New York's rapper Scott "Kid Cudi" Mescudi debuted with the
mixtape A Kid Named Cudi (2008) and with
the single Day 'n' Nite (2008).
His albums merged hip-hop with electroclash and rock music to discuss
his drug-induced depression. They were weak
on the rapping and stronger on the arrangements.
Man on the Moon - The End of Day (2009), divided into five acts, and
largely arranged by Jeff Bhasker, Plain Pat and Larry Gold
(the crew of Kanye West's 808s & Heartbreak),
excels in the soul-rap hybrid of Soundtrack 2 My Life and My World.
In My Dreams sounds like
a psychedelic cover of a sleepy orchestral Burt Bacharach pop ballad.
Make Her Say (with Kanye West and Common) is a disappointment while
the catchy and vaguely exotic Pursuit of Hapiness is an eccentric
case of neosoul.
From the rapping point of view, the notable characteristic is that Kid Cudi
maintains a melancholy and almost funereal mood, in sharp contrast with the
criminal bravado of most rappers.
The follow-up, Man on the Moon II - The Legend of Mr Rager (2010),
also in five acts, opens with the
bouncing sinister rigmarole of Scott Mescudi vs The World, which
seems to introduce a musichall show. There is more variety, from the
clownish strings of RevOfEv to the clumsy rock-rap of Marijuana (replete with closing guitar solo), from the grim
power-pop of Erase Me (replete with loud guitar riff)
to the rapping dressed with Afro-soul of Ashin' Kusher.
Not much of a rapper, Kid Cudi invested in the construction and arrangements
of his songs:
the tribal drumming and exotic demonic vocals (with Mary J Blige) of These Worries obliterate the rap of the beginning.
instrumental menacing industrial clockwork of The Resurrection Of Scott Mescudi
balanced by the mellow synth instrumental New York City Rage Fest
horribly warped rap-rock of Unfuckwittable
claustrophobic sound booming drums, crunchy rock guitar and eerie backing vocals in pseudo-gospel mode Young Lady feat Father John Misty
then he begins to rap in a more conventional manner
pop song Immortal dense arrangement that includes a propulsive accordion effect and
conventional danceable pop for Shakira-esque female vocalists (the Haim sisters) Red Eye
The rapping is really secondary, but at least in Burn Bay Burn and Lord of the Sad and Lonely it does a decent job.
Satellite Flight - The Journey to Mother Moon (2014) was just sloppy
Meanwhile he also tried to market himself to the rock audience with a
rock band, documented on WZRD (2012), and
a "rock" album, Speedin' Bullet 2 Heaven (2015).
The sprawling Passion, Pain & Demon Slayin' (2016), released after a well-advertised mental breakdown and rehabilitation,
is sprinkled with elements of trip-hop and acid-rock. The effect is to weaken
both singing and rapping, with the result of emphasizing the psychological
core of numbers such as Frequency and Rose Golden.
On the other hand,
Jamaican rhythm, trumpet fanfare and Pharrell Williams rap make Surfin'
the perfect party animal.
Alas, at least half of the album is disposable. This should have been an EP
of four or five songs, not an 80-minute album.
Kids See Ghosts (2018) was a collaboration with Kanye West on which
both sound tired and unfocused.