Review Summary: Experimental production and sluggish vocals might bore or alienate some, but the album is still an interesting experience for those wishing to expand their minds.
Kid Cudi is a unique individual. He's a result of the resurgence of introspective pop music after the release of 808s and Heartbreak, along with Drake and a few others. Cudi is typically regarded highly in the hip-hop community for being accompanied by almost nightmarish production and sense of rhythm/harmony, even though he doesn't have the greatest voice. According to friends of mine, he also creates some of the greatest stoner tunes in the business. Both of the installments in the Man on the Moon series have been critically well-received. However, when one is critically and commercially popular, it can lead to slight issues with ego. Cudi decided, on a whim, he was going to create the rock album WZRD. And to say the response to the release was lukewarm would be a gross understatement. Not only was WZRD a large dent in Cudi's reputation, his guest spot on the Cruel Summer album, "Creepers", was interpreted by most Cudi fans as a disappointment. To put it simply, people began to question whether Cudi still had it in him to return to the Man on the Moon magic. Until recently, when he released the incredibly well-received tracks "King Wizard", "Just What I Am", and "Immortal". Fans are probably asking if the rest of the album compares to what we've all heard so far. That's not the issue here. Every track is basically the same in terms of vocal and production style. And that's why it may or may not appeal to Cudi fans. In attempting to be original, Cudi has sacrificed his focus on making interesting and provoking music. Instead, going for an independent and experimentally styled aesthetic has led to alienating elements of what might be considered regular or mainstream. It's almost a manifesto, a rebellious statement by Cudi that he makes music for himself, and only for himself.
I actually enjoy some of the production on the album for the most part, even if the tricks and attempts to sound weird can be consistently annoying after a dedicated listen. It's weird, psychedelic, sometimes catchy, and incredibly dark. But, it also feels cheap and rushed. Listeners might enjoy the primary concept in these instrumentals (and some of the tracks are nothing but instrumentals), but might not enjoy the mixing or the amount of work that seems to be put into it. The experience of Indicud is generally akin to watching an extremely entertaining television show when you barely can retain a signal. The core story or plot may have some value, but you can barely make it out through all the static. "Girls", and "Mad Solar" are standouts in terms of unpolished beats and samples. If music that's been painstakingly designed isn't an issue, I'd expect any Kid Cudi fan to enjoy most of the tracks on this album. It shares genetic material with both installments of Man on the Moon, and certainly isn't an auditory chore like WZRD. There are many favorites of mine here that will achieve multiple listens, due to their extremely unique and quite catchy sense of construction. "Un***wittable," "Just What I Am", "Kid Wizard", "Immortal" "Solo Dolo Pt. II", "Beez" and "Burn Baby Burn" are worth the purchase of this album alone, if you're looking for new musical experiences.
Now with interesting and unique production, there must be equally inspired rapping/singing, right" Not exactly. Cudi, has always had a very slow and casual delivery, but here it sounds bored. There is a relaxing sheen to some of the dullness, and I'm certain it will be perfect music to smoke weed to. However, us casual fans who aren't stoners and don't really have much experience with drugs might not be equally impressed by Cudi's rhythms. There are spots where he does sound passionate and invested, especially on "Immortal" and "Just What I Am", which are enthusiastic and anthemic. Other tracks unfortunately leave much to be desired, even if they aren't explicitly bad or terrible. "King Wizard" even though it's a generally acclaimed track, is one I found to be a perfect example of the issues and problems with Cudi's current musical stylings. He sounds sluggish and bored. A lot of fans might think I'm missing the point and bring up the fact that this is chill music for those who just want to get high and have fun, and I will agree in saying for the most part that Kid Cudi's lyrics and flow on Indicud are better heard under the influence. I'll leave it at that.
To conclude, Indicud is an album that doesn't hold up well to critical analysis. It has unclean production, sluggish rapping/singing, and a generally uninteresting main theme to those who aren't with the whole drug scene. (Cudi seems to be obsessed with dropping not only references to his marijuana habit, but also to his acid trip whilst creating the music.) But that's not the point. Cudi is making music for himself, which is a representation of what he believes to be a quality listening experience. And most of the music is undoubtedly a product of what will also be used to enjoy the album: mind-altering drugs. The album succeeds in being interesting on a regular level, but I can only imagine what it would be like with a different and new frame of mind. In an attempt to be original, Cudi has sacrificed a clean sound, for the most part catchy hooks, and multi-layered lyrics. That doesn't mean Indicud isn't worth a listen or two. Or three, if you plan on inviting your stoner buddies over. I'm sure they'll love it.