For those of us who understood “Man On The Moon: The End Of Day” (the debut album of rapper, singer, and actor Kid Cudi) as a challenging declaration of intentions for the post-Kanye generation - as haughty and imperfect as it was fascinating and ambitious - the second chapter in the saga, “Man On The Moon II: The Legend Of Mr. Rager”, couldn’t have been more disappointing. It was a failed, misguided, and distinctly contradictory attempt; laying to waste all of the merits and good qualities of its predecessor, in the name of a liberation of creative spirit that no one seemed to understand. Overnight, Cudi discovered rock, got tired of rap, totally changed the course of his musical career, and toyed with the idea of retiring - in order to justify an unbearable sound reorientation that gave us a bad feeling right from the very start.
Now the fear has become a reality: WZRD, Cudi’s joint project with producer Dot Da Genius, confirms that the rock experiments of “Man On The Moon II: The Legend Of Mr. Rager” were neither the result of a state of temporary insanity, nor a witticism intended to challenge our expectations. It was for real. And what’s worse, Cudi seems to have liked his experimentation; finding it convincing. Because that is what “WZRD” is all about: a very unsubtle fusion of stiff guitars, a hodgepodge of beats, lo-fi production, vocal effects and synthesizers which are almost prog. No rap, all sung, and - excuse my language - bloody awfully recorded. Here the issue isn’t the change of style (even though it is unbelievable, forced, and harsh) but something much simpler: as a rock album it is dreadful, and frankly we could do without it.
I don’t know whether it is intentional or not, but “WZRD” sounds bad. It’s just plain ugly - sounding like a compilation of home recordings. It’s hard to accept that this Dot Da Genius is the same one who recorded “Day N’ Nite”, one of the high points of the rapper’s debut. However, it suggests that the two of them have evolved in a parallel manner, sharing these new interests simultaneously. But the idea doesn’t work at all, any way you look at it. They want to weave together progressive rock, psychedelic rock, and grunge influences with electronic beats and the rapper’s impersonal voice - without appreciating that it’s dangerous ground. They leap around like bulls in a china shop. Cudi doesn’t have the voice for it and Dot Da Genius lacks the necessary, relevant experience to be able to head into such risky territory without slipping up repeatedly. As amazing as it may seem, both of them are convinced that the project is solid - they say that there will be a tour for example - but one must assume that sooner or later someone will make them see reason. Hopefully we can then convince ourselves that this has all just been a product of our collective imagination.
Where Did You Sleep Last Night?