His latest LP, The Legend of Mr. Rager
, suggests that Kid CuDi may be a little more interested in the melodious side of his genre rather than the actual rap itself. That’s not to say Mr. Rager is lyrically mediocre, but that its “beats” are far more than something to rap over. Mr. Rager sounds more like Kid CuDi and his magical mystery band, rather than Kid CuDi the solo dolo. The End of Day
strongly emphasizes its production as well, but it’s all there to accentuate CuDi’s singing and rapping whereas its successor will sometimes let the instrumental go off on a tangent as his voice melts into the background. Guest performers also added a distinct atmosphere to that record. The lonely stoner theme is more prevalent on The End of Day while the lavish living and exposure to new and interesting styles seeps through the words and rhythms of Mr. Rager. When listening to this, his debut, you get the feeling that the person who recorded it was younger and excitable with more to say. The maturing of his own music as he matured himself is something a lot of artists will say they aspire to, and judging by the sophisticated approach and somewhat cheeky lyrics of only his second album (Rager), it seems CuDi was able to do it effortlessly.
Rewind to ’08, with Day N Nite
spinning everywhere and a feature on Kanye West’s 808’s and Heartbreak
(to whose record label he was signed that year), it appeared Kid CuDi was going to be the next big thing. Young people loved him for his psychedelic tendencies but more importantly, he wasn’t rapping about things suburban kids don’t understand. Instead of trying to appeal to a wide, generic audience, his music spoke directly to the “lonely stoner” (who didn’t necessarily have to smoke weed). While everyone else liked to dance and party to it, lyrically it was also a fan pleaser. The End of Day is motivational, yet simultaneously depressing, but in a good way, an artistic way…the kind of sad music you still want to listen to when you’re upset. What differentiates CuDi from most rappers is that he understands the importance of melody and since he does all of his own hooks on this album, he had the freedom to mold each song to match his imaginative lyrical themes. It feels more personal than Rager, and paints a clearer picture of the artist himself and what he’s thinking.
So what is he thinking? The album’s concept is that of a dream, beginning as he’s falling asleep, narrating through both nightmarish and pleasant thoughts, and ending as he wakes (and bakes). CuDi’s narrative remains conscious throughout, and isn’t tough to decipher as would be a real dream, but I think the point he was trying to make was that there are certain aspects of his life and career that he’d much rather just sleep through, or felt like he was sleeping through as they were happening. His dream wanders into blissful territory on Enter Galactic (Love Connection)
, a song about the dizzying pleasures of having sex and philosophizing with a girl under the influence of magic mushrooms (especially a girl who’s never had such a mind-bending experience before). It transitions from a rave-worthy pace to a calmer, quieter setting that allows CuDi to enunciate his rhymes in a more poetic manner, the words he really wants you to hear. He speaks to both us and his female company about imagination, as he urges her to entertain the wild daydream the drugs are creating. But to us, there is a different significance. If your imagination can never be fulfilled, it’s merely a squandering of thoughts. CuDi isn’t referring to the kind of imagination that can produce fantastical visions, but the kind that sees into your ideal future and makes you want to go there. These are the things we should strive for, not the likely, safe scenario. Of course, that’s easier for CuDi to say since he actually did make it, but if he didn’t try, he wouldn’t have. The determination, patience and indifference to baseless judgment it takes to make it in the music industry is something we could all take a lesson from, whether we make our desires a reality or not.
Sky Might Fall
, the song right before that trippy ride tells us that CuDi craves an escape, but that which he longs for is resolved by the time the cascading chorus kicks in. The real contrast to CuDi’s kaleidoscopic sexcapade is Solo Dolo (Nightmare)
. The staccato intro creates a scene of contemplating distress, with a clock-like “thinking” theme. His voice is significantly more wicked sounding than any of the other songs, with a step-by-step flow, perhaps to make the listener pay attention to each and every phrase. He wants to know his purpose in other people’s eyes, is he loved and accepted, or is he just another meaningless wall on which to write our grievances? To the people who say the latter, he has a message for you: his middle finger. Scott Mescudi, a lone wolf since his childhood in Ohio where he wasn’t considered normal, either. Happiness seems to be found only when he is “closing his eyes” and oblivious, so he questions the righteousness of going down the beaten path, and admits he would rather indulge in a more absorbed, detached existence. He truly comes alive under the comfortable cover of darkness and the mellowness of the moon, as told by ironically popular single Day n Nite
. As the rest of the city sleeps, the lonely stoner can peer into himself uninterrupted.
It’s hard to think of any real cons to this album, aside from the fact that the music isn’t so captivating that it would warrant a classic rating, however that’s something that is rarely achieved consciously by the artist, and this is a very conscious, self-aware piece of work that accomplishes all it set out to do. It is a great example of well done collaborative work (especially in hip-hop which thrives off such work), demonstrating the dimensions of a genre that has immeasurable range. You hardly even have to be a fan of rap music to enjoy this, as CuDi and his co-conspirators created an anthem for misguided dreamers, party goers and stay at home smokers, not a rap album.
Heart of a Lion
Up, Up, And Away
Soundtrack 2 My Life