Rapper/singer Kid Cudi does not reach for the stars â€“ he lives on the moon. A self-proclaimed “weirdo,” Kid Cudi has a personality that made him an outcast during his youth so that he felt like he lived in alternate world. The result is his debut album, Man on the Moon: The End of Day, a blend of imperfect vocals and cosmic beats offset by sharp piano melodies. It was released in September through Kanye West’s G.O.O.D. Music label after impatient fans’ created mixtapes featuring the artist’s freestyles. Man on the Moon chronicles Kid Cudi’s journey from darkness to light, while he is “awake in another state, living in a new space,” encountering pitfalls and triumphs along the way.
Kid Cudi’s struggle with his father’s death when he was 11 haunts Man on the Moon. “I’m super paranoid, like a sixth sense/ since my father died, I ain’t been writing since,” he explains on “Soundtrack 2 My Life.” In the same verse, he also pays tribute to his single mother, saying “On Christmas time, my mom’s Christmas grind/ Got me most of what I wanted, how’d you do it mom?” The End of Day ushers in a darkness that causes Kid Cudi to confront conflicting dreams and nightmares. “The moon will illuminate my room and soon I’m consumed by my doom,” he rhymes.
Kid Cudi does not try to impress us with material goods or street credit. Instead, he admits to feeling insecure and isolated. His honesty and eclectic music taste produce the most electrifying tracks on the album. On the minimalist hit single “Day N Night” he sings: “The lonely stoner seems to free his mind at night/ he’s all alone, some things will never change.” Though self-conscious, Kid Cudi also experiences moments of strength. In “Heart of a Lion” he boasts that “at the end of the day, I’m walking with the heart of a lion.” On “Sky Might Fall”Â he advises us to “take what you need from the valley of the hope,/ Where even if you drown, you’ll be flying higher up,/ you can say ‘bye, bye, bye,’ / sky might be fallin’, but remember: you can fly high.”
Smoking becomes the means to mediate between Kid Cudi’s moments of extreme insecurity and self-confidence. The sleepy “Hyyer” featuring Chip Tha Ripper could sound like a clichÃ© track about weed. But Kid Cudi does not glamorize his drug use. He wants us to understand the “cause and effect” between his childhood sadness and drug dependency: “We float,/ we kids with hope/ better to cope when you smoke.”
Though a newcomer, Kid Cudi has support from established artists. Hip hop veteran Common narrates the five acts of the album, and although the narration seems superfluous, Common’s presence will spark listeners’ interest in Kid Cudi’s autobiography. Common and Kanye West also make guest appearances on “Make Her Say,” a track which cleverly samples Lady Gaga’s “Poker Face.” The song is catchy but feels misplaced in the album’s overall theme. Other guests include the independent electronic rock group Ratatat, who fuel Kid Cudi’s “Alive” and “Pursuit of Happiness.”
Man on the Moon is an honest narrative and a testimonial to the versatility of hip hop as a spectrum, rather than a rigid box. Kid Cudi contributes to a new lane in hip hop this year, with his insecurities complicating a genre stereotypically associated with inflated egos, violence and degrading women. Kid Cudi entices lovers of rhyme and electronics while leaving room for emotional meditation. Though he would fare better with less singing and more of his flexible flow, take a chance with him. He will take you “flying higher up.”