On the cellophane wrapping that encases Kid Cudi’s new album Man on the Moon II: The Legend of Mr. Rager there is a sticker dubbing it “The Much Anticipated Follow-Up To Kid Cudi’s Debut Album Man On The Moon: The End Of The Day.” Well, Kid Cudi got one thing right on this album, that it was highly anticipated.
Even as someone who is a huge fan of promoting local music, including after they have made the jump to national fame, it is extremely hard to get behind this album. In his debut album Cudi demanded the attention of his audience by collaborating with great musicians such as MGMT and Ratatat. The backing beats to Man On The Man: The End Of The Day were absolutely phenomenal and Man On The Moon II is very underproduced. Cudi’s writing from his debut was also a big reason for his success because it was fun to think about what life would be like to get drunk and be stoned day in and day out. This is the lifestyle that the public envisions rock star’s living; Cudi was just more creative in making music reflecting it. In doing so, he showed his true potential and ultimately set himself up for failure on his sophomore album.
On The Legend Of Mr. Rager Cudi shows his unfortunate true colors. The lifestyle that he wrote about on his debut album, the same one that many people embraced as a fantasy world for this kid from the Shaker Heights, OH, is all too real. In the song “Marijuana” he talks about needing the drug, thus changing some of feelings some might feel about the song “Soundtrack 2 My Life” off of his first album. He talks in others about how depressed he truly is, yet he tries so hard to prop himself up to disguise this. Cudi is much more confused about his place in life on this album, and may have rushed its release. Instead of capitalizing on his break out debut album and following it up with more talented musicians he decided to water it down with featured artists such as Cee-Lo Green, Mary J. Blige, Cage, and Kanye West. Truthfully, this album should be compared to Kanye’s 808s And Heartbreak, which got terrible reviews and had many of the same producers.
By forgoing the use of great backing beats, the album has a very dreary and dull sound to it. This lack of energy also brings Cudi’s vocals to the forefront, which is not something that has really been experienced yet. On his debut album we heard his voice in the background behind some great beats, this album has an awkward feel to it as Cudi seems almost uncomfortable rapping, but not totally comfortable signing either. This creates a lopsided song in almost all cases, be it Kid Cudi or anyone else. Don’t believe me? Watch the video below.
With all of that being said, the honesty found in the writing is somewhat comforting. Criticizing the lack of imagination in the music is one thing that Cudi will be analyzed on from here on out. His imagination in writing a good album will never be questioned. He says, “I live through words not metaphors,” in the song “Mojo So Dope.” Interestingly the album titles are metaphors for this critic. The phrase “man on the moon” has always been a way of calling someone either crazy or a loner, both of which Cudi considers himself. Not only his imagination impeccable, but expressing emotion is another one of Kid Cudi’s strong suits. Through the entire album, he does everything he can to cry out either for help or to let everyone know that even someone of his status is really struggling emotionally. Eminem did a similar thing recently with his newest album. This type of emotional music should be placed in high regard in the rap community due to the fact that the genre of music grew up in the poverty-stricken ghettos of American cities and not in the suburbs where it is being consumed nowadays.
Though Man On The Moon II may not be up to snuff with his debut album, it is not time to lose faith in Kid Cudi. Following the release of his first album, Cudi was featured on an all Cleveland mixtape titled Best Of Tha Land 2009 and showcased his true rapping skills and stayed away from the singing which became so dominant on his latest release, and there was only 10 months separating the two. Cudi’s skills will recover, and hopefully his psyche will too. Expect Man On The Moon II to get panned by the media, and Cudi to take it personally. If he gets back to his true talent of collaborating and making great beats and finds confidence in his voice, he will have no trouble bouncing back from this album. All in all, take this album as a learning experience and see the value in the lyrics that are crying out for direction, because let’s be serious not many artists have been able to follow up a debut album of the caliber as Cudi’s….just ask Puff Daddy and Nas.