As we showed you before on Joe Budden’s Padded Room review, we aren’t just throwing Cigs at a dart board when we come up with these ratings. Our gang of scribes has divergent views on what makes good Hip-Hop and the love him /hate him nature of KiD CuDi gave us the perfect opportunity to showcase the method behind the madness. Below is the TSS Review Crew’s discussion of the Cudder’s debut, Man On The Moon: The End Of Day. Let’s just say this one took a while…
K1NG: I walked into this album not expecting much from Cudi lyrically, and for the most part I was right. That being said, he has a good ear for beats that match his style. They are all dark, moody and extravagant.
S. Cadet: I wasn’t expecting much from Man On The Moon either. I guess that explains why I was so surprised by the appeal. It’s NOT a rap album. Instead it’s an ambitious romp filled with vocals, synthesizers and well crafted orchestrated pieces. The beats compliment Cudder’s peculiar voice; the songs are catchy and none of it feels forced. Now before I get ahead of myself I can’t front like this album is perfect. Some parts just sound awkward. For example “Enter Galactic” took a nosedive when CuDi rhymes: “I want to kiss you on the space below your navel at/The place that you keep neat…so moist, like….towelette...”
J. Tinsley: After listening to this quite a few times, I’ve got mixed feelings. You can’t listen to it if you’re in a good mood or else your day’ll be fucked (Laughs.) Musically speaking, he has an ear for beats which is never a problem. However, his flow is ass. I understand it’s “alternative rap” but if you’re gonna call yourself a rapper, then, well, you gotta rap. Not that moaning and groaning shit and attempts at harmonizing. I appreciate the experiments, but they failed quite often.
MZ: Don’t go in looking at this as a rap album…because he’s mediocre at best. But if he sticks to this and evolves as an artist he could do something as good as 808s. Hell — he was a big part of that anyway.
TC: If Vincent Price’s performance on “Thriller” is considered a rap, then CuDi is undoubtedly a rapper. On that note, his style is definitely an acquired taste. But those unfamiliar can get acquainted easily on the “Take A Trip” portion of the LP, with “Day N’ Nite” & “Sky Might Fall” being formulated for mainstream ears, with hopes to digest the more ambitious areas of the album.
Jesse H: CuDi can be an interesting figure, that much is indisputable. But whether he can achieve greater artistic versatility and improve his lyrical technicality as his career progresses is uncertain after this project. It sounds good right now, great at some parts even, but, I guess I just don’t picture myself (or perhaps I just don’t want to) telling my grandkids about Hip-Hop and talking about Cudi, or “emo” rap in general for that matter. Maybe that makes me somewhat biased, but seriously, how long can this awkward bridging of the indie-rock scene and Hip-Hop last? Will this still be considered fresh a decade from now? 5 years even?
MZ: KiD CuDi is an artist that can rap. I remember Estelle saying that the track dictates whether she’s going to begin to sing or rap. I believe that CuDi does this as well, except he has no regard for song structure at times. He has no problem from switching from singing to chanting to rapping at the turn of a dime. I really don’t have a problem with it because it sounds organic. For that reason I think this will sound as good in 5 years because this isn’t some label packaged affair where someone was over his shoulder telling him what to do.
S. Cadet: At that point it doesn’t matter if it’s not a rap album. Some of his bars just don’t flow right regardless of the genre. Those off-beat instances are the low points of the album but they don’t come up frequently.
J. Tinsley: It is “emo music” I guess you could say, but he is able to carry a tune and make a quality record. “Solo Dolo” goes hard. He could very well make an 808s & Heartbreak-type album given progression. I’m still not a “fan” but I can say the album was pretty enjoyable.
Beware: The production is comprehensive and cohesive, despite the diversity in each of the themed “Acts,” and CuDi’s melodic flows fit tighter than his pants. For everyone who claims the album’s too emo, etc…did you even listen to it? Yeah, dude might be talking about problems he had, but listen further. The end result in each depressed line reveals fruition. If he was about to break out the razorblades, would he really have a “Heart Of A Lion” or the confidence to claim his “Pursuit of Happiness??!” He clearly says “Everything that shines ain’t always gonna’ be golden /I’ll be fine once I get it…I’ll be goood!!!” It’s that kind of realistic optimism that actually uplifts me when I listen. For real.
Jesse H: “My World” reminds me oddly of a Hip-Hop version of Pearl Jam’s “Jeremy.” I think at the end of the day, it’s 4 Cigs if you listen to it with open ears. But if you listen to it with the heart of a purist (which, let’s be honest, is a legitimate concern for every record found in the “Hip-Hop” section of a record shop,) it’s probably a 3.5 at best. The beats are sick though.
Beware: On top of all that, fuck indie-rock for a hot one, and tell me when you heard a rapper drop an album this innovative? Never. After the musical tidal wave Man On The Moon weaves listeners through, “Up Up & Away” is a fitting send off. This hot air balloon of guitars and circling whistles leaves Cudi writing off any ill thought he might’ve had throughout the course of the album, denouncing anyone that stands in his way by riding out catchy quips like, “Who gives a fuck if an aggin don’t like your steez/tell ’em buzz off your n-u-t’s…” Cheesy? So what? This is the type of genuine nonchalance and diversity that results in longevity.
TC: The paradox of being a 2K9 rapper is you can make a career for yourself without having to abide to any typical guidelines. Meaning, CuDi is doing him on the entire album but his off-key rambling pale in comparison to any artist with a true voice or an MC who actually goes in and spits. Like on “My World” he’s mumbling “I was heavy, heavy, heavy on my grizzle/And none of y’all had a clue about me…” Repeat. Rinse. Cycle. But it still manages to stick with you. And he did at least come crafty with the lyrics like he did on “Solo Dolo.”
Jesse H: You know what? I’m reminiscing how much I wanted to die when Jay-Z shouted out the band Grizzly Bear and admitted to currently being more into the indie-rock scene than the Hip-Hop scene (yes, really). Maybe some cute American Apparel type chick will read this and comment on how much she “totally loves MGMT and RATATAT too,” then I’ll take her to Williamsburg and then I’ll shoot myself.
K1NG: I’d honestly put this on par with The Blueprint 3 and possibly rank it slightly higher. Not sure if that’s a compliment to CuDi or a knock on Jay, but that’s where i stand. He is just a mediocre artist with an above average crew of producers and a knack for writing catchy hooks.. Nothing more, nothing less.
TC: I think this trumps The Blueprint 3 mainly for the fact there’s more to gain by revisiting Man On The Moon. I mean we had to give this multiple listens because it’s layered in a new style. Jay didn’t give us anything that he already didn’t cover on “30 Something.” CuDi may benefit from being a new artist but it is what it is.