Kid Cudi, Man on the Moon II: The Legend of Mr. Rager
Official release date: November 9, 2010
All this week, Vulture has been monitoring compellingly candid person Kid Cudi as he’s announced he’s forsaking the rap music that’s won him fame and riches. Now Cudi’s sophomore album, Man on the Moon II, has leaked and, well — if this is how he sounds before quitting rapping, we can’t wait to see what he does next.
Cudi’s never been one to, in the common parlance, go in; his breakout hit “Day n’ Nite” was proudly unconventional, and his sing-song flow has only gotten more mumbley and spacey since then. On MOTMII, Cudi does away with rapping entirely for maybe a quarter of the album, and on the tracks where he does choose to rhyme roughly an equal amount of time is dedicated to letting a dark groove ride out semi-wordlessly. (Like he told MTV: “I don’t need three verses to tell you that I love marijuana … [so] let’s just have some stuff going on. Pull people into another world while they’re grooving. The rap is the thesis, and now just vibe out.”)
It’s a mostly downcast mentality: Cudi loves talking about how terrible being young and rich and partying all the time is, but it’s always — one would assume, purposely — only semi-convincing. Still, his publicized coke troubles do add a certain weightiness to his often platitude-y lyrics (“The pain, hurts, the sadness and loneliness / bottled all that shit right up, tossed it away to the bottomness.”) The joyfully poppy “Erase Me” and dialed in verses from GLC and Cage (who’s been doing this depression-rap thing for a minute) break up the darkness, until a triptych of posi-near ballads close things out on a decided upswing. “All Along” is our favorite of the three right now: Mostly just strings and drums, it’s Cudi’s minimalist, indie arena-anthem, and it’s an appreciated departure from anything else lumped into the hip-hop classification. Now just wait until Cudi actually learns to play an instrument.