Words By Andy James
Scott Mescudi used to be one of the most exciting forces in music. Since breaking out with “Day ‘n’ Nite” in 2008, the Cleveland native otherwise known as Kid Cudi was recruited as Kanye West’s creative sidekick, expanded hip-hop’s universe with his debut album, Man on the Moon: The End of the Day and became “big brother” to a generation of lost and lonely teens with his equally fascinating sequel.
On December 4, 2015, Kid Cudi dropped his fifth LP, Speedin’ Bullet 2 Heaven, and it might just be the most disappointing album of the year, let alone his career. So, what happened?
Well, it’s difficult to succinctly diagnose Cudi’s downfall, but let’s start with Speedin’ Bullet 2 Heaven. In short, the album is a mess. For 26 insufferable songs —some of which are rehearsal demos — Cudi indulges his fantasy as a creatively impotent Kurt Cobain, yelling, moaning and mumbling lyrics that sound like they belong in an eighth grader’s diary (“No one’s home, no one’s home/Oh what a nightmare, I’m done with these idiots”).
Not to say these songs or emotions aren’t sincere (two minutes with Cudi’s Twitter timeline will tell you he’s still battling his demons), they’re just conveyed in the least inventive way possible over the most rudimentary guitar work. It’s obvious the creative spark that produced both Man on the Moon LPs has since been drowned in its own sorrows. Even the song titles on this new album, like “Judgmental Cunt” and “Angered Kids,” are painfully uninspired.
If you’ve followed his last few releases, this is hardly a surprise, though. Cudi’s commercial appeal and critical acclaim have progressively waned in the years since Man on the Moon II, while his fanbase has been whittled down to the fiercely loyal few. In fact, Cudi’s artistic devolution has been such a running joke, he felt compelled to address the topic on Twitter in October.
The worst part about those tweets wasn’t his pretentious putdown of listeners who might not enjoy his album, nor was it him defending the music before it was even released (an admission of failure if there ever was one). The worst part was the thousands of followers who cosigned and congratulated Cudi’s deluded beliefs. These are the hopelessly devoted cheerleaders who have strapped themselves onto Cudi’s proverbial train, bombarding his mentions with hyperbolic praise. “Already hooked on this new @KidCudi album. Amazing how he perfected his own sound over the span of his career. This one’s [sic] legendary,” one fan tweeted a matter of hours after the album’s digital release.
This cycle of enabling even reflects itself in Speedin’ Bullet 2 Heaven. “Come on, Butt-head. Sometimes when you have a very powerful artist like Cudi, it’s possible that his songs invoke certain emotions and feelings, and those feelings are valid,” says the voice of Mr. Van Driessen during one of the album’s several strange Beavis & Butt-head skits. There is not a more fitting metaphor for Kid Cudi’s current fan base than David Van Driessen.