Review Summary: Nothing hurts me anymore
Kanye's first collaborative album, 2011's 'Watch The Throne' with Jay Z was a mixed bag. While their chemistry and dynamic was brilliant and the album was fun and bouncy, it fell short and suffered more filler than quality tracks. Was it bad? Of course not. It's still a solid 8/10. But there were issues. Although the duo promised more album, they never came to fruition and the pair went their separate ways. So many Kanye announced a new project with fellow hip hop artist Kid Cudi, many held their breath in anticipation. While Kanye had an excellent track record, Kid Cudi's back catalogue was very Love or hate. His Man on The Moon albums were acclaimed though his forays into lo-fi rock alienated many. So, could the duo, christened: Kids See Ghosts deliver a solid album? In short, yes. Oh god yes.
Where to start with Kids See Ghosts? Well first off, this LP is in similar vein to the two previous records Kanye has produced this year, being Pusha T's 'Daytona' and his own record 'ye'. These albums were both short affairs, 7 tracks and around 20ish minutes long. While in Ye's case, this left me personally longing for more material, Kids See Ghost is ironically perfect at its length. It's all killer, no filler. I feel that if Watch The Throne was like this, a shorter mini LP/EP it could have worked better. Anyway, Kids See Ghost is really nothing like Kanye has made before. While his latest album was a more restrained mellow affair, KSG has a very clear influence from Cudi. Taking elements of psychedelica and lo-fi rock, similar to Cudi's Man On The Moon and WZRD. The second track, 'Fire' is led by a marching drum beat and chiming guitar notes before morphing into a dreary and oddly melancholy guitar segment. It's incredibly sudden but the guitar sound screams Emo/Grunge Inspired. The grunge influence goes further. The final track 'Cudi Montage' notably contains a sample of Kurt Cobain strumming an acoustic guitar under a wavey and icy beat. "Lord shine your light on me, save me please" Kanye, Cudi and guest artist Mr Hudson harmonise as the record trickles to an immensely satisfying conclusion. The sparse Radiohead-esque title track offers some incredibly calming yet oddly uncomfortable sound, somehow sounding both welcoming and frightening. Lyrically it's a hell of a ***ing downer. Cudi and Kanye are in pain, no less obvious then on this track. Yet, like ye, it's an album about overcoming that pain.
While the two are battling their personal demons, they are able to blood let with this record. "I guess I'm just sick of running" Cudi croones over a sparse drum machine track on the title track. As I said, the album deals with overcoming this as well. The absolutely heartbreaking yet beautifully optimistic 'Reborn' has Cudi serenading "I'm so reborn, I'm moving forward" while Kanye lays down a damn fine verse over a haunting keyboard. The track 'Freeee (Ghost Town, Part 2)', a sequel to standout track 'Ghost Town' from ye. Similarly, this track is also a massive highlight. The combo of explosive piano and frantic strings while Kanye screams how he doesn't feel hurt anymore, echoing 070 Shake's soon to be classic feature on Ghost Town Pt. 1. Unlike Ye, Kids See Ghosts doesn't feel rushed. These tracks have been worked on for a considerable amount of time and it certainly sounds it. Every note, every beat falls into place flawlessly, notably on '4th Dimension' featuring a prominent sample of a Louis Primer Christmas song, and flow reminiscent of Jay-Z's 'Dirt Off Your Shoulder'. The god like production makes Kids See Ghosts one of the most sonically pleasing albums released this year. Kanye and Cudi are on top tier form on this record, from Kanye's aggressive machine gun screaming on opening track 'Feel The Love' which features a sublime Pusha-T feature, to Cudi's strained passionate vocals on 'Reborn' and 'Cudi Montage'.
All in all, Kids See Ghosts is a damn good record. In fact I may even say it's near god damn perfect. Musically, it's a psychedelic swirling mix of guitar, drums and keys, which all mesh to from some of Kanye's best beats since MBDTF. Lyrically, it's an emotional yet triumphant march towards the light at the end of the tunnel, which Kanye and Cudi's chemistry propels forward at supersonic speed. A strong contender for Album of the year and one of Kanye and Cudi's finest efforts on both ends.
All of them
"Ain't no stress on me lord, I'm moving forward" - Reborn
"I guessin' I'm just sick of runnin'. All this time searchin' hard for somethin'. I can hear the angels comin'" - Kids See Ghosts
"All the evils in the world, they keepin' on me for real, I really hope the Lord won't hurt me, we all live in sin" - 4th Dimension