Kid Cudi’s sophomore effort, Man on the Moon II: The Legend of Mr. Rager plays like a hip-hop version of In Utero – an artist gets big and decides that he doesn’t like what he’s seen. Since the release of Man on the Moon last year, Cudi developed a coke habit, eventually getting arrested this past summer.
There is no boasting about how great Cudi’s life was a coke-head (even though much of the album sounds like a hip-hop version of Dark Side of the Moon, especially Marijuana which has a Gilmour-like solo throughout). Cudi not only loves the darkness, he “wants to marry it.” “It is my cloak. It is my shield. It is my cape,” He declares in “Maniac” a haunting track featuring indie singer Saint Vincent. Elsewhere, “Wild’n Cuz I’m Young” sounds like it was recorded in a dark basement or underground. If this is what Cudi meant by marrying the darkness, he found it in this song. Unfortunately, what would have other-wise been an album highlight is marred by the use of Autotune. “Marijuana”
“Erase Me” finds Cudi taking on arena rock – it’s even got a softer verse and loud chorus which proves that Cudi seems to have a a better understanding of a rock song than Lil Wayne. Interestingly on the song where he actually does sing, he ditches the Autotune. The only problem with the song, is the inclusion of the usually reliable Kanye West, who seems sapped of his energy and his muse on his verse.
Some reviews have stated that this album is over indulgent but the blend of spaced-out rock and hip-hop elevates Man on the Moon II above Cudi’s indulgences and self-loathing. But the main flaw of the album isn’t Cudi using the album as catharsis, it’s that it doesn’t seem convincing. Cudi seems to like the darkness too much or is stoned too much to really break out and exorcise his demons. If only his delivery matched the music and the lyrics, Man on the Moon II could be hip-hop’s version of In Utero or Plastic Ono Band. As it is though, it’s an impressive effort from an emerging artist.