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Kid Cudi: "Man On The Moon III" Review - Michael Barnes

As promised earlier this year on “The Adventures of Moon Man & Slim”, the trilogy has continued. Kid Cudi has returned with the third installment in the “Man on the Moon” trilogy, titled “The Chosen”. To many people of my age, this is a big deal. Cudi rose to stardom with “Man on the Moon” as I entered middle school, “Pursuit of Happiness”, “Cudi Zone”, and “Up up & Away” were all go-tos during those formative years, I am certainly not alone in this experience, he is one of those generation-defining artists and, needless to say, means alot to myself and many others. He followed that debut album with an equally impactful sequel. Following those two releases, Cudi’s music took a pretty objective turn for the worse. “Speedin’ Bullet 2 Heaven”, and “Passion Pain and Demon Slayin’” left me completely scratching my head, not because they were sonically different, but because there was such a clear dip in quality. Additionally, and likely not unrelated, Cudi went through some pretty significant and public battles with his mental health. After leaving the spotlight for a few years, he returned with Kanye West to deliver an absolute magnum opus for both of their careers, Kids See Ghosts. Kids See Ghosts was a huge moment for both Kanye and Cudi, but for Cudi it was a clear revitalization, a cathartic release that asserted he was back. More importantly, he has seemed much happier and calmer over the past few years and continues to promote dialogue on his struggles and the broader stigmas surrounding mental health. This coupled with the fact that the few singles he has released this year have been awesome made me very optimistic that “Man on the Moon 3” would be a return to form for Cudi from a solo project perspective. 

 

I can say with certainty that this is a good album. There is a balanced mix between classic sounds that we have come to expect from Cudi and him applying his psychedelic touch to the modernized and popular sounds in hip hop. The album opens on a high note with “Tequila shots”, a banger in which Cudi dips his toes into a trap sound that is present on tracks throughout the runtime. Shortly after comes another highlight: “She Knows This”, which samples “Scott Pilgrim vs The World”, I love pretty much anything with production as creative as this, but this song also is one of the strongest lyrically and features a ridiculous beat switch about 2 minutes in, definitely one of my favorites. Up to track 5, I have few gripes with this thing, but starting with “Damaged” the album hits a lull of 5 or 6 really boring tracks in a row. The middle of the album in bland and Cudi refrains from flexing his vocal prowess at all throughout this section. It should also be added that track 8, “Show Out” should not be on this album, with features from Pop Smoke (posthumous) and British rapper Skepta, this is a complete interruption from any continuity sonically and thematically that the album had up to this point, it seems completely rushed and thrown together and I fail to see how it fits on this album at all. 

 

Luckily, the tail end of this album makes the whole listen worth it. “The Void”, “Lovin’ Me”, and “4 Da Kidz” are some of Cudi’s best songs to date, and are the most notable examples of his vulnerability and emotion that have become a trademark of his music over the past decade. I would be remiss if I did not mention the amazing Phoebe Bridgers feature on “Lovin’ Me”, which came about through an impromptu Twitter interaction. These two complement each other perfectly, it’s a match I didn’t know I needed but now I’m in desperate need of more from them. 

 

Thematically, this album covers quite a bit of ground. It ranges from braggadocious bangers, to reflections of his lowest times, to fearful songs about entering those states again, to hopeful melodies of better days ahead. The wide variety of what we get on this album mirrors the intense shifts in mental health that Cudi has suffered from over the decade, but reflecting on himself in this manner is undoubtedly a sign that he is becoming more and more comfortable and in control of his mental health. This album certainly is a long overdue return to form; Cudi was able to put together something here that connected with me unlike anything from him since 2010. 

 

- Michael Barnes 

Rating: 6.5/10 

Fav Songs: Tequila Shots, She Knows This, The Void, Lovin’ Me, 4 Da Kidz

 

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