As the hipster/skater sensation that is Kid Cudi runs off the steam of his stellar trio of releases from 2008-2010, it starts to feel more and more like Cudi is falling into his stories a bit more than he should. If you have followed Cudder from the beginning, you would notice a sort of sci-fi/fantasy thriller being detailed through his music; but with each album, the story telling starts to get less and less clear, and more and more dramatic. From Common’s interludes on Man on the Moon: The End of Day to the dark truths expressed through heartfelt verses on Man on the Moon II: The Legend of Mr. Rager, the Cleveland rapper had a knack for being so different while touching fans with his raw emotionality.
Surprising everybody before releasing the third installment of his Man on the Moon series, Kid Cudi dropped the prelude LP Satellite Flight: The Journey to Mother Moon through iTunes late last month. Thus, Cudi continued his story that started with MOTM. The story – a nightmare-ridden man on Earth who succumbs to a cocaine overdoes, but upon arrival in heaven is sent back to Earth – details Cudi/Mr. Rager’s descent from heaven and the moon back to earth for what will be MOTM3.
Although this may sound like a cheesy Sci-Fi channel movie, the story was actually executed quite well on MOTM and MOTM2, respectively. In 2008, it was hard to not hear “Day & Night,” regardless of whether or not you were a hip-hop fan; the reverberating drone of those damp keys and the singing of “the lonely loner seems to free his mind at night” hit the tops of a lot of quasi-introspective high-schooler’s iPods – the alternative sound was enticing to say the least. After an unfortunate drug overdose, the surviving hip-hop artist dug himself into a pit of “what am I doing?” and “what have I done?” on the dark diary that is MOTM2.
On his last album Indicud (which I also reviewed here) and on Satellite Flight, it’s as though Cudi threw out his ability to tell these stories accurately in favor of singing more, being weirder and focusing way too much on his subpar, spacey production. The first half of the album – notably the epic instrumentation on the intro, “Going to the Ceremony,” the lead single “Satellite Flight” and “Too Bad I Have To Destroy You” – is home to the better tracks. Besides closing out the album with the solemn “Troubled Boy,” this album is primarily ostentatiously overdone production hell bent on exploiting grinding synths, arpeggiated trance shots and other extraterrestrial-themed sounds.
At its highest points, Satellite Flight: The Journey to Mother Moon reaches back to those extra buzzy tracks on MOTM and keeps with that half-singing, half-rapping style that made fans fall in love with the Cleveland hip-hopper. The title track is right up there with some of Kid Cudi’s finest songs. “In My Dreams 2015” and other productions on here are not bad in small doses, but I’d appreciate these tracks more as a fading outro rather than multiple minutes of intergalactic ambiance.
As the unofficial soundtrack to the Academy Award winning film Gravity, Satellite Flight makes for the perfect set of songs to play while flying through space. For us earthbound creatures, this album is too farfetched to play more than those few times you’re feeling “weird.” There are tinges of some good in this record, but they are most likely drowned out by Cudi’s engulfing cosmos. Cudi originally planned this to be an EP but expanded it to a full-length LP; I’d beg to hear what it sounded like before he grossly stretched out the musical themes on this one. As much as I’d like to listen to a man groaning over club synths (“Internal Bleeding”) and to hear how he wants to take off his $1,500 pants (“Balmain Jeans”), I’ll just skip this prelude and hope that the main story is as exciting as its first two predecessors.