Kid Cudi’s musical career has been one of ups and downs.
His ‘Man On The Moon’ series has proved critically divisive, yet extremely culturally significant, with his fellow The Scott’s co-member Travis Scott citing Mescudi as the main influence for his musical journey; even naming himself after him. The past 10 years since Cudi’s second ‘Man On The Moon’ outing have been wildly polarising for the moon man. Since 2010 he has released five LP’s all to critical disapproval, his 2015 album ‘Speeding Bullet To Heaven’ even making many “worst albums of the 2010s” top spots.
However, the past 10 years haven’t been all lows for the Cleveland superstar. The past decade saw Mescudi nestle under Kanye’s West’s wing, providing his beautiful iconic hums for every Ye release since ‘808’s And Heartbreak’. Then in 2018 Cudi and Ye finally made a collaborative project - Kids See Ghosts – that was lauded with universal acclaim, cementing Scott Mescudi as one of the best rappers in the game today. Now in 2020 Cudi has expressed a need to prove his ability as a rapper and a lyricist, stating this plainly in an interview during the lead up to the keenly awaited final entry into his ‘Man On The Moon’ series.
Feeling “slept on” and wanting to reconnect with his younger audience again, Scott spends the first half of this project doing his very best ode to his protégé Cactus Jack. Trap Hi-Hats, dripping wet autotuned ad-libs and booming 808 kicks (traits seldom found on a Cudi record) dominate the opening two acts of this four-part epic. -
Act One tracks ‘Another Day’, ‘Tequila Shots’ and ‘She Knows This’ take heavy influence from the new school of young up and coming rappers; a position, until recently, Cudi was used to leading. The Moon Man subsequently weaves his classic psychedelic spin over the foundations of the tracks, with pulsating synths and subtle bells acting as musical stars in the fabric of the kaleidoscopic sky Mescudi is painting.
The track ‘Show Out’ - featuring Skepta and a posthumous verse from beloved rapped Pop Smoke - will undoubtedly prove to be the hit single of the album, seemingly acting as Frankenstein’s monster of what’s hot in both UK and US rap scenes. Here Cudi shows off his versatile vocal abilities, dipping and diving between a multitude of vocal tones, all whilst Pop Smokes infectiously loveable raspy voice blends with Cudder’s deep and impactful hums.
Scott’s trip through cloud rap experimentation and musical psychedelia continues throughout act two, this time delving deeper into the slowly throbbing pool of Scott’s mind; taking time to acknowledge the dark sludge that has tainted the once clear pool a now sticky black. Tracks ‘Sad People’ and ‘Mr. Solo Dollo III’ progress through the psyche of the Moon Man, with Cudder singing “I’m waiting to die”; at this point, it becomes impossible not to empathise with Scott Mescudi.
The final half of the album, luckily, breaks through the ceiling of sadness and sees Mr. Rager fully embracing his early 2000s ways. Gone is the darkness and modern trap instrumentation and in its place comes a rich, wide soundscape, detailed by light and vibrant colour. Cudi takes his time throughout the following tracks, his famous humming forefront on tracks ‘Sept. 16’ and ‘Void’, acting as sonic helium, lifting the Moon Man up and floating him through the rest of the album.
‘Man On The Moon III’ is arguably the closest you can get to reliving that feeling of exploring the unknown you got whilst listening to Pink Floyd’s The Wall for the first time as a bright, probably wide, eyed teenager. Travelling through Cudi’s personal journey of acceptance throughout the final minutes of the album is completely blissful, with Phoebe Bridgers feature on ‘Lovin’ Me’ acting as the tear duct lubricant fans were surely awaiting up until this point.
And just as all is coming to an end and the final synths are trailing off and the final story of the man on the moon series is giving you time to comprehend the masterpiece you just listened to, a child’s voice whispers hauntingly “to be continued”. It’s not clear if this is to be the last instalment of the man on the moon franchise, but what is clear is that Kid Cudi is back on track, and with this release, has made his best solo album to date.
Words: Mason Meyers
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