Kid Cudi’s ‘Man On The Moon’ Turns Six: Ranking The Songs From A Game-Changing Debut

09.15.15 2 years ago 26 Comments

kid cudi man-on-the-moon-album cover

G.O.O.D. Music

Since he came onto the scene around 2007, Kid Cudi has been one of the most enigmatic artists in hip-hop. Yet, of all the highly debated releases, none have been celebrated like his debut album, Man on the Moon: The End of Day. After building a big enough buzz on the mixtape circuit to earn Kanye West’s musical partnership, this kid from Cleveland drew rave reviews from fans and critics alike for his first official release from G.O.O.D. Music.

The project featured past collaborators Emile, Plain Pat, Dot da Genius and merged them with new sounds from Ratatat and West. The combination formed a vivid template for a new era in rap, where lyrics ultimately become less important than melody and sheer emotion drives the end user. To reinforce how important Cudder’s debut LP is to the current sing-song state of hip-hop, we’ve ranked all of the album’s songs. Young guns, feel free to get nostalgic over MOTM‘s sixth anniversary of its September 15, 2009 release.

15. “In My Dreams (Cudder Anthem)”

The so-called “Cudder Anthem” could be written off as only an intro; a literal one at that, but it’s purposely not an intro. This is a three-minute song, filled with downtrodden sunshine vibes about dreams and happiness. Thankfully, after Cudi finally stops tripping off himself, Common comes in and kicks off the album properly. This one gets skipped every time.

14. “My World” featuring Billy Cravens

Some people misunderstood Kid Cudi’s half-sung flow, but most times, his versatility worked to his advantage. Other times, not so much. “My World” featured the worst side of that style and the result almost made you wish Cudi was more concise. The lazy flow didn’t do his mean concept or Emile’s epic production justice at all. You can rode out to the hook, though.

13. “Heart of a Lion (Kid Cudi Theme Music)”

You can’t be mad at “Heart Of A Lion,” but at the end of the day, track five from MOTM is somewhat average. The triumphant production from Free School is quality, but feels repetitive, much like the roller-coaster cadence Cudi uses. The song gets old easily, which is tough because Scott’s fiery, fist-shaking lyrics are worth sticking around for.

12. “Hyyerr” featuring Chip tha Ripper

It’s easy to see how a song like “Hyyerr” makes the cut, being that Kid Cudi and his homie King Chip grew up smoking weed to Bone Thugs in Cleveland. That legacy makes us appreciate the song more. But, is this one of the most memorable tracks from MOTM? Not really. Blame the dope.

11. “Up Up & Away”

To some, “Up Up & Away” might come across corny. To others, this commercial killer could be their favorite track from Kid Cudi’s debut LP. Gassed by Free School’s guitar-based production and an above average tempo for an album that dabbled in the darkness, this uplifting ode to dusting off your shoulders is a safe and feel good end cap to MOTM.

10. “Sky Might Fall”

One of the first songs fans heard from MOTM was “Sky Might Fall,” which leaked months before the album’s late Summer 2009 release. Well, those Kanye West drums are still knocking as ever and this collaborative effort between the two G.O.O.D. Music members still stands as one of the project’s toughest tracks.

9. “Enter Galactic (Love Connection Part I)”

The driving groove Kid Cudi and producer Matt Friedman cooked up for “Enter Galactic” is the type you can pop on and immediately blast off to. Which is appropriate because the song is about taking mushrooms. Whether you’re stone sober or straight out of this world, this is arguably the most fun song on MOTM.

8. “Solo Dolo”

Emile’s production on “Solo Dolo” is fit for a super-villain. Somehow, Cudder managed to match the essence of his murderous beat, by bringing about his demons and splashing them across the canvass, finally bringing the dark Mr. Solo Dolo into the light. It’s unquestionably dope, but only works in the proper setting.

7. “Make Her Say” featuring Kanye West and Common

Right as Lady Gaga was becoming a worldwide superstar, Kanye West flipped an acoustic version of her song “Poker Face” into what would eventually become the official lead single to MOTM. Between the Gaga connection, a sixteen from both Common and Kanye and scratches from A-Trak, Cudi basically had a perfectly thrown alley-oop to slam home with ease.

6. “Cudi Zone”

From the sound of it, the “Cudi Zone” sounds like a pretty intense place. The song mixes string symphonies, endless arpeggiators and concrete-cracking drum. Then it adds in-prime Cudder who goes a million miles an hour and full of fist-clenched confidence. When the hook finally hits, all you can do is erupt in unison with Cudi’s self-acceptance.

5. “Alive” featuring Ratatat

For all the dark spots on MOTM, there were just as many positive grooves. Yet, despite getting the ‘Nightmare’ nod on the tracklist, “Alive” feels directly in the middle of either mood. The wailing beat from Ratatat evokes choice vocal melodies from Cudder, who nails every aspect of this song vocally and kicks one of his best pure rap verses of the project towards song’s end.

4. “Day ‘n’ Nite”

Considering “Day ‘n’ Nite” was originally released on Cudder’s breakthrough Kid Named Cudi mixtape, most fans had played this one out by the time MOTM was in their decks. Yet, the spacey production from Dot da Genius did send Cudi’s career to another stratosphere, so it’s only right the song made the album.

3. “Soundtrack 2 My Life”

After the unnecessarily drawn out intro on MOTM, listeners are given a true initiation to Cudi’s character on the second track, “Soundtrack 2 My Life.” Using production that’s simultaneously bright and hazy from Emile as his confessional, Cudder sheds some light on his various layers and turns a shaky common ground between him and listeners into a repeat-ready favorite that gets belted out every spin.

2. “Simple As…”

Like skipping stones on a hot summer day or cruising down the open road with no speed limit sight, “Simple As” feels 100 percent carefree. And that’s the beauty of this MOTM highlight. Plain Pat’s constructive production comes together beautifully right before your ears, as Cudder slides through in his element, playing up his underdog status and trying to gain an edge with charming, chin-up style. The song is barely more than two minutes and still manages to feature all of Cudi’s best qualities.

1. “Pursuit of Happiness” featuring MGMT and Ratatat

When MOTM came out in 2009, anyone who listened to the album could tell “Pursuit of Happiness” had the most mass appeal. With features from alternative superstars MGMT and brooding production from Ratatat, Kid Cudi’s celebratory single speaks to the dreamer in all of us and used that bond to became a crossover success and one of Cudi’s most revered record to date. If you’re going to make emotional music, you might as well give it reach, right?

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