Kid Cudi. Inicud.
Universal Republic, 2013. Kid Cudi: http://www.kidcudi.com/#!Twitter
Kid Cudi is a bit of a Cleveland Hip-Hop darling and his music is popular but unusual. “Day n Nite” was a big hit a few years ago and the world at large got to meet the lonely Cleveland stoner as he pondered his existence like a modern Descartes. He is a depressive Jim Morrison, stoned rocker murmuring raps and poems over esoteric beats (I guess that would make him later career Jim Morrison). His newest album, Indicud, features heavy themes of faith and resurrection and love/lust. The album dedication is even a portentous declaration, “This album is dedicated to Ben Breedlove and all my fans that have passed away. I will continue to guide in your honor. Love always, forever and infinite.” Most of the songs have solid beats but lack any real hook that is prevalent in the current music scene. A few songs are what would be qualified as “catchy” but Kid Cudi rises above the formulaic expectation of albums and refuses to stray from what he’s known for, creating music and raps that people who are down and out can relate to. He doesn’t sing to be used in a Jazzercise class, (Pitbull). In fact, I think I picked up on some nerd energy, with songs named “Lord of the Sad and Lonely” and “The Flight of the Moon Man” I envision him creating these tracks in his basement, probably in his Druid cape, conjuring up spacey music favored by Stoner Rockers and Pink Floyd fans. Actually, that’s the real comparison. He doesn’t make 20 minute songs but Kid Cudi is the Pink Floyd of hip-hop in the current world. Welcome to the dark side of the Moon Man.
I will say that Kid Cudi manages to find complementary artists who add great layer to his songs, and only in country music and hip-hop does the craft of album-long storytelling really exist with any consistency. This is Kid Cudi’s break from the Man on the Moon series and each of the tracks on Indicud feel like they belong to each other, working and twisting into the next like shoots of new growth. He blends rage, discontent, and Holden Caulfieldesque bitterness that churns his songs.
I have mixed feelings about hip-hop as a musical genre. Frankly, I hold it hostage only because I think it should be better and more constructive than what it currently it. Sure we have Cudi, Macklemore, and Nas. But this is the musical genre that started with Grandmaster Flash and N.W.A; I feel that the genre has slipped into sweaty dance club hits that talk about how a large ass made a man fall to his knees instead of a nightstick. Not to disparage large asses, but it’s not as impressive. I’m just going to say it. Hip-hop lost its creativity and street credit. But Cudi, even when he writes songs that make me want to stick my head in a toaster oven, (“Girls” Featuring Too $hort, I’m looking at you), he’s still creating and it’s different from the masses, even if it is cheap. Also, Too $hort is never allowed to sing again, ever. But as soon as I get sick of his discussion of how everyone should be more open minded and “fuck” people of mixed nationalities (Medgar Evers would have been so impressed with how far we’ve come) then he busts out songs like “Red Eye” and I have to go back to begrudgingly appreciating his craft. Cudi took a true leadership role with the album, including designing the artwork and executive producing the album, and deserves a lot of the credit. He also plays guitar, keyboard, and drums on most of the tracks and that gives his work a more rock quality. His work is more musical and less rapper over backbeat. Is he a member of the women objectifying misogynist squad? Yes. Can he contribute good art? …Yes. Does that make my heart cry? Do I really need to answer?
Indicud is complicated work and an impressive one that is what hip-hop is often not, contemplative.
Personnel: Kid Cudi; King Chip; Father John Misty; Kendrick Lamar; Too $hort; A$AP Rocky; Michael Bolton; Haim.
Tracks: Resurrection of Scott Mescudi, Unfuckwittable, Just What I Am (featuring King Chip), Young Lady (featuring Father John Misty), King Wizard, Immortal, Solo Duo Part II (featuring Kendrick Lamar), Girls (featuring Too $hort), New York City Rage Fest, Red Eye (featuring Haim), Mad Solar, Beez (featuring RZA), Brothers (featuring King Chip & A$AP Rocky), Burn Baby Burn, Lord of the Sad and Lonely, Cold Blooded, Afterwards (Bring Yo Friends) (featuring Michael Bolton & King Chip), Flight of the Moon Man.