s sixty-nine and 1989′s brilliant but little heard i: a futuristic collage of beats and electronics with fuzzed out guitars). Musically, I see this same dexterity in Kid Cudi; he seems to be hip-hop’s answer to the confessionals of emo and the shimmering of shoegazers. Through that cloud of haze is the life of a young adventurous stoner: Kid Cudi.

The record opens with “In My Dreams (Cudder Anthem)” where he sings of his “night terrors” over a atmospheric Björk-like track. Things pick up on the confessional “Soundtrack 2 My Life” where everyday drama is so stressful that Cudi claims to “Split an eighth of shrooms just so I could see the universe.” He then fuels his demons “Now I’m in the cut, alcohol in the wound/My heart’s an open sore that I hope heals soon/I live in a cocoon opposite of Cancun where it is never sunny, the dark side of the moon.” The dark “Solo Dolo (Nightmare),” with its plucking violin and strings, carries this “me against world” ode. Nice drum programming and piano chords make “Heart Of A Lion (Kid Cudi Theme Music)” work, and again it hits with more on his emotional struggles and lessons from his mom. “My World” is a childhood tale of loneliness, low self esteem, being too artsy, bad jobs and a mysterious male chorus is kicked in by Billy Cravens. Then there’s the frenetic disco ditty “Enter Galactic” that sounds disjointed like a bad Basement Jaxx song with silly lyrics (“you and me”).

Among the album’s highlights are two tracks that drop with an assist from his hipster pals. The electronic duo Ratatat whose laptop beats anchor “Alive” with flourishes of scattering break beats, while on the inspirational “Pursuit of Happiness (Nightmare)” he collaborates with both MGMT & Ratatat. These are easily two of the more interesting tracks, especially “Pursuit of Happiness” with the glowing harmonies in the chorus by MGMT, and winding chords, bleeps as he declares “I’ll be fine when I get it, l’ll be good.” On the very synth-heavy “Cudi Zone” he has a nice flow and is “feeling alright.” Older tracks like the conventional “Sky Might Fall” and “Make Her Say” (which samples Lagy Gaga’s “Pokerface” and features Kanye West & Common) still sound fresh; as does the breakout hit “Day ‘n’ Nite.” Common’s narration throughout, however, is irritating. “Hyyerr,” featuring Chip Tha Ripper, is a triple rhyme slow jam dedicated to the joys of weed. Man On the Moon closes with the uptempo pop of “Up Up & Away” that sounds like a Black Eyed Peas demo as Kid Cudi appears to be consumed by expectations “They gone judge me anyway, so whatever!”

Man On The Moon is a very welcome shot-in-the arm album that dispels the notion that hip-hop records aren’t as experimental and daring as past landmarks. While there aren’t many new 3 Feet High and Risings and It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Backs being made, it’s cool that a kid like Cudi can even get a record like this made. There are a few tracks are drowsy and feel like West’s 808s & Heartbreak on NyQuil. When West stays out of way and lets him do him Kid Cudi wins; he gets to stay experimental and deliver hit songs. It proves that you can still break a new artist (given that they have at least one true hit like “Day ‘n’ Nite,” and a few high profile guest appearances such as that on Jay-Z’s The Blueprint 3), yet it’s still Cudi’s desire to create his own lane that many kids will surely follow. Divine Styler is somewhere smiling at Kid Cudi and his tight pants.

[This article was written by guest contributor Jon Jon Scott.]


27 Comments

    It is great to have someone out there thinking outside the box, breaking the ‘rules,’ I’m sick of all the cookie cutter shit. Props to Kudi for testing the waters like more artists should be doing.

  • this album is possibly one of the greatest hip-hop albums to come out in years…its innovative, creative & unlike most of the other garbage coming out these days. Jay-Z wanted a new sound on the bp3…this is what he shoulda gone for. kid Cudi is a genius!

  • nice twist on that aspect of what he does, and how it relates to music today and at the same time the reference to AR KANE and DIVINE STYLER good to know groups like them arent forgotten 1x

  • I wouldn’t quite call Cleveland nowhere. We’re still a major city and pretty hardcore at that.

  • Nah Cleveland’s not nowhere, but its about as major of a city for Hip Hop as Minneapolis, which isn’t the usual launching ground for MCs. Jon Jon does a great job analyzing this album.

  • yooooooo, sorry Cleveland no shots,it’s the ruggish,thuggish bone…’
    I know ya know ya “Go Hard”.

  • yo!!! i have to admit wasn’t really feelin this whole emo hip hop thing but after reading this review gave it a next listen !!! still dont like it but the pursuit of happiness song is gauranteed change in his pocket$$$$$!!!!! whatup MALIK WORTHY !!!!! Always worthy of a hail up !!!! peace to JON JON for the dope review!!!

  • Isn’t Bone Thugs from Cleveland? Just throwing it out there…

  • good review. im stoked on this album. cudi has a cool style, and cool because it is unique and it is genuine. i love to see people making unique and genuine music in my time. there were only probably two tracks that missed for me. i hope this blows up; and when it does i hope cudi can stay genuine.

  • I’ll agree it’s a pretty innovative album in terms of beats and sound (especially with MGMT and Ratatat) but in terms of rhymes I have heard this lyrical style in other places. I’m still trying to pin down where but I will soon. You pull the lyrics out and they are good, it’s simply innovative due to the experimentation with the beats.

