Lonely Stoner Lost in the Breakdown

You’d think toking would make a brother happy as shit, but Kid Cudi’s sophomore venture Man on The Moon II: Legend of Mr. Rager has more of the singer’s same “Pursuit of Happiness” lyrical downers. And aptly so — it’s where he shines. But ultimately, the rapper’s moments of boundary-pushing genius are lost in a predominantly disjointed effort.
Most of Cudi’s tracks focus on production value and psychedelia, but the album’s drumbeats, heavy synth, variety of instruments (including strings), Pink Floyd samples and guitar-heavy choruses make it even less danceable than Cudi’s first effort. For swagger-stacked rappers like Kanye and Jay Z, this would be a non-issue. But Cudi’s vocals can’t keep up — he stutters and stumbles in a dazed and lazy drawl, lost amongst his far more engaging backdrops. The confused track “Erase Me” typifies his misdirection; the chorus unexpectedly shifts to heavy ‘90s school-house rock — an avenue left unexplored in the rest of the album. The rager is winding down, and Cudi can’t keep his head straight.

Not that all of Cudi’s smoky slow-jams take a beating on Legend of Mr. Rager. On intro track “Scott Mescudi Vs. The World” (yeah, the self-pity isn’t lost on us either), a punchy and robotic Cudi raps over a tinkling, otherworldly track as crooner Cee Lo offers a buttery contrast to the rapper’s monotonous tone.
Man on The Moon II makes serious attempts at autobiographical honesty, but the lyrics’ poignancy (Cudi raps “I’m numb faced while thinking about suicide” on haunting “Please Don’t Play This Song”) is wasted on an overworked attempt to straddle genre lines. Instead, Cudi teeters on, but never quite crosses over into the edge of true discovery.

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