Mr. Solo Dolo, Kid Cudi, returns after steering clear of the sophomore jynx on Man On the Moon II: The Legend of Mr. Rager, yet tripping up with overzealous creativity on the disheartening WZRD. With a lot to expect and little to be overlooked, it was crucial for Kid Cudi to really deliver on his new solo project. After various tweets and leaks gave listeners more insight on what to expect with Indicud, it was clear that the hype was properly built to give everybody that sense of excitement felt when Cudi first burst onto the scene with his alternative sound back in 2009.
Too many artists succumb to the mundane routine of staying boxed inside a certain sound that can only last so long; Cudi is one of those artists that somehow finds a way to twist his sound to remain true to his style, yet give listeners something entirely new. Brandishing a fresh, new set of leaves, Kid Cudi branches out from being “the lonely loner who seems to free his mind at night” to the positive, full-bodied soul bursting out of his shell and exposing an entirely new side on Indicud. The normally shadowed emcee offers some brightness on this album never seen before. Man On the Moon II was profusely dark and gray in subject matter, while on Indicud, Cudi spits nearly every song with an unheard confidence, pride and overall strong sense of self. Nearly every song features an undeniable amount of exciting tenacity.
“Unfukwittable” opens with a movie sample alluding to the freedom felt when one could fly; Cudi then hypnotically rhymes “when the ground and sky combine/ I’m feeling more than fine” before shouting “you know that I’m unfuckwittable!” This overt assertiveness stomps on the shut-in, chilled-out Cudder heard on previous records. Other tracks like “King Wizard” find the Clevelander shutting everyone out and putting himself on a pedestal for working as hard as he has to get where he is now. “Immortal” is another example where right in the intro of the song, Cudi gives you the message of the song. This time it is in the form of an Adam Sandler vocal sample shouts, “I am the smartest man alive!”
This “new” Cudi is interesting to say the least. Besides the entirely “sudden change in [his] groove and [his] walk,” as he raps in “Immortal,” this is the first time Kid Cudi has produced for himself. In fact, save for two tracks where 88-Keys and Hit-Boy provided production, Indicud is entirely self-produced. Now that our “Big Brother” exhibits total control over the creative process in making his album, it is easy to say that this album truly represents who Kid Cudi is here and now. Whereas past albums exhibited the recluse that Scott Mescudi was as a troubled youth, a more mature, grown artist now seeps through the sounds heard not only through his words, but his beats, as well on Indicud.
An obvious influence of past works keeps Kid Cudi’s production in line with his former albums. Heavy electronic sounds stand as the foundation for the vibe, and filtered notes, melodies, harmonies and more shoot their way around the environment Cudi’s music lives in. Like a bullet ricocheting uncontrollably off the walls, sometimes these random noises are just that – random. While the majority of the production is quite spacey and curiously orchestrated, the trance-like atmosphere is undeniably distracting at times. Nonetheless, the drums are strong and provide formidable beats to underlay the rhymes spit by Cudi as well as featured artists such as RZA, Kendrick Lamar, A$AP Rocky and more.
On that note, another strongpoint for this album are its features; there is not one feature on this album that is lacking. Most compelling are the verses of RZA on “Beez,” for his old school flow, hard-punching bars and dramatic vocals create a daunting and irresistibly catchy song. A thumbs-up are also due to rappers Kendrick Lamar and A$AP Rocky, both of whom provided stunning flows and voluptuous energy to “Solo Dolo Pt. II” and “Brothers,” respectively. And as always, Kid Cudi likes to experiment and does so, amongst other ways, by successfully employing the all-female indie band Haim to support his verses on “Red Eye.”
While this album does give listeners a lighter side of the normally sullen rapper, Indicud comes off – luckily, only at times – as a sort of edgy experiment or test. As aforementioned, this is Kid Cudi’s first attempt at producing for himself, and while all praise is due to the artist for penning the rhymes and cooking up the beats, at times, it feels that the music supporting his words are just that – an attempt. There is a great deal of filler heard within the tracks that creates a shady line between Cudi’s adventurous alternative, chill-wave hip hop and the often-explored territory of electronic-ambient music. Both the intro (“The Resurrection of Scott Mescudi”) and the outro (“The Flight of The Moon Man”) drone with sawtooth synths, industrial drums and borderline cacophonous and certainly jarring sounds. This can be acceptable as intros and outros, but other examples throughout the album, especially on “Afterwards (Bring Your Friends),” show that Cudi seems to be enjoying just giving us his instrumentation and not the raps that this album should mostly deliver. Simply put, now that Cudi has gotten to toy around with producing himself and, for the most part, succeeded in creating a captivating atmosphere of sound to provide the backdrop for his lyrical schemes, hopefully by the next project, he will have the art down pat and be able to provide more music and less noise.
Every Kid Cudi album should be able to stand on its own, despite being a part of a series. Indicud certainly is a standalone album, not only in regard to the fact that the Man on the Moon title isn’t tagged onto it, but for the fact that it finds Cudi really expressing himself as a man in today’s times. Seeing an artist progress and find new areas to explore is always entertaining and Cudi definitely finds home through his positive vibes and almost deliriously genius production style. Indicud marks the time of a new Cudi, refreshed and full of vigor and ready to take us on another trip through his unpredictable, yet never displeasing mind.
MP3: Kid Cudi “Beez”
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