Kid Cudi has had an interesting transformation over the past few years. From his early days as an underground rap sensation with his A Kid Named Cudi mixtape to his mainstream explosion with Man on the Moon last year; Cudi is on a path to be the next big rock star. But is he the next big rock star? It is strange to look back and see what Cudder has become, but there are still glimmers of hope throughout his sophomore album, Man on the Moon II: The Legend of Mr. Rager, and that little bit of hope is managing to keep me on the Cudi bandwagon.
Right out of the gate it's clear that the Cudi we knew is not coming back. The lyrics in the first track on the album "Scott Mescudi Vs. The World" make it obvious that Cudi has created his own drug-induced world and is on his way to making it bigger: "You are now in the world I am ruling." It seems like Mr. Solo Dolo's wants to be the next Jimi Hendrix, and his single "Erase Me" is a clearcut example of this. The song evokes the rockstar persona that Cudi is striving for, with all the guitar riffs you could ever want from a rapper.
Life isn't all well and good for the K-I-D, though. Many of the songs on the album portray a Cudi that is often unhappy with his godlike ego and outrageous lifestyle. Tracks like "Trapped In My Mind" and "All Along" up the depressing quotient as Cudder belts out about his loneliness. The lifestyle he has created for himself seems like a mixed bag, full of ups and downs. "The Mood" is an atmospheric, synth-heavy beat laying out the sinful truth of what encapsulates Cudi when the sun goes down. As the album goes on, Cudi's new, simple direction becomes more and more clear, and he's not giving his fans a taste of the old Cudi. That ship has sailed.
On the other hand, Mr. Solo Dolo definitely hasn't changed in a few aspects. Who would have thought that he still loves that sticky green? His love affair with marijuana shows up all over his Sophomore outing. Songs like, you guessed it, "Marijuana" are romantic tales of his love for kush. The ethereal piano keys accompany Cudi for a well timed 4:20 length (well done Cudi). "Ashin' Kusher" is another one that is fairly self-explanatory; the man loves to smoke that weed until it's nothing but ash.
Several songs on the album show that Cudi still carries a bit of his old flavour. "Mr. Rager" brings back memories of Man on the Moon I, with the perfect blend of that classic electronic influence and lyrics that explain the story of Mr. Rager perfectly. He is off an adventure that doesn't seem to be stopping. "The End" is also a fantastic throwback to his early days as an actual rapper. Accompanied by Chip tha Rippa and Nicole Wray, "The End" makes for a solid hip hop treat in the middle of what is becoming less and less like traditional hip hop.
It is hard to say whether or not this album was a success. In some aspects it falls short, with Cudi's dedication to being the next big rockstar causes him to miss what people love about him, but in other aspects, the Cudder that traditional fans know and love is still there. All of this comes to together to make an album that, despite a few shortcomings, is actually fairly enjoyable. Congratulations Mr. Rager, you can continue to enjoy your sticky icky, 'cause for now you're still flyin' high.