While previewing Kid Cudi’s debut album, Man on the Moon: The End of Day (Sept. 15), at New York City’s modish Griffin nightclub, it’s hard not to picture the hipster’s favorite rapper walking on the moon in search of a rock to rest his head, sidestepping craters, wiping stardust away from the black frames he tends to wear, and pondering the “solo dolo” life before him. Cudi’s 15-track effort (exemplified in five acts narrated by Common) is played out in dreams catering to his desires and psychedelic “nightmares” celebrating his solitude as day turns into night.
Though at times Cudi’s introspective rhymes and croons were lost in the venue’s speakers, the gist was well-executed: the loner stoner’s mission for inner peace is a constant. He may feel like an alien invader amongst a throng of self-understood hip-hoppers, but his album proves that the genre does not fully understand itself when disco house rhythms and ’80s-esque pop warbling are sprinkled throughout. As Universal Motown President Sylvia Rhone put it: “Cudi has made a really seminal album. It’s a game changer.” Cudi’s day may be coming to an end, but his role in transforming hip-hop begins now.
Check out Rap-Up.com’s track-by-track preview.
ACT 1 – THE END OF DAY
1. “In My Dreams (Cudder Anthem)”
Opening with a bluesy rhythm and swooping keys, Cudi brings it back to the days when being signed was as far off as the moon. At the start, he relishes in what could be: “In my dreams, I can have everything.” But by track’s end, reality has played in his favor: “This is a dream come true, finally the perfect verse to sing to you.” Common’s narrative storytelling during each act places a welcomed cap on the track (“This is a story of a young man; this is the story of the man on the moon”).
2. “Soundtrack 2 My Life”
The heavy bass line draws you in to this head-bopping hip-hop track, while Cudi rhymes choice lines like, “I live in a cocoon, opposite of Cancun.” Statements like this truly demonstrate Cudi’s tug-of-war within while he looks upon a world of mass hysteria (i.e. binge drinking in clubs, scantily clad women roaming about).
3. “Simple As…”
Hearing this tune is likely to invoke a trance-like state of being once the stripped-down vocals of “A-B-C” and “1-2-3″ begin. But catatonia takes over after guitars lace the beat and a rocking vibe emerges, supporting the rap crooner’s “It’s as simple as…” lines.
ACT 2 – RISE OF THE NIGHT TERRORS
4. “Solo Dolo (nightmare)”
One thing Cudi does on this album is unapologetically sing. On this ominous record, replete with tinny tones, he masters the “oooh ooh ooohs” on the chorus while informing listeners he’s officially a lorn soul: “…Souring through paradise when I’m closing my eyes/ I’m Mr. Solo Dolo.”
5. “Heart of a Lion (KiD CuDi Theme Music)”
More singing in the form of “no, no, no,” this uptempo house jam overshadows the Kid Crooner’s word play. Lyrical enthusiasts may feel slighted, but dance lovers will rejoice in the frenzied beat.
6. “My World” featuring Billy Cravens
Slow and steady like a locomotive, both the beat and Cudi take you for a ride. While sprinkled sounds of a piano linger around the chorus, the rapper lets loose about his consciousness. All in all, he’s hell-bent on getting his point across, rapping, “I told you so, this will be my world.”
ACT 3 – TAKING A TRIP
7. “Day ‘N’ Nite (nightmare)”
Like the Campbell’s soup slogan we’ve grown to love, this sonic gem is mmm, mmm good because of its foreshadowing lyrics and minimalist beat. Our first look at the inner workings and rap capabilities of Kid Cudi, it comes as no surprise this track falls dead center in the middle of the album, as the “loner stoner” ponders whether to stick with the sun or fall into the darkness.
8. “Sky Might Fall”
Millions were duped pre-summer when a trailer surfaced for Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen, playing to the sounds of this somber tune. Though the track was never officially part of the film, it was fitting nonetheless because Cudi brought some uncanny optimism to an otherwise cloudy situation. “What a world that I’m livin’ in/ Will the rainstorms ever end…/ The sky might fall/ But I’m not worried at all.”
9. “Enter Galactic (Love Connection Part 1)”
Shelter-club kids will bust a move to this funky disco house jawn (Cudi, get ready for the break-beat versions to pop up), while the ladies will swoon over the lyrical content. The rapper dishes out some spoken word moments (“I know it’s easy to imagine, but it’s easier to just do it”) and saucy corporal desires, with the opposite sex of course (“I want to kiss you in the place below your navel”).
ACT 4 – STUCK
10. “Alive (nightmare)” featuring RATATAT
“Every time the moon shines, I become alive,” Kid Cudi raps on this daunting track, which features rocking “wha whas” similar to an electric guitar. Lines like this, combined with “I’m a beast in the night,” makes one wonder if Cudi is a “Hip-Hop (Post-)Teen Wolf” of sorts. An added Cudi signature: fighting against the beat. The rapper creates his own lyrical rhythm, which tends to stab at a listener’s aural senses.
11. “CuDi Zone”
The ’80s rang loud and clear on this track, most notably calling on the vocal sounds of Gerard McMann on “Cry Little Sister.” Unfamiliar? Just think back to the vampire cult flick The Lost Boys; McMann’s record was the film’s theme song. One listen there will provide some insight as to what Cudi sounds like here, only Emile’s beat is more grandiose with sweeping strings and the heavy thumps of drums. At this point, Cudi’s searching (“I hope I can find peace somewhere”) yet satisfied (“In my zone, feelin’ all right, forgot about it all”).
12. “Make Her Say” featuring Kanye West & Common
There’s nothing better than the hip-hop spin on the requisite slice of pop heaven. Heard after popping up on blogs worldwide, it initially sounded as if Cudi won a game of “Rock, Paper, Scissors” against the featured veterans when beginning his verse with “Me first.”
13. “Pursuit of Happiness (nightmare)” featuring MGMT & RATATAT
This pulsing rhythm, accompanied by twisting, amplifier-like sounds and a bed of piano keys, fits with the track’s title, somewhat. While the nightmarish tune reeks of tossing and turning rather than blissful slumber, the lyrics do fall into the latter. The rapper, though his mind may be playing tricks on him, has his sights set on the prize: “I’m in the pursuit of happiness… I’ll be good.”
ACT 5 – A NEW BEGINNING
14. “Hyyerr” featuring Chip the Ripper
Not once would the worlds of LL Cool J and Kid Cudi seem to collide, but here they do. Cudi shows that he too, just like LL before him (think “I Need Love”), can rap over a mellow, sex-dripped R&B jam and succeed. Only the younger rapper grabs hold of the baby-making beat and spits positive sentiments like “I’ll be chillin’” and “Life is short,” rather than the sappy stuff.
15. “Up Up & Away (The Wake & Bake Song)”
It’s fitting for such an orchestral track—full of cheerful strings and electronic guitar licks—to bring the album to a close. Another track reminiscent of the ’80s era, Cudi would fit right at home rapping to Sam over her birthday cake in Sixteen Candles. But with all the pondering he did on the tracks up to this point, it’s still a bit unbelievable to hear that Cudi “ain’t gotta worry about no drama” and “brush my teeth, no second thoughts in my head.”
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