ALBUM REVIEW: Kid Cudi – Man On The Moon: The End Of Day

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Is there such a thing as a post–Kanye West sound? Cleveland born rapper, singer and actor Kid Cudi sure makes it seem like it. Not only did the Cudder (as he’s sometimes called) attract the interest of Mr West, with his first and only mixtape A Kid Named Cudi early in 2008. The former employee of fashion label Bape, was also hired for his song writing services and backing vocals on some of Kanye’s most popular tracks (such as ‘Heartless’ and ‘Welcome to Heartbreak’) later that same year.

And so it is without surprise that most of the key Kanye sound symptoms are present on Cudi’s debut Man on the Moon: The End of Day (released via West’s GOOD Music label). These include: a rudimentary mix of swagger and self pity in both lyrical content and tone. The excessive use of synthesisers, reverberation and effects, leading to a technological aggressiveness and an impending sense of sonic Armageddon. And, not to forget, the slightly opaque combination of actual rapping and amateurish harmonising, along with a surfeit of choruses so thoroughly coated with cheese, so eager for you to sing along, that by the time they’ve imprinted themselves onto your central nervous system and have decided to remain there on constant repeat, you can’t tell if what you’ve heard is merely plain Pop trash or pure Pop genius.

The extent to which Man on the Moon… subscribes to the former or latter category depends primarily on which tracks you listen to, and in which order. The lullaby like opening “In my Dreams (Cudder Anthem)” is far too low in tempo to make for a solid introduction, but would have sounded perfect towards the end. While “Solo Dolo (Nightmare)” [produced by Cudi’s co manager Emile] seems to suit the darker middle section of the album, with its eerie melody. That is until the earnest and imbecilic chorus emerges and makes you wish you had avoided the song altogether.

That said, some of the finer moments on Man on the Moon… are worth the slight insults to the eardrum. With its giddy melody and electronic rift reminiscent of a video game soundtrack from the 1980s, “Enter Galactic” could easily pass for a party anthem of the year. And then there’s the (quite obviously) autobiographical “Soundtrack to My Life” which presents us with Cudi at his most sincere, genuine and self reflective.

Irrespective of this, there is no single track on Man on the Moon… which raises the bar any higher, in terms of song writing, then Cudi’s sleeper hit “Day N Nite”. With its slow, sinuous rhythm and themes of loneliness, the song seems to ensure that the album falls firmly into the category of not quite Pop trash, but very far from Pop genius.

Man On The Moon: The End Of Day is out now on GOOD Music/Universal Motown.

Reviewed by David Mensah

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