Review Summary: sew these wounds myselfPassion, Pain & Demon Slayin'
was recorded before Cudi's public meltdown and rehabilitation, but released after. This gives it a slightly surreal feeling, like it was recorded in a dream state; it also means that it's essentially impossible to divorce the music on the album from the context of its release. It may not be Man on the Moon III
, but it's probably even better than that album would have been. PP&DS
sees Cudi back on earth, still staring up at the stars with the rest of us.
While this is his most poignant work since that superb third act of Man On The Moon II
, it's not the same Kid Cudi we knew then. There isn't any channeling of his demons/addiction into a separate persona, the eponymous Mr. Rager; in 2016 Cudi is all too ready to acknowledge that the demon is himself. This isn't a return to the sound of those albums either: the glitzy beauty of The End of Day
and drugged-out haze of The Legend of Mr. Rager
are upgraded to a spacey neon nightmare that has stronger ties to Pink Floyd and Portishead than anything hip-hop. PP&DS
isn't an apology for Speedin' Bullet 2 Heaven
, and nor should it be – any artist who has to apologise for a terrible piece of work has lost the right to make any work, good or bad – but it's an acceptance, a regaining of equilibrium. More than anything, it's a fuck you to everything that's dragging Scott Mescudi down. If his mistakes hadn't been so public, if his meltdown and rehabilitation so brutally available for the world to watch, would lines like "I did everything right, didn't I/so why aren't I whole?" be so affecting? Probably not. Are they gorgeous lines nonetheless? Yes. And after all, that's the point. There's arguably no-one more open and transparent in the scene than Cudi, even when that openness has dug up family deaths, deep insecurities and grave mental illnesses, far beyond the point when most people would have shut themselves off. PP&DS
is self-indulgent, silly, messy and heartfelt. It's Cudi at top songwriting form, and the songs on it are arguably the best he's ever written, but the only thing I really give a fuck about in the end is that it makes me feel something.