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The Mac Weekly

The Student News Site of Macalester College

The Mac Weekly

The Student News Site of Macalester College

The Mac Weekly

Kid Cudi's latest: The Legend of Mr. Rager

By Mark Thomson

What up? How’s everyone doing?

With these questions, Kid Cudi commences his sophomore album, “Man on the Moon II: The Legend of Mr. Rager.” The album, the follow up to 2009’s immensely popular “Man on the Moon: The End of Day,” takes a much more personal and introspective look into the 26-year-old Cudi’s life. Whereas “The End of Day” had a much broader musical sound (endearing him to hip-hop and rock fans alike), “The Legend of Mr. Rager” takes the concept of vulnerability and goes with it. It takes the best of his previous album, “Soundtrack 2 My Life and “Pursuit of Happiness” and continues along that journey. There aren’t any upbeat anthems here such as “Up, Up, and Away,” (with the lone exception maybe being “Erase Me”) but there is a richer musical sound.

Despite a very dark subject matter (and I acknowledge that “The End of Day” was dark), I found the album extremely satisfying. That’s not to say it’s without some flaws. Yes, we get that he enjoys marijuana. But his repetition borders on incessant at times. And he probably should have gotten RATATAT to produce a track or two. And several of the tracks were already leaked.

That being said, this is unlike anything I’ve ever listened to. It’s as much of an experience as an album, and I don’t say that lightly. I found myself getting goosebumps at some of the melodic hooks, his raspy voice complimenting the exceptional production. “Mr. Rager” and “All Along” stand out as two tracks in particular.

The album is divided into five acts, each act focusing on a different aspect of Cudi. The first act, “The World I Am Ruling” contains only two songs, but they’re two of my favorites. Cee-Lo is absolutely incredible on the chorus and Cudi demonstrates some of his rapping ability on “Scott Mescudi vs. The World.” This song definitely has the potential to blow up. And “REVOFEV” was my second favorite song on the entire album. (I can still hear his soulful wailing on the chorus.) Originally released as the first promotional single, “REVOFEV” one of the most unique sounds I’ve ever heard.

Act II, “A Stronger Trip”, was where the album started to take a deeper look into Cudi’s life. He raps: “Pain, hurt, sadness and loneliness, bought all that sh*t right up, tossed it away to the bottomless, Pit, the part of my mind that slips” in “Don’t Play This Song,” featuring an exceptional Mary J. Blige. I also particularly enjoyed the production of “Mojo So Dope”.

The next act, “Party On,” contains the Jim Jonsin produced “Erase Me.” This was the one song where I thought Cudi sold out. Jonsin’s discography includes chart toppers such as T.I.’s “Whatever You Like” and Lil Wayne’s “Lollipop”. Consequently, this song doesn’t really fit into the album as a whole (think of it as this album’s “Make Her Say”) but it’s still a pleasure to listen to. “Wild’n Cuz I’m Young” explores a night in the life of Mr. Rager, with Plain Pat and Emile providing a brilliantly simple beat for Cudi to rap over.

Act IV, “The Transformation”, continues the self-reflective voyage. In “MANIAC” he promises to “tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but.” And in “These Worries” he unites with Blige again to create a beautiful sound. We get deeper insights into Cudi’s life and how he takes refuge. He raps: “So much whiskey all in my liver, I really like the punch it delivers, makes me warm while I high five sinners.”

The final act, “You Live and You Learn”, ends the album strongly. I could have done without “GHOST!” but “Trapped in My Mind” really grew on me after a couple listens. And “All Along” was my favorite track on the album. According to iTunes, I’ve already listened to it 12 times and counting. The chorus, “All along, all along, I guess I’m meant to be alone”, evokes sympathy for Cudi while resonating on a deeper level personally. The song’s classic Cudi.

Cudi’s never going to be compared lyrically to a Lupe Fiasco or a J. Cole (if you don’t know the latter, immediately download his mixtape Friday Night Lights). He even acknowledges this in “Mojo So Dope”: “I live through words, not metaphors.” Yet somewhere in these minimalist lyrics, he achieves startling weakness. You wonder what truly lies in the mind of Scott Mescudi. Behind the endless drug references and melodic flows, Cudi’s music resonates vulnerability.

It’s this vulnerability that makes him so appealing of an artist. He transcends genre because of his openness. Emotion can’t be classified as hip-hop or rock, although he definitely incorporates both elements in his music. What we do see is a very flawed individual who is searching for who he is and chronicling this process through song.

Perhaps he puts it best in “Mr. Rager”: “I’m off on an adventure.” We’re just fortunate that we’re able to come along.

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