    Although one could say that isn’t even terribly innovative. Electronic artists have been mixing hip-hop and electro music for quite some time. Just go on the hype machine. And to get technical that sound has been coming out of Chicago and Baltimore for a while now. Most of their electronic tracks have some sort of hip-hop feel (“Percolator” by Camjere, “Shake and Pop” – Green Velvet, most stuff produced by Blaqstarr) and hip-hop coming out of these places have the high BPM of electronic tracks with their hip-hop beats (most songs by Hollywood Holt, Rye Rye, some of the Cool Kids stuff). Cudi was just the first artist to do both on his own.

    It’s tough when you see his live show. He tries to make it a real hip-hop show when the music is just too different from that. It’s just not really a hip-hop show. There isn’t really a track on the album that makes me want to “get my hands up”. Dance maybe, but I’m not going to rock out to a Crookers remix the same way I would to most other hip-hop shows I go to.

    Yes it’s somewhat innovative. And yes that is how most of the new hipster-hop kids are going to view it. Something different from the hip-hop they may have grown up on. Is it more groundbreaking than artists who can blend lyrical talent and innovative production – no. The full effect of this style is yet to be seen, but its taking off fast and has yet to fall off.

  • im listening right now and i cant really get into it like his mixtape “a kid named cudi” he sounds different in this cd but he killed the mixtape. man i wish the cd was similar to what he did in a kid named cudi. did he just pull a Lloyd Banks

  • i take back what i said i listened hard to the album and it goes hard, and tells a pretty good story, some of the beats are crazy. i can see it being on top this year, but i dont see everyone feeling this cd.

  • Yeah great album – i reviewed it as well (link in sig). I can see some traditional hip hop purists being put off it at first – but I love it.

    It is SIGNIFICANTLY better than Kanye’s 808′s – which it kind of reminds me of. Cudi has better production and is much more honest and genuine.

  • This album was one of the best that came out this year! creative, thinking outside the box,new soundish, breaking the rules.. Genius!

    I love it, really love it!

    I’m so tired of every other kind of hiphop right now, everything sounds the same! No one is brave enough to try new things.. like dirty south?!.. They just make that because they know that they will have a audience to rely 2, but Kid Cudi did something new without being sure that someone would like it.. and he did the right thing!

    So this was something I was waiting for!!

    the only downside is that alot of the tracks sounds to alike, you can’t really tell if the song has changed…

    Thank you Kid Cudi!

  • its not often that you get an album where every song is good in its own right. i have this album on repeat since it came out. MAN ON THE MOON! 5/5

  • Best album in years, not just in hip-hop, but any genre. it fuses clever, thought provoking rap with techno bleeps, slick beats and other worldly sounds. how some crytics have slated this is astonishing. just because hes not grabbing on his balls and yelling about pussy and dollars, that doesnt make him a shit rapper. this should win every grammy possible, but unfortunatley some dicks fail to see past the hip-hop stereotype. this however is a great review.

  • Funny to see a bunch of kids just now jumping on the Cudi bandwagon…It seems hip-hop audiences have finally softened up a bit and figured out that there is a whole world experimental electronica out there that they have no f$ckin clue existed until Cudi came to bridge the gap. Maybe this is a precursor to a little more notariety of proper underground techno and house scenes……..oh wait this is Merica’ :0/

  • This album is awful. Say what you will about the production value or the (seemingly) experimental electronica beats, but forgive me for realizing that layered above these “sonic textures” lies the sleepily drawled, snoringly banal poetry of a pre-teen cutter whose emotional state is so helplessly contrived it becomes a caricature of itself before it displays any real human complexity. It’s not refreshing. It’s barely entertainment.

  • Some of the electronic fans are more dorkier than I thought. Kid Cudi using “soft electronics” is simply his preference, he’s not discovering electronica for the hip-hop masses. Electronic fans seemed irritated, how dare this skinny jean rap dude “borrow” from us like electronica has “borrowed” from hip-hop, get over your selves. Your inner-dork is showing.

  • Good stuff, can’t deny this is the type of stuff I have wanted to hear for a long time. Even if the sound is somewhat familiar Kid Cudi has made it his own, though the lyrics are very simple at times. Being honest and straight forward is great though. I assume this is just the beginning for Cudi.

  • This is one of the greatest albums to come out in a reallllll long time. Cudi fails at following the route most modern rappers take which makes him a sick artist. Shits hella cool. I download mad music but this is def one of those few albums ill have to go buy. KEEP KILLIN EM CUDI

  • all i have to say is thank you KID CUDI!

  • dam this naga is raw business…soundtrack 2 my lyfe is raw as hel, and sky might fall? hella spiritual if u think about it. ..he did it big..memorable Cd

  • kid cudi …what can I say about a soul whos life was forever changed after his father died.

    Is the album ground breaking…to a certain extent, it opens up a whole new sector and audience in hip hop…..and not only in hip hop but in music industry in itself….regardless of what plp might think Kid Cudi stepped outside the box and thought about…and having Kanye as a friend dosn’t hurt.

  • this is the best album i heard in a while its different and i like it

    top fav songs
    1. sound track to my life
    2. heart of a lion
    3. up up and away

    just listen to the album its really good

  • I’ve been playing tracks from this album on my iphone since the album dropped, its addictive stuff.

    My fave tracks:-
    1. Pursuit of Happiness
    2. Day n Nite
    3. Make Her Say (even though Common steals the show on this track)
    4. Up Up and Away
    5. Sky Might Fall

  • First off, to Bushwik. I had been following the underground techno and house wayyy before i even liked hip hop.
    Second. This album is amazing. I listened to the entire thing all the way through and every song is incredible. Its the best album in the world to listen to when you have done a little smoking haha ;D

    Top 5
    1. Solo Dolo
    2. In My Dreams
    3. Up Up & Away
    4. Pursuit of Happiness
    5. Alive

    totally just realized how old this post is. but idc haha.

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