“Man on the Moon: The End of the Day” KiD CuDi Album Review
Man on the Moon: The End of the Day
Reviewed by Albert Samaha
It is obvious that Kid Cudi is different when compared to other rappers. The self-proclaimed “Lonely Stoner” prefers fedoras and flannels to the tall tees and loose jeans ubiquitous to many of his hip-hop contemporaries. He mocks his own athletic deficiencies and instead boasts of his artistic inclinations. He hates violence and loves cheeseburgers. Cudi speaks articulately, intelligently and with startling perspective. His reflective demeanor has made him an enigmatic figure in the music world. But after exploding onto the scene and catching Kanye West’s ear with his masterful mixtape, “A Kid Named Cudi,” it remained to be seen how Kid Cudi’s eccentricities would translate into a full-scale album.
The highly anticipated debut album of the 25-year-old rapper from Cleveland, “Man on the Moon: End of Day,” answered such queries, delivering a refreshing, genre-bending creativity not seen since the dawning of A Tribe Called Quest in the early ’90s.
On “Man on the Moon,” Cudi fuses the narrative elements of old school hip-hop with the futuristic, synthetic instrumentals popularized by his colleague and record producer Kanye West to create a distinct sound that will, at its worst, go down as one of the most unique experiments in hip-hop history and, at its best, stand as a significant evolutionary leap in a slowly decaying genre.
The album serves as an introduction to the Lonely Stoner, Mr. Solo Dolo, the Man on the Moon, the kid named Cudi, as an introduction to Scott Mescudi. Kid Cudi takes the listener deep into his unconscious, opening up the vault of his thoughts, secrets, fears and hopes – all those things which manifest in dreams. He talks about the death of his father. He talks about the financial struggles of his mother. He talks about his insecurities. He talks about loneliness. He talks about his life. The album is not for clubs, it’s not for radio play. It’s for all those who relate to Kid Cudi, all those who feel the same emotions he feels. His introspective lyrics allow the listener to peer into his heart, into his mind and deep into his soul.
The true beauty of “Man on the Moon: End of Day” is that it is not simply a compilation of songs. It is a story, meticulously ordered and poetically deep. The story, made up of five acts and smoothly narrated by rapper Common, details the bedtime dreams of our protagonist, Kid Cudi, from the moment he falls asleep to the moment he awakens. The first act of the album begins with “In My Dreams,” a slow mesmerizing singsong that swiftly immerses the listener into the theme and ends with Common introducing Kid Cudi as, “a voice who spoke of vulnerability and other human emotions and issues never before heard so vividly and honestly. This is the story of a young man who believed not only in himself but in his dreams too. This is the story of the Man on the Moon.”
Throughout the album, the talented Kid Cudi stays true to the theme. “Man on the Moon” is basically a long dream sequence which follows the protagonist through the emotional roller coaster of unconscious thought in five parts. From the contemplative drift into the calm of nighttime abyss, through the rise of the night terrors, through the psychedelic surrealism, through the wildest fantasies and back to the morning blur of aroused consciousness, in “Man on the Moon,” the whole is no doubt greater than the sum of its parts. Each song complements the ones before and after it by advancing the narrative and bringing a new aspect of the dream sequence to the listener. The album is best digested in its ordered entirety, as each track plays an integral role in the narrative. The creativity of the concept is decorated by the genius of the execution.
The album is not a club banger but rather a head bobber, characterized by mellow beats and electro synthesizers. For a concept album, “Man on the Moon: End of Day” is pleasantly diverse. Songs such as “Soundtrack 2 My Life,” “Cudi Zone,” “Simple As” and “Up, Up, and Away,” bring quicker, adrenaline surging tempos and catchy hooks. “Alive” and “Pursuit of Happiness,” which respectively feature electro-rock indie bands Ratatat and MGMT, add a wildly unique crossover sound. With “My World,” and “Solo Dolo,” Cudi brings a darker melancholy tone.
Incredibly the first three singles on the album, “Day N Night,” “Make Her Say” and “Sky Might Fall,” seamlessly blend into the themed track list despite the fact that they were produced over a broad range of time. “Day N Night” was released online over two years ago and featured in “A Kid Named Cudi.” Conversely,“Make Her Say,” which features verses from Kanye West and Common, was originally recorded just for fun and ended up as a late, yet fitting, addition to the album.
Throughout “Man on the Moon” Kid Cudi flaunts his surprisingly excellent singing voice, which at times (especially in the song “Enter Galactic”) sounds a bit like John Legend. Cudi amalgamates his vocal and lyrical skills to create a hybrid singing/rapping style that is evocative of fellow Cleveland rappers Bone Thugs and Harmony. The influence of Bone Thugs is palpable in Cudi’s music, both stylistically and conceptually. Cudi seems to pay homage to the legendary rappers by adopting their patented staccato stutter-step flow in “Hyyerr,” a song that covers a topic notoriously associated with the mellow and melodious rap group.
“Man on the Moon: End of Day” has pushed Kid Cudi to the head of the class of this new generation of lyrically-based, socially conscious young rappers, ahead of Drake, Wale, Asher Roth, Pac Div and J. Cole. The utter creativity and musical genius of Kid Cudi was showcased in his debut album. At a time when hip-hop seemed on the verge of death by way of hackneyed content, lack of substance and mainstream appeasement, Kid Cudi provides a rejuvenating jolt of imagination.