Album review: Kid Cudi - Man on the moon: The end of day

Album review: Kid Cudi - Man on the moon: The end of day
If David Bowie were born a black man with a knack for spittin' bars and a friend name Kanye West, then he'd probably be Kid Cudi. Almost a year working low key with Kanye on his 808's & heartbreak album, Cudi drops his own debut made up of 4 acts detailing the exploits of the man who lives on the moon. Can't knock the creativity. Ziggy is smiling up there somewhere. He has a friend.

Kid Cudi's album is difficult to pin in terms of genre. It will ultimately get pigeon holed as a rap album. But the album is a mish-mash of many musical styles and genre's. Kid Cudi doesn't even rap on some of the albums cuts. Some songs have him singing, others have him reciting. Musically, the album has strong old skool funk overtones, mixed with some trippy 80's sounds. I joked with my friend how Kid Cudi's album cover was one some Earth, Wind & fire shit, and you could say the same about some of the music too. "Enter galactic love" is funked to the eyeballs and drizzled in a production style that is very reminiscent of The Neptunes. When the chorus kicks in you're just overcome with the need to bounce, shuffle and electric slide. Well...I was anyway. Ratatat produced "Alive" has a Timbaland like bounce about it with it's occasional electric guitar licks that make you wanna pull out the air guitar whilst gangsta leaning and mean mugging. "Hyyerr" bares resemblances to Rose Royce's "Love don't live here anymore" with it's smooth strings bringing an air of melancholy. Old skool funk and rap are hardly estranged, so it comes as not surprise that Cudi embraces it for some of his albums cuts.

A large part of Man on the moon's charm is how Kid Cudi is not afraid to embrace elements of pop to help aid a record. It may not be seen as 'gangsta' or 'Hip hop'. But f**k labels! If a song is good, it's good. Near enough every song on the album has a catchy pop hook that sticks in your head on a first listen, and features nods to the likes of Queen right the way to Tears for Fears. "Pursuit of happiness" features an unlikely collaboration in the form of MGMT. On paper it seems like a weird pairing. But the track comes in at number 13 in the tracklist, so by the time it rolls around you aren't all that surprised to hear when MGMT come in during the hook because the album has chucked surprises in your face like a dodge ball with each track anyway. MGMT with Kid Cudi certainly seems to make more sense than Jay-Z and Empire of the sun. "Cudi zone" is an absolute cracker of a song with an unforgettable hook that would get a crowd swaying if the song were to ever be performed live. Those who liked Kanye West's "RoboCop" will probabaly like this song, as it shares many similarities: between its sung chorus, inclusion of light-hearted orchestrated strings and a set of hard knocking drums in complete contrast. The perfect marriage of rap and pop in a song if there ever was one. The album then closes on a complete sonic shift, taking on a UK Pop / Rock style for "Up, up and away". The song would make a great single across Europe and would get everybody goin' crazy at a gig. Not only does the song plain rock, but it's the perfect close to the album.

To bring home the feel of a story being told, Man on the moon features some epic sounding moments - as if Common's narration wasn't enough! "Heart of a Lion" sets much of the tone for the album and highlights Kid Cudi's cool semi rapping 'n singing style over an epic sounding backdrop that sounds not much unlike a Kanye West production. The chorus (as always with Cudi) is bloody infectious and anthemic. "Sky might fall" is an unmistakable Kanye West production. The music is dark, mysterious and plain hot. The synth work and strings ring with familiarity, sounding like something you've heard before in a Sci-Fi video game or television show. I was pretty shocked that Kanye didn't contribute a verse to the song. He let's Kid Cudi shine all by himself, content with having provided him with the perfect backdrop to do his thing on. Kanye and Cudi on "Welcome to heartbreak" was good. Cudi and Kanye on "Sky might fall" is awesome.

The album does drop a couple of 'ain't-no-mistaking-this-shit-for-anything-but-rap' moments. Which funnily for me are the album weakest moments. "Simple as..." is catchy, fun, uptempo and an easy breezy song. It stinks of Kanye. In the best possible way. But when you listen to it you are overcome with the feeling of "Shit, this sounds like Ye!" "Day 'n nite" is a weird one for me to listen to because I've been so used to the Crookers remix that became much more popular than the original across the UK. The remix is great to dance like a maniac to in the club when the warbled out bass on the chorus comes in. But the original music goes much better with the lyrics and tie in the ethereal spaced out vibe of the album. Then comes "Make her say". This song sticks out as the album lowest point because it doesn't mesh in with the rest of the songs. In terms of sound, it deviates from the conceptual spacey / ethereal vibe the rest of the album goes for. This song should've been left off and made an iTunes download separate from the album or something. Because it really does punctuate the album in a not so positive way, despite how good and funny a song it actually is.

One of the several brilliant things about Kid Cudi's album is that it's so accessible. Because the album isn't really a complete rap album at all, those who aren't all that into rap can find something they can feed into and like: much like 808's and heartbreak which reached far beyond the rap demographic thanks to songs such as "Love lock down" which wasn't rap in any shape or form. I can see the indie and alternative crowds finding much to like about this album. Cudi not being a huge mainstream star (yet...) will also fuel his credibililty with the indie crowd.

Man on the moon: The end of day for me is one of 2009's best rap albums. Shit... I'm inclined to say it's one of my fave albums of 2009! Kid Cudi's influence was strongly felt on 808s & heartbreak, which gave us only a small insight into his genius. But Cudi's debut album rises to the occasion and shows us all that he is a force to be reckoned with. And that rap can be creative without big name producers and auto-tune. It's easy to compare this album to 808s & heartbreak. After all, Cudi contributed a fair bit to the much talked about album, and Kanye West is the dude that signed him and executive produced his album. But Cudi is very much his own artist. And upon listening to his album you come to the realization that Cudi may have had a seriously large influence on the likes of "Welcome to heartbreak", "RoboCop" and "Paranoid". The songs easily could've been his. And he probably would have done them better than Kanye! I have to give Kanye credit for his lack of production credits on this album. Because it would've been very easy for him to have produced the bulk of the album and featured generously on it. But he instead contributes a couple of tracks (literally only 2 tracks) and only features on one, allowing Cudi to do his own thing and flourish on his own.

This album is a classic. I feel sorry for the guy having dropped an album this tight and as polished as a debut. Because he's going to have a hard time topping it. Forget The Blueprint 3. Kudi dropped THE 'rap' album that people need to be taking immediate notice of.

10 out of 10

Album highlights:
■ Soundtrack 2 my life
■ Simple as...
■ Solo Dolo
■ Heart of a Lion (Kid Cudi's theme)
■ My world
■ Day 'n nite
■ Sky might fall
■ Enter galactic (Love connection Part I)
■ Cudi zone J's fave
■ Pursuit of happiness
■ Hyyerr
■ Up, up & away


  1. Must...get....NOW!!!

    I haven't even seen this in stores, but I got to get it. It sounds like something I would absolutely love! Between listening to Peter Bjorn and John and 808 and Heartbreaks again, I'm ready for some new, conceptual, ethereal sound.

  2. No wonder I haven't seen it in stores yet, it aint out until the 15th! Doh!


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