Kid Cudi - "Man On The Moon: The End Of Day" [Review]

When people look back upon 2009, they will realize it was a big year for hip-hop and rap. A lot of tensions rose as rap lost its real sense of identity. But was this loss of identity actually growth? Well if you asked Jay-Z that question, I think you would get a pretty clear answer.

I have talked about the importance of the next generation of rap as well as Jay's The Blueprint 3 and their effects on rap and hip-hop as a whole. But if you have read my review of the Jigga's new album, you would know it didn't make the waves a lot of people thought it would. So is rap and hip hop destined to remain in its current state of mediocrity? Well that's where Kid Cudi's debut album comes in to play.

To be frank, Man On The Moon: The End of Day is quite amazing as a debut album and also serves as a proof-of-concept that if rap takes new approaches to the way music is made, the world would be just a little bit better for everyone.

So why such high praise? Well the album innovates hip hop in ways I did not even expect. Based on his previous underground songs I knew the Cudder was unique, but on MotM it really shows how distinctive he is. Such creative songs include the MGMT and Ratatat collaboration "Pursuit of Happiness" as well as the fantastic closing track "Up Up & Away". The former implements MGMT's psychedelic pop on the chorus with Ratatat providing a fascinating backdrop for Cudi to rap over; the latter is not even close to the genre and is more like an indie-rock song. Both of these songs are strong testaments to Scott's powerful flexibility.
While all that creativity is good and all, the album and the lonely stoner really shine on his more personable songs like the stunning "Soundtrack 2 My Life" which has easily become my new favorite song of the year thanks to its catchy hook and effective storytelling. Another noteworthy personal song is the haunting "My World" which is all about the pros and cons of ambition.

Speaking of dark, many of the songs featured in Man On The Moon are surprisingly grim. "Mr. Solo Dolo" is one of the more disturbing songs on the album as Kid Cudi establishes himself as an outsider. Another collaboration with Ratatat has resulted in the eerie "Alive" where Scott compares himself to that of a creature similar to a werewolf. But it's not just a few certain songs that are darker than others: the overall feel of the album's midpoint carries an unexpected amount of darkness and weight.

The album also features many established hits that got Kid Cudi attention in the first place. I was afraid chart-topper "Day n Nite" would come off a bit stale on the album, but the song manages to feel fresh due to the storytelling of Man On The Moon. Also "Make Her Say" is a delightfully fun song that makes use of Lady Gaga's hit "Poker Face" for some, ahem, less than mature subject matter. Another well-known song from the Cudder is the Kanye West produced "Sky Might Fall" which has (thankfully) been improved upon for the studio release, adding some substance to the previously bare track.

The albums I can most easily compare The End of Day to are Lupe Fiasco's debut Food & Liquor as well as Kanye West's debut The College Dropout. Both of the albums featured men who were underdogs but had passion to elevate to the next level. Man On The Moon is very similar in this respect due to its wonderful new take on genre conventions, a fiery passion in all of Scott's deliveries, and a cinematic feel to the entire work on display (aided by one of the cooler cinematic devices used by the album: the narration provided by rapper Common).

Overall I think where The Blueprint 3 failed, Man On The Moon: The End of Day shall rise. It's just so original and raw with life that it cannot be ignored. Kid Cudi has delivered a stunning debut and has established himself as a defining future rapper.

Keep your eye on this Kid and you won't be disappointed.


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