Kid Cudi - The Man on the Moon II: The Legend of Mr. Rager
Record Label: Universal Motown / G.O.O.D. Music
Release Date: November 9, 2010
There are a lot of things I could say about Scott Mescudi, but it would be a bunch of wasted sentences and paragraphs. Better known as Kid Cudi, Mescudi has become something of a tour de force in today's music scene. This is mostly due to his debut album Man on the Moon: The End of Day. The eclectic mix of pop hits and trippy soundscapes helped to set him apart from the sea of young, attractive artists all looking to make it big. His presence, though, is mostly divisive in nature. I've yet to meet someone who doesn't either absolutely hate him or absolutely love him, which ends up being both positive and negative when it comes to making a name for yourself.
My problems with Cudi begin and end with how he executes his ambitious concepts. There's a real focus and passion behind his music that doesn't get enough credit in mainstream media. Unfortunately, he often lacks the faculty to bring these imaginative images to fruition. He always seems to be one or two steps behind an amazing musical experience. With Man on the Moon II: The Legend of Mr. Rager, it seems he's on the road to finding what works, with varying degrees of success.
Cudi often likes to confuse listeners. His lyrics flow along at a beautiful pace and sound amazing when matched with the instrumentation, but don't really carry any meaning in and of themselves. It's apparent that the words Cudi wrote are heartfelt and powerful, but it's mostly up to the listener to infer the deeper meaning through the constant stream-of-consciousness vocal style he uses. The track “Marijuana” is probably the best example of this. If the title wasn't much of a hint, the song is mostly about the narcotic. Sure, there are a few moments of self-assessment from the habitual user, but these are few and far between.
While a plethora of producers had their hand in the creation of Man on the Moon II, they all do a fantastic job of keeping the same atmosphere present throughout the whole album. No doubt the strongest part of any Cudi song, the expansive landscapes that lay down the foundation on each track flow and ebb beautifully. However, one track in particular breaks the mold in a good way. “Erase Me” is a fantastic piece of alternative rock that carries one of the catchiest choruses I've heard all year. While Cudi's voice isn't perfect, there's something unique and heartfelt behind the lyrics that makes it sound incredible when matched with the musical compositions.
It's tragic, but some of the best moments on Man on the Moon II come when Cudi takes a backseat. Cee Lo Green outshines the young artists in almost every way on the intro track “Scott Mescudi vs. The World,” lending his exceptional voice to both the choruses and backing vocals. St. Vincent and indie rapper Cage supply two very different voices to “MANIAC.” The former provides a very old-school sounding female presence to the beginning of the song, while the latter infuses a special brand of craziness that Cudi seems to be emulating throughout the release. And probably the best feature on the album, Kanye West lends a verse to the aforementioned “Erase Me,” full of enough classic Yeezy flair to make the track a definite stand out.
I think it's safe to say Scott Mescudi still has a bit of work to do. As Kid Cudi, he's frequently invited us into his mind to take part in his own unique brand of madness. Sadly, it's a trip I'm not inclined to take too often. Cudi is, without a doubt, terribly ambitious. But I think he's beginning to overstep his limitations. Man on the Moon II: The Legend of Mr. Rager is a huge step forward compared to Cudi's catchy yet altogether disappointing debut, but still lacks enough substance to be interesting through repeated listens.
favorite track on the album is marijuana, but i understand what you're saying about his lyrics being vague. that song just perfectly simulates how i feel when i'm high (which i don't enjoy all that much) and i haven't ever found another song that does.
I definitely agree with the point you made about Cudi having amazing ideas that work in theory, but he runs in to problems bringing them to his music. Also for me, "Erase Me" was the best song on this album; Cee-Lo clearly shined too.