Right away, it’s easy to see something’s bothering Kid Cudi on Man On The Moon II: The Legend Of Mr. Rager. There’s the Cleveland native’s troubled slouch on the album cover, and his drab reflections throughout the recording. He’s crying for an intervention.
But just as suddenly, Cudi shrugs you off with nonchalant arrogance, and you realize that he’s OK, that the drugs he’s taking are all in a day’s work.
That’s cool, right?
Honestly, he doesn’t know.
Overall, Man On The Moon II is an irony-heavy, disoriented, and brooding project that encourages listeners to remain positive, chastises caregivers for giving a damn, and romanticizes various pharmaceutical addictions. Ultimately, the rhythms are the showcase, as Cudi’s mumbled musings and tone-deaf babbling make for an insufferable product that is best served during weed time at your supplier’s house.
Not surprisingly, the second Man On The Moon installment is much darker than its predecessor, due mostly to Cudi’s much publicized struggles with cocaine use. In June, he was arrested in Manhattan for possession of a controlled substance. Then, there was the spat with Wale, who referenced in a freestyle an altercation between Cudi and a fan. Cudi called the rhyme “simple,” and Wale quipped on Twitter about the artist’s addiction to “liquid cocaine.”
In his own sarcastic way, it sounds like Cudi is trying to atone on the quirky “Revofev,” a groggy nursery rhyme that belongs in an R-rated Sesame Street. “Wake up, things might get rough/No need to stress, keeps you down too much,” Cudi sings. The artist quickly shifts from penitence to indifference on the casual “Don’t Play This Song,” featuring Mary J. Blige, which is driven by scant drums and edgy synths. Here, Cudi and Blige sing: “People think they’re really being helpful/By telling me, ‘Please be careful,’ yeah right.” Other songs are more direct, like “Marijuana,” for instance, which finds Cudi referencing other noted weed smokers over a piano laced track that summons the musical spirit of fellow Cleveland act Bone Thugs-N-Harmony.
History shows that the best artists wear emotions on their sleeves. They often tap into bottled experiences to present brutally honest portraits of the people they see in the mirror each day. John Lennon‘s tortured early solo work is one of the best examples of such aspirations. Nowadays, Cudi collaborator Kanye West has similar goals—-though you wish he’d shut up more when he’s outside the recording studio. On Man On The Moon II, Cudi emits that same raw honesty, presenting a no-frills look into his warped temperament. But unlike other artists who bare their souls, Cudi’s still might be too fragile for public dissection.