"Man on the Moon: The End of Day" by Kid Cudi

Kid Cudi
Man on the Moon: The End of Day

Universal Records
2009

Review

When Kid Cudi's sleepy delivery is put on top of a high-energy musically dense soundscape, what results is infinitely listenable. His subject matter is well suited to brooding young stoners everywhere and he is clearly pouring his heart out. But a great singer our Kid Cudi is not so when things are slowed down we get big buckets of FAIL. But over some trippy electronic beats from Mars he excels. Thankfully that describes well over half of the album.

Let's get the obvious out of the way. Kid Cudi is not going to win American idol. Nor will he win best singer in your living room in an extended Rock Band session. Hence on the songs where his singing stands front and center he fails to make a good impression. Lyrically he's interesting enough though, waxing poetically about the stresses of being a stoner/loner. Further complicating things is that this album is a concept album. Making a good concept album seems to be a difficult enough feat to accomplish. Sure a few notable exceptions exist (Master Ace's "A Long Hot Summer" comes to mind) but I find that concept albums tend to be better at telling a story than at concocting a consistent body of quality work.

That said, I am still recommending this album. Ok, so my hard-core underground Hip-Hop heads are rolling their eyes at me. Listen, catchy is catchy and just because someone isn't a great singer doesn't mean they can't make good music nowadays (heck, Keith Sweat to me is a terrible singer and I love his music. And Madlib spun lead into gold with Dudley Perkins). In fact, with the right production it's possible for any of us to sound decent but we need to have a voice. Something to say. An audience to talk to. This is what Kid Cudi has. So yes, concept album wise the songs on that serve to advance the story (narrated by Common!) are the weakest because Cudi choose to sing his story. But listen to "Day 'N' Nite" and then try to get that song out of your head.

In fact, the best songs here have that "stay in your head for days" quality to them. Take my second favorite (after "Nite 'N' Day") song "Simple As". Catchy as all that beat with the sing-songy stuff well within the limits of the voice that are performing it. I love the reggae-tinged sound on this one has to it. Short, sweet, catchy and fantastic. As Cudi says, "It's simple as that/It's simple as that/It's simple as that for your simple ass". Exactly. When Cudi says, "I am exactly who them older rapper's kids be" - I think that sums up his approach and appeal perfectly (I mean, the "concept" here is someone getting high and having lots of trippy dreams before coming back to). Another good example is "Sky Might Fly" where in spite of a weak chorus, the song is catchy as anything.

There a couple moments seemingly inspired by the Neptunes even though Kanye West does most of the production. Check out "Enter Galactic" which is Cudi on the dance floor. This is what I'm talking about when I say his sleepy delivery oddly works perfectly with crazy uptempo dance tracks. This is probably the most hype beat on the album, and Cudi sounds like he's about to fall asleep. But it works! It really does. It's like something the N.E.R.D. would do.

It's a good thing that Kid Cudi went with a dream concept album because it matches his delivery perfectly. Throughout the album Cudi sounds like he's half asleep. Even on tracks with the ultra-hype dance beats, he sounds like he's half awake. He's like the MC-slash-singer equivelent of Big Smooth a.k.a Sam Perkins, and both probably have equally glassy (you could be forgiven for thinking they just smoked a huge bowl) eyes.

In many ways, this is a frustrating album because despite the weakness in the singing voice, from a subject matter and honesty perspective Cudi is a very interesting artist. With the right sort of musical backdrops, he kills it. But so many of the songs try to turn him into an R&B artist, and that just ain't gonna fly (peep "Pursuit of Happiness", "Alive", and "Solo Dolo" which were big buckets of FAIL for me). After hearing the "Day 'N' Nite" remix though, I'm more than ever convinced that Cudi is meant to be on high-energy tracks. Thankfully there are many to be found here.

(The last thing I want to mention is that "Make Her Say" has a Lady Gaga interpolation. This internet must be speeding things up more than I thought. A Lady Gaga interpolation? Already? How old is that song anyhow? Still, not a bad song. I like it alot more than the song that inspired the sample.)

3.400 out of 5

Track Ratings

1. In My Dreams (Cudder Anthem) (03:19) 2
2. Soundtrack 2 My Life (03:55) 4
3. Simple as... (02:31) 5
4. Solo Dolo (Nightmare) (04:26) 2
5. Heart of a Lion (Kid Cudi Theme Music) (04:21) 4
6. My World (feat. Billy Cravens) (04:03) 3
7. Day 'n' Nite (Nightmare) (03:41) 5
8. Sky Might Fall (03:40) 4
9. Enter Galactic (Love Connection, Part I) (04:20) 4
10. Alive (Nightmare) (feat. Ratatat) (04:06) 2
11. Cudi Zone (04:19) 3
12. Make Her Say (feat. Kanye West & Common) (03:36) 4
13. Pursuit of Happiness (N$ightmare) (feat. MGMT & Ratatat) (04:55) 2
14. Hyyerr (feat. Chip tha Ripper) (03:32) 3
15. Up Up & Away (03:47) 4
16. Man on the Moon (03:32)
17. T.G.I.F. (feat. Chip tha Ripper) (02:31)
18. Is There Any Love (feat. Wale) (03:31)