I Just Can't Get Into Kid Cudi's New Album

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We are all entitled to our opinions of music, and I surely have a strong one with regards to Kid Cudi’s new album, “Indicud.”  In short, I think that album falls terribly short of the high bar he set for himself with his major label debut, Man On The Moon: The End of Day.  I am not necessarily saying that the album is not good... just that it feels like a sonically well-produced early rough draft, as opposed to a more public-ready collection of high-quality songs.

Lyrically, Cudi’s work here is good.  The 18-track journey that he brings the listener on in this regard is emotional, as always.  Nevertheless, after listening to every song, I was left wanting more.  I constantly felt like I was hearing a collection of preludes, instead of captivating songs.  His toned moans are excessive, and seemingly placed wherever he could not come up with good lyrical content.  And while the stories that the songs tell are interesting, they just aren’t as impactful as I know they could have been.

Perhaps my main issue with the album is that the compositions are subpar at best.  When you return to his earlier work (mixtapes included), the instrumentals are incredible -- interesting at the very least and emotion-controlling earworms at best.  Indicud is gloriously lacking in this regard.  As an avid Cudi fan, it’s disappointing that he could not even pull it together in this regard.  With such a wealth of instrumental talent out there, it is truly a shame that he could not find a way to meaningfully connect with these people to help him produce an album at least in the same solar system as his first.  But after his mediocre Sophomore release, Man On The Moon II: The Legend Of Mr. Rager, I was expecting yet another album that lacked instrumental greatness.  Unfortunately that’s what I got.  This isn’t surprising, especially considering the fact that Cudi elected to produce this album on his own (a commendable decision, artistically).

I can imagine what someone who disagrees with my opinions thus far might say in response to all this.  Maybe it would be something to the effect of, “you don’t like his new album, because it isn’t Top 10 radio catchy.”  This would be wrong.

I am always striving to find new music, that is not formulaically what we hear on the Top 20.  Most of the songs on that list are extremely similar, in production, lyrical content, and compositional structure.  As someone who regularly plays Top 20 music during DJ sets, I am acutely aware of this.   But there are countless examples of artists who produce music that is never propelled into the upper echelons of mainstream music, and yet still blows minds with its intricacy and catchiness.  What is perhaps the saddest part of all this is that I know Cudi is capable of creating the latter kind of music.

At the end of the day, Cudi’s new album is going to produce a wide range of opinions.  What I have noticed among friends, online reviews, and other sources is that people tend to either really love or truly dislike this album (at least the people who are speaking up about it).  To me, I see a Cudi who has started to better deal with the emotional issues that probably propelled the creativity of his earlier work, and that is a good thing.  It is just a shame that his evolution as a person could not also have prevented the de-evolution of his music’s overall compositional and lyrical ability to captivate.

But just because I am generally disappointed with the album does not mean that I will not try to let it grow on me.  I have already indicated that the album was not what I expected, but I have not said that I flatout disliked the album.  It is just so radically different from what I expected that I’ve had a hard time personally enjoying it.  Nevertheless, throughout the next couple of months, I’m going to try to find just what it is that so many people do love about this album.   We’ll see how that goes.

Below are some of the standout tracks from the album.  Maybe after listening to these tracks, you can start to develop your own opinion about the album.  And if you’ve never given Kid Cudi a listen, I recommend checking out these songs: Pursuit of Happiness, Day ‘N’ Night, Up Up & Away, Soundtrack 2 My Life, and Memories.

“Girls” featuring Too $hort

“Just What I Am” featuring King Chip (this is one of the songs that I do really enjoy).

“Young Lady” featuring Father John Misty

“Red Eye” featuring Haim

“Beez” featuring RZA

“Brothers” featuring King Chip and A$AP Rocky