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The Tufts Daily
Where you read it first | Saturday, May 25, 2024

Kid Cudi remakes mold, again

Kid Cudi performs at USG on Nov. 4, 2010.

On Dec. 4, Kid Cudi dropped his year-in-the-coming “Speedin’ Bullet 2 Heaven” (2015).The album was first announced as a project at the beginning of the year, and was named in March.From the outset, Cudi, born Scott Ramon Seguro Mescudi, pitched the album as a standalone piece apart from his “Man on the Moon” series, the last of which, “Man on the Moon II: The Legend of Mr. Rager,” was released in 2010. The next installment in this anthology is still a mirage on the horizon, but fans of the notoriously genre-bending musician should be content with his latest work.

While “Day ‘n’ Night” (2008) was the fuel that rocketed Cudi into the stratosphere of the music industry, it has not defined its creator in the years since its launch. His first mixtape, “A Kid Named Cudi” (2008), blended hip-hop and electronica while infusing both genres with a distinctively trippy stoner vibe.In the five studio albums Cudi has released since then, he has continued to fold more and more genres into his musical repertoire, from rock to grunge to dubstep.He has rubbed elbows with rap greats like Kanye West, who signed Cudi to his GOOD Music label, and started two of his own labels; “Speedin’ Bullet 2 Heaven” was released through his Wicked Awesome label. Effortless and surprising, the seemingly Frankenstein mashups of genres come alive with merits beyond the novelty of the odd combinations. Cudi is also a member of the rock band “2 Be Continuum,” which he founded with friend and “Day ‘n’ Night” collaborator Dot da Genius in 2010.

Meanwhile, the artist has expanded his reach beyond music. He has appeared in “How to Make it in America” (2010-2011) and the “Entourage” (2015) movie, and is a co-host of “Comedy Bang! Bang!” (2012-present). Besides appearing on the silver screen, Cudi composes music for both films and television shows.

Cudi’s uncanny ability to meld genres is perhaps less surprising given his myriad pursuits. Regardless, listeners may be caught off guard by “Speedin’ Bullet 2 Heaven,” as the new album is Cudi’s sharpest deviation from the musical themes of the previous work published under his name. Inspired by '90s indie rock music, the album is more like a compilation of alternative music; occasionally, the lyrics become a little singsong, but for the most part they are spoken rhythmically with the music. This is not a rap album; rather, it is an album of alternative music instrumentation and Cudi's signature (processed) vocalizations, this time with the hip-hop dialed down a bit and the rock turned up, woven together.

In July, Cudi tweeted that this latest creation is “100% the purest form of my artistic self,” following up with “I’ve ripped my heart out and carved it into tiny pieces of musical madness.” A month later, he dedicated the album “to everyone strugglin with mental disorder all around the world.” Returning listeners will recognize the artist’s recurring themes of mental illness, drugs and sour relationships, all infused with the faintest glimmers of optimism and hope and a healthy dollop of wit and self-deprecating awareness. Indeed, his lyrics may be more beautiful than they ever have been before.

With 26 tracks, including four demos and acoustic recordings, “Speedin’ Bullet 2 Heaven” is a mammoth album. The lo-fi opening to the album sounds like a lost, dusty recording of a speech from long ago. Deciphering the words beneath the fuzz and crackle may prove challenging for some, but it is rewarding, as the speech meanders through a discussion of life and death. Every track on the album was recorded live without ultra-precise computerized instruments, increasing the album's raw feel. Cudi manned the electric guitar and bass, with assistance on drums from Travis Barker.

“Man in the Night” is a driving punk rock track with metal undertones that lays bare its writer’s emotion in stark relief. At no point in this track should a listener question Cudi’s punk chops, as his delivery is honest and believable. “Man in the Night” gives listeners their first dose of Cudi’s trademark humor as, in keeping with the ‘90s inspiration, he enlists Mike Judge to reprise his role as Beavis and Butt-Head in an original skit satirizing punk music with the usual stereotypical jabs.

There is no doubt that listeners looking for another banger like “Day ‘n’ Night” will be disappointed by this album, but this album is not for those listeners. This is an album for the fans who listen to Cudi for his words and are willing to let the artist take them on musical adventures. A close listen to the whole album may feel like an emotional workout -- exhausting and trying. However, if this is where Cudi is now in his musical career, fans should be more excited than ever for what the man will do next -- perhaps “Man on the Moon III.”


Summary Even while totally changing his musical style, Kid Cudi remains true to what makes his music resonate with fans on "Speedin' Bullet 2 Heaven."
4 Stars