Kid Cudi Lands on the ‘Moon’

Photo Courtesy of Universal Motown

Kid Cudi returns in his sophomore album, “Man on the Moon II: The Legend of Mr. Rager.” Fans of Cudi’s first album will be in for a treat with this release, as Cudi has only improved in carving out his own niche in the hip-hop scene. What the listener gets in “The Legend of Mr. Rager”  is truly unlike anything else on the market right now — Cudi knows his strong points, and never deviates from them.

The first thing that you notice about the album is its length — weighing in at a hefty 17 tracks, this isn’t just an album — it is a listening experience. This is an album that is hard to pick apart piece by piece — each song fits together like pieces of a puzzle, and if you remove one piece you lose the complete picture of the work. It is very rare in rap that such a well-rounded and well-developed album comes around, and Kid Cudi’s intellect really shines through in each track.

Whether positive or negative, this entire album has a very somber feel to it. Don’t look to this album for cheery pop tunes that you can easily hum along to — that isn’t Kid Cudi’s style. He is a lonely man in a spaced-out world, and while the feeling you get from the album can’t exactly be described as sadness, it is most definitely not uplifting. This is music that you mellow out and relax to, not music to dance and sing along to.

The album is structured into a five-act “story” arc, a very ambitious undertaking from a very ambitious artist. Continuing the storyline of his first release, “The Legend of Mr. Rager” details the inner struggle between Kid Cudi and his more impulsive alter ego, “Mr. Rager.” The turmoil provides for a very interesting backdrop to the album, and it is nice to see that Cudi is continuing to run with this concept.

The absolute highlight of the album is “Ashin’ Kusher,” the album’s most unique track. The beat is melodic and entrancing, drawing you in with each second. Coupled with Cudi’s sharp vocals, this track becomes addictive; one of those songs you could listen to all day and just not get tired of.

One of the most amazing things about “Man on the Moon II: The Legend of Mr. Rager” is the sheer diversity of the album — every single track has an entirely different feel to it, but no song ever feels truly out of place.

Kid Cudi really spreads his wings on this album, showing the full extent of his rapping talent. Each beat is varied and unique, keeping you guessing (in the best possible way) from track to track.

The “low point” of the album comes ironically in one of the album’s more popular songs, “Erase Me,” a collaboration with Kanye West. While the song itself is good, when put into the context of the album it stands out like a sore thumb. The heavy guitar riffs and upbeat tone of the song clash with the laidback, stoner vibe of the rest of the work, bringing you out of the experience. The song just screams “made for radio,” and while it is fun to listen to, it just doesn’t fit in.

Cudi doesn’t deviate from the style of his first album, which is not a complaint at all. While some may complain that he lacks innovation, I believe that is actually his strong point. He has nailed his niche, he has found what he is good at. He doesn’t feel like he has to imitate the braggadocio and self-inflation that permeates the rap industry today — he has his own vibe, his own brand of melodic rhyming that is on the cutting edge of rap.

For any fan of Kid Cudi, this album is an absolute must-have, as he has only improved since his first offering. As for anyone who hasn’t really listened to any of Kid Cudi’s material before, I’d suggest sampling one or two of the tracks off of the album and see if you like them. Chances are, if you like one of his songs you will like them all.

Kid Cudi is truly a rapper on the rise, and this release proves it. You don’t see artists like Cudi very often — he has one style he excels at, and he is consistently good at executing that style. He doesn’t need to diversify — he excels at his stoner vibe. “Mr. Rager” has made his own world — a world for the one and only, Kid Cudi.

Rating: 4 out of 5