Kid Cudi Kid CudiMan On The Moon II: The Legend Of Mr. Rager
In the article Kanye West wrote for the latest issue of XXL Mag, which puts him on the cover and dedicates thirty pages to him in a report edited and coordinated by the artist himself, the producer and rapper stated he is no longer interested in making music like “808s & Heartbreak” because people like Drake and Kid Cudi have shown themselves to be better and more skilful at it. He felt like moving on again and, most of all, he knew how to interpret the musical actuality, absolutely submissive to two figures who have given voice and personality to emo-rap from totally different viewpoints. If Drake represents the pop vein, the festiveness, the accessible sound and total submission to the tastes of the female audience, a fan phenomenon in the strictest sense of the concept, then Cudi invokes the experimental way, the author hip-hop, the emotional darkness and the most tormented and existential vision, depressed and punished by his own demons. They both rap and sing, the both have prestigious mentors (Lil Wayne and ‘Ye, respectively), but there seems to be a whole world between the two of them. Day and night, yin and yang.
Only a few days ago, Cudi openly aired his ennui with rap and said he felt like making a rock record. It could seem like a tale of a pretentious artist who doesn’t feel the public support for his art, but the declaration of intent makes more sense when you listen to “Man On The Moon II: The Legend Of Mr. Rager”, not because he turns towards rock or indie crossover on this album, although its fusion of styles does lean towards “rock” territory, but rather because the feeling you get is that of dealing with an artist trapped in a formula that until recently was new and surprising but that hasn’t advanced or mutated at all. The second instalment of this saga, a large-scale project excessively ambitious on the conceptual side but undeniably attractive aesthetically and emotionally, could be a collection of alternative versions or throw-aways of the first one, in the sense that a certain musical coherence is maintained but with different and notably less impressive results than its predecessor.
In fact, Cudi, who repeats the production team of his debut, No I.D. and Emile, has run out of steam, and lost freshness and emotion on the way. While on his first effort, a torrent of original ideas and a channel for a contradictory, tormented, enterprising and risky personality, the way the rapper projected his emotions via a powerful, contagious, convincing and durable musical mosaic stood out, on this return the flow of ideas and great moments is less constant and smaller. The artist sounds spiritless, unfocussed and repetitive, as if that creative disenchantment and his much talked-about personal problems –especially his cocaine habit– had contaminated almost all of the songs and not in a good way, like on “808s & Heartbreak”, the record we will be celebrating until the end of our days. It’s a black, dense and pessimist album, yes, but it’s not emotive, it doesn’t touch us.
Grey tones, soulless productions, vegetating tempos without body or appeal, unfitting flirtations with rock – “Erase Me” with Kanye, is one of those particularly forgettable moments– and dull passages that give a strong feeling of déjà vu on a big part of the album are some of the problems affecting the record’s content. In his defence, however, we must remember the brilliant moments that avoid a total shipwreck and which allow us to keep our hopes up for the artist’s future: the frantic “Scott Mescudi Vs. The World” (yes, a tribute), with the help of Cee-Lo Green; the crushing “These Worries”, with Mary J. Blige, in a very becoming vocal and almost conceptual contrast; “REVOFEV”, the inevitable tribute to “How To Make It In America”; “The End”, maybe the most “hip-hop” track of the lot, a definite smokers’ track; and “Marijuana”, a good uplifting track, making it clear that, rather than a lapse, “Man On The Man II: The Legend Of Mr. Rager” seems to be a mix of many things at the same time: an experiment, a direct testimony of a certain boredom and tiredness with himself, a truthful diary of creative and personal confusion, an anti-climatic chronicle of a depression and an album of impasse, in expectation of change and new revolutions.