Kid Cudi
Man on the Moon III: The Chosen


3.6
great

Review

by Rowan5215 STAFF
December 14th, 2020 | 129 replies


Release Date: 12/11/2020 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Can't lose 'em in the third act.

There's something about Kid Cudi that makes my analytical brain want to shut down, pack up shop and take a long break from reading Genius annotations and ranking the entire run of Bojack Horseman. Sure, his music takes me back to being 13, hearing "Day 'n' Nite" for the first time again, as it probably does for you if you're listening to a Kid Cudi album in 2020. But there's something else at play - some part of his corny, ridiculous music that I can never seem to conceptualise an argument against. When he's at his best, Cudi is impervious to all the flaws that are evident in his very approach.

Man on the Moon III: The Chosen isn't Cudi at his best, but nor is it that far off. Since this is more or less a review on more or less a music site, I'll take a shot at elaborating on why. The first positive note is that The Chosen is blessedly shorter than its predecessor, the lumbering but charming Passion, Pain & Demon Slayin', coming in 30 minutes leaner and with a far better title to boot. But even though The Chosen comes in with more energy than Passion's soporific opening run, the two albums aren't all that different, despite the immediate air of prestige bestowed by the Man on the Moon prefix. Highlights from The Chosen really could slot right onto its predecessor, including the trippy "Mr. Solo Dolo III" and sweetly sentimental "Sept. 16". Both albums also tactically employ features to weave their tapestries, although the likes of Skepta and Trippie Redd here are a pretty poor downgrade from the jolt of manic energy Andre 3000 supplied to discog highlight "By Design". Stunningly, The Chosen's best collab is one that sounds like something Sowing and Chan would come up with in a round of Mad Libs; "Lovin' Me" sees Cudi and Phoebe Bridgers trading breathy verses over a gorgeous piece of production, an easy album highlight and reprieve from the emotionally intense songs surrounding it.

Not that the album could do without those songs too. When listening to Kid Cudi, there's a teenager inside all of us hoping for another emotional knockout that will hit the spot "Pursuit of Happiness" or "Cudi Zone" did when we first heard them, young and innocent and barely knowing what a Kendrick Lamar was. "The Void" is your emotional ringer here, an absurdly affecting ballad with a devastating ad-libbed outro that might well justify the entire album's existence - although longtime fans will also likely find the warped indie tune "Elsie's Baby Boy (flashback)" deeply compelling, as it summarises more or less the entire Man on the Moon narrative in three minutes and change. Meanwhile, the subtly mutating "She Knows This" is probably the closest thing to a "Make Her Say" type bop, a vivid technicolour reminder of what made Scott Mescudi so ***ing great in the first place. No, he's not proficient with rapping; no, his singing is not, in any technical sense, good. And yet Kid Cudi somehow finds a way to make these facts not only acceptable, but preferable. I can't imagine anyone else singing the chorus of "The Void" in that monotone warble, completely without pretension and full of emotion.

The question I'm wrestling with in summary is whether you can be disappointed in an album and still more or less enjoy the music. This is a fun, sometimes moving project, extremely consistent and concise by the standards we apply to Kid Cudi since around 2013. It's also a Man on the Moon chapter in name only. Sure, he copies Common's cheesy narration from The End of Day for a second and there's a blink-and-miss-it callback to "In My Dreams", but lyrically and musically this is just another Kid Cudi album, one which sees him reverse-influenced by artists he had originally influenced like Travis Scott. This writer would even argue that Passion, Pain & Demon Slayin', where the concept of 'the chosen' was first introduced into this Kid Cudi Musical Universe, feels more like a Man on the Moon III, but we'd be splitting hairs. There's nothing Kid Cudi could release in 2020 that actually feels like the album he would have made immediately after The Legend of Mr. Rager, and even if there was, we'd all be talking about how little new ground it breaks. The Chosen then is the perfect middle ground: nostalgic enough, good enough, but also dedicated enough to just being a goddamn album without all the baggage. I keep returning to that one-two punch of "The Void" and "Lovin' Me", the former classic Cudi in every respect, a song that transported me back to 2010 with enough force that I felt whiplash; the latter a collaboration that could only exist in 2020 with an indie pop figurehead of the generation after St. Vincent (who Cudi worked with on one of his all-time best, "MANIAC"). For that brief moment, where neither style could exist without the other for balance, Man on the Moon III: The Chosen is completely clear and compelling. If Cudi chases that feeling to its logical endpoint, maybe Man on the Moon IV wouldn't be such a bad idea.



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user ratings (164)
3.5
great

Comments:Add a Comment 
Rowan5215
Staff Reviewer
December 14th 2020


44664 Comments

Album Rating: 3.6

tl;dr this is p good



"She Knows This": https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tP2S80uZERg



"The Void": https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GKDY5YMpyUc



"Lovin Me": https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sGJc9c3WLJM

Digging: Hayley Williams - FLOWERS for VASES / descansos

unclereich
December 14th 2020


9713 Comments


man on the moon III: I couldn't think of a better title

Digging: Plutocracy - Sniping Pigz

normaloctagon
December 14th 2020


4325 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

are just a few tracks streaming then?

Digging: MF DOOM - Special Herbs: The Box Set

normaloctagon
December 14th 2020


4325 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

i barely want to listen to this and it's already proving too difficult : (

unclereich
December 14th 2020


9713 Comments


14. Lovin' Me (feat. Phoebe Bridgers)

*neeka breathes heavily*

normaloctagon
December 14th 2020


4325 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

lmao

LeddSledd
December 14th 2020


3962 Comments


"and take a long break from reading Genius annotations and ranking the entire run of Bojack Horseman"

Digging: -

Rowan5215
Staff Reviewer
December 14th 2020


44664 Comments

Album Rating: 3.6

"are just a few tracks streaming then?"



no it's all out I just posted my favourites

normaloctagon
December 14th 2020


4325 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

oh sweet



jamming this now

normaloctagon
December 14th 2020


4325 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

"The question I'm wrestling with in summary is whether you can be disappointed in an album and still more or less enjoy the music."



the answer is yes



"one which sees him reverse-influenced by artists he had originally influenced"



m/ nice

unclereich
December 14th 2020


9713 Comments


123

Rowan5215
Staff Reviewer
December 14th 2020


44664 Comments

Album Rating: 3.6

oh ok cool. I'll redo the whole review one sec

normaloctagon
December 14th 2020


4325 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

album is fun so far. i'm by no means overexposed to modern hip hop, trap, trap'n'b, 'mumble rap' etc whatever the kids are calling it these days, so the melodies here are perfectly tasty to me. fun beats, some are better than others



I do think it's tragic how kid cudi influenced such a huge part of modern hip-hop and has been pretty much the opposite of relevant for years now

Slex
December 14th 2020


10923 Comments


There is waaaaaayyyyyy too much rapping Cudi on this so far

unclereich
December 14th 2020


9713 Comments


HARK!

Fort23
December 14th 2020


3763 Comments


Never followedd this mans career after man on the moon ii, i hate that song pursuit of happiness

Rowan5215
Staff Reviewer
December 14th 2020


44664 Comments

Album Rating: 3.6

dw slex second half will provide the good shit

normaloctagon
December 14th 2020


4325 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

"show out" is pretty bad

Slex
December 14th 2020


10923 Comments


Thank God, relieved to hear that lol

normaloctagon
December 14th 2020


4325 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

mmmm feelin 'sad people' nice tune



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