I've had an itch to write a new album review since I started this blog. I've recently listened to numerous new albums but unfortunately, the last 'worthy of a review' new album I have listened to was Blue Sky Noise, Circa Survive's fourth album, released in April. I feel that I would be slightly biased on that review since they're my favorite band and they could probably put out something less than stellar and I would still love it (you catch my drift). So, rather than being negative about an artist's work, I want to review an album that I feel is worthy of listening to.
There are a few new albums slated to release in October and November that I am highly anticipating. One of them is Man on the Moon II: The Legend of Mr. Rager, Kid CuDi's second album and follow-up to Man on the Moon: The End of Day. Since I still listen to songs from that album on a daily basis, this release cannot come soon enough. According to Kid CuDi, "Man On The Moon II is dark by nature and instead of bringing you into my dreams like my first album, I'm bringing you into my reality, good and bad. It will explain more of who I am as well as pushing the envelope musically." He, or rather YouTube, has released a few songs thus far to get fans excited and create some buzz about the new release. I have listened to "Mr. Rager", "REVOFEV", "Erase Me" featuring Kanye West (this song makes me semi-respect Kanye again after his douchey reign), "I Do My Thing" featuring Snoop Dogg, and "Mojo So Dope." Thankfully, his "alternative hip-hop" style and flow have emerged but remains as fresh and psychedelic as his first release.
I want to take you back to Kid CuDi's roots. Back to before he was truly Kid CuDi and more Scott Mescudi, a kid from Shaker Heights, a suburb of Cleveland. He moved to Brooklyn to pursue a career in music and before the Man on the Moon era, there was one mixtape, A Kid Named Cudi, that started it all for the young rapper. Little did he know, this mixtape would be discovered by Kanye West, who instantly signed Mescudi to GOOD Music in 2008.
When I think of a mixtape, what immediately comes to mind is an annoying DJ talking for the first thirty seconds of each track and shouting out random labels and groups that no one really understands (yeah, I mean you DJ Khaled!). But, A Kid Named Cudi broke the mold of mediocre mixtapes and gave us a new sound. It signified that Kid CuDi was ready to go mainstream from the start of his career.
The difference between Kid CuDi's music and other alternative-style rappers is that his albums tell a story. From the intro to the last song, each song is step along his journey and the music takes us along with him. The mixtape starts with an intro, much like Man on the Moon I, that begins his story. The intro is noise in a movie theater, with the movie starting at the end of the intro, to signify the start of the "show". From the very first song, "Down and Out", Cudi spits "hot fiya", in the words of Dylan from MTV's "The Band" (had to throw that in there). There is not a single song on the CD that I don't enjoy. Some of my favorites include: "Embrace the Martian", a song about him feeling like an outsider, the ever-so self explanatory, "Maui Wowie", "T.G.I.F." (Thank God I'm Fresh), not to be confused with everyone's favorite Friday statement, "Cudi Spazzin'", which houses one of my favorite lyrics, "Fall into the music and let yourself go", "The Prayer", which samples one of my favorite songs, "The Funeral", by Band of Horses, and "Cleveland is the Reason", a tribute to his hometown. This mixtape also includes "Day 'n' Nite", the song that put CuDi on the map and led him to instant fame. On this mixtape, he digs deep into his soul when writing, exposing himself in every lyric.
Up until a few years ago, I used to listed to hip-hop on a daily basis. I think back to the days of 'Lil Wayne in his prime after releasing The Carter II, and it takes me back to a time where I thoroughly enjoyed that type of music. Now, I think of it as almost a dead genre. Every time I turn on the local hip-hop station or hear of a new popular song, I think it is another song I've heard before because everything blends together and sounds the same. Originality is dead in hip-hop. There will never be another Tupac, Notorious B.I.G., Mobb Deep, or even Nas in his prime, but Kid CuDi is the closest artist I've listened to that brings me back to those same feelings I got when I first heard these legendary hip-hop artists blare through my stereo for the first time. I can only hope that his flow remains as fresh as his slim-cut skinny jeans and black rimmed glasses and his "alternative hip-hop" style never remains anything but that.