Man On The Moon II: The Legend of Mr. Rager
04:00PM ET November 8th, 2010
Contributor: Mathis Bauchner
A Rocky Williform Company
Kid Cudi is way past the point of caring what any of us think. Perhaps he never did. With his new album, Man On The Moon II: The Legend Of Mr. Rager, he seems to have outgrown even the influence of his mentor Kanye West. Last year I reviewed Cudi’s debut effort for HHB and criticized him for being excessively gloomy. Let me tell you, things haven’t gotten any cheerier. My perception of Cudi has changed, however, and I’ve come to realize that the music he’s creating cannot be judged on the same criteria as most hip-hop.
His work transcends that or any other genre. He’s developed a style completely his own, and one that certainly didn’t remain stagnant from his first album to his second. On The Legend of Mr. Rager, Cudi moves even further away from hip-hop, opting for darker ballads and more singing than ever. Thematically, he delves even deeper into his own substance abuse. It appears the fame and fortune that Cudi’s accumulated since “Day ‘n’ Nite” shot up the charts hasn’t made things any easier for the lonely stoner.
There’s a certain point when drugs surpass recreation and become something more significant, a key component of a life style rather than an isolated activity. It seems Kid Cudi reached that point long ago, and he’s determined to tell us all about it. Marijuana, cocaine, alcohol: all of them play a key role in The Legend of Mr. Rager. Bumps to get through the day, weed to relax at night, and booze to drown it all. At times Cudi appears hell bent on reaching anhedonia, meaning a state of psychic numbness. It seems that more often then not if he’s feeling anything at all it’s pain.
But this goes beyond the whining that I felt Cudi got caught up in on his first album. There’s something deeper at work here. Tracks like “GHOST!” and “Scott Mescudi Vs. The World” go a long towards capturing the rapper’s frustrations. While Cudi is deeply personal throughout much of the album, he still maintains a universal quality that’s won him some of his biggest supporters.
Any kid who’s partied their way through the bad times can relate to Cudi. On “The Mood” he captures perfectly the anonymity of a crowded dance floor. “The young and wild take chances together / they all jump up, twist and groove / but no one talks, lost in the motherf*cking mood,” he raps. On the title track, “Mr. Rager,” he declares, “This here is dedicated to all the kids like me.”
As much Cudi defies any musical influences, there still seems to be a generation he’s looking to represent. He might not care what we think, but he still wants to be cared about. The irony of this is captured on “Don’t Play This Song,” as he sings, “Want to know what it sounds like when I’m not on drugs? Please, please don’t play this song.” But of course if you’re hearing these words you’ve already made that mistake.
The masterful Emile handles much of the album’s production. He seems one of few producers capable of crafting music that truly compliments Cudi’s unique approach. The Legend of Mr. Rager is by no means an album that bends to commercial tastes. I’d predict that even some of Cudi’s loyalist fans won’t be all that thrilled with it. But make no mistake, Cudi has crafted exactly the album he set out to make, uninfluenced, uncompromised, and for that he should be applauded. He’s an artist with a vision all his own and I, for one, am with him for the journey.