Album Remarks & Appraisals:
Highly anticipated 2009 release from the Brooklyn-based Hip Hopster. Kid Cudi released his first mixtape, A Kid Named Cudi, in July, 2008 as a free download sponsored by New York streetwear company 10 Deep, leading to an introduction and signing to Kanye West's G.O.O.D. Music imprint, and in turn, to Cudi's co-writing of four tracks on the platinum Kanye West album 808s & Heartbreak, including the Top 5 single, 'Heartless' and stepping out in a featured vocal on 'Welcome to Heartbreak.' On this album, the ingenious, spaced-out wit and sparse but addictive electronic arrangement of the single 'Day 'N' Nite' has already made the song a hit.
Man on the Moon: The End of Day is the debut album of American rapper Kid Cudi, released September 15, 2009, on GOOD Music. Aconcept album, it follows the release of his first mixtape A Kid Named Cudi (2008). Production for the album took place during 2007 to 2009 and was handled by several record producers, including Cudi, Kanye West, Emile Haynie, Plain Pat, No I.D., Dot da Genius, and Jeff Bhasker, among others.
Man on the Moon: The End of Day spawned three singles - "Day 'n' Nite", "Make Her Say" and "Pursuit of Happiness" - that attained chart success, including the former, which became a US platinum-certified hit single. To further promote the album, he toured with Asher Roth and Lady Gaga. Upon its release, Man on the Moon: The End of Day received positive reviews from most music critics, whom praised it for its music composition and different approach to being a hip-hop record. Aside from being included on music critics list of the best albums of the year, Man on the Moon: The End of Day received three Grammy Awards nominations.
The album debuted at number four on both the US Billboard 200 and Billboard Top Rap Albums chart, selling 104,000 copies in its first week of release in the United States. It later became certified gold by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), for shipments exceeding 500,000 copies in the US. Outside of the US, the album was less commercially successful, generally peaking outside of the top fifty positions of album charts.
"Indie-rap phenom - out of nowhere (Cleveland) - Kid Cudi hit the blogs and indie radar what seems like a few summers ago with the party crasher, "Day 'n' Nite," which with all its various remixes, took on a life of its own. With a single track he made his mark; Kanye West noticed and: boom. Kid Cudi clearly has his own sound, one based on minimal, electronica-inspired drum programming, and right away he wants us to know that he's different; and he is. Musically, his sensibilities to lo-fi, experimental production over glossy beats confirm as much. Lyrically he wears his heart on his sleeve, he's crying, loves mushrooms, his dad died, his mom still came through every Christmas, he has a general sense of vulnerability, and he's paranoid.
I doubt many remember A.R. Kane, who were partly responsible for "Pump Up the Volume" before making their early shoegaze classics (1988's sixty-nine and 1989's brilliant but little heard i: a futuristic collage of beats and electronics with fuzzed out guitars). Musically, I see this same dexterity in Kid Cudi; he seems to be hip-hop's answer to the confessionals of emo and the shimmering of shoegazers. Through that cloud of haze is the life of a young adventurous stoner: Kid Cudi.
The record opens with "In My Dreams (Cudder Anthem)" where he sings of his "night terrors" over a atmospheric Björk-like track. Things pick up on the confessional "Soundtrack 2 My Life" where everyday drama is so stressful that Cudi claims to "Split an eighth of shrooms just so I could see the universe." He then fuels his demons "Now I'm in the cut, alcohol in the wound/My heart's an open sore that I hope heals soon/I live in a cocoon opposite of Cancun where it is never sunny, the dark side of the moon." The dark "Solo Dolo (Nightmare)," with its plucking violin and strings, carries this "me against world" ode. Nice drum programming and piano chords make "Heart Of A Lion (Kid Cudi Theme Music)" work, and again it hits with more on his emotional struggles and lessons from his mom. "My World" is a childhood tale of loneliness, low self esteem, being too artsy, bad jobs and a mysterious male chorus is kicked in by Billy Cravens. Then there's the frenetic disco ditty "Enter Galactic" that sounds disjointed like a bad Basement Jaxx song with silly lyrics ("you and me").
Among the album's highlights are two tracks that drop with an assist from his hipster pals. The electronic duo Ratatat whose laptop beats anchor "Alive" with flourishes of scattering break beats, while on the inspirational "Pursuit of Happiness (Nightmare)" he collaborates with both MGMT & Ratatat. These are easily two of the more interesting tracks, especially "Pursuit of Happiness" with the glowing harmonies in the chorus by MGMT, and winding chords, bleeps as he declares "I'll be fine when I get it, l'll be good." On the very synth-heavy "Cudi Zone" he has a nice flow and is "feeling alright." Older tracks like the conventional "Sky Might Fall" and "Make Her Say" (which samples Lagy Gaga's "Pokerface" and features Kanye West & Common) still sound fresh; as does the breakout hit "Day 'n' Nite." Common's narration throughout, however, is irritating. "Hyyerr," featuring Chip Tha Ripper, is a triple rhyme slow jam dedicated to the joys of weed. Man On the Moon closes with the uptempo pop of "Up Up & Away" that sounds like a Black Eyed Peas demo as Kid Cudi appears to be consumed by expectations "They gone judge me anyway, so whatever!"
Man On the Moon is a very welcome shot-in-the arm album that dispels the notion that hip-hop records aren't as experimental and daring as past landmarks. While there aren't many new 3 Feet High and Risings and It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Backs being made, it's cool that a kid like Cudi can even get a record like this made. There are a few tracks are drowsy and feel like West's 808s & Heartbreak on NyQuil. When West stays out of way and lets him do him Kid Cudi wins; he gets to stay experimental and deliver hit songs. It proves that you can still break a new artist (given that they have at least one true hit like "Day 'n' Nite," and a few high profile guest appearances such as that on Jay-Z's The Blueprint 3), yet it's still Cudi's desire to create his own lane that many kids will surely follow. Divine Styler is somewhere smiling at Kid Cudi and his tight pants." - Culturebully
"Kid Cudi doesn't want you to take him seriously. On his debut album, Man On the Moon: The End of Day, he says, "I got 99 problems, and they all bitches/Wish I was Jigga, man, carefree living/But I'm not Sean or Martin Louie/I'm the Cleveland nigga rolling with them Brooklyn boys." The rest of the album, like the rapper's year-old mixtape, A Kid Named Cudi, is full of those kinds of flippant one-liners ("It's all said and done, and my cock's been sucked"), but like his Midwestern brethren the Cool Kids, who share a juvenile moniker as well as a taste for retro hip-hop, Cudi genuinely seems to just be having fun. Which made his tribute to DJ AM at last night's MTV Video Music Awards a lot more tolerable, if less entertaining, than Kanye West's already-notorious tantrum during Taylor Swift's acceptance speech for Best Female Video.
It wasn't very ambitious, but Kid Named Cudi announced one of the most promising, likeable new sounds in hip-hop. He can switch from rap to soul as easily as he can crack a joke: In his memorable tribute to marijuana, "Maui Wowie," he says he's "on a mission to get lifted like John Legend and shit." But from its bombastic title to Common's annoying narration, Man On the Moon vies for both a bigger pop platform and indie credibility.
Unfortunately, the much-ballyhooed collaboration with MGMT and Ratatat, "Pursuit of Happiness," is exactly the kind of overproduced rock-rap ballad that will no doubt invite the disdain of the Pitchfork tastemakers that Cudi has been courting. The drippy lyrics describe a stoner's inner torment, but it's hard to believe Cudi is very tormented, especially when he's toking up.
Tellingly, the best song on the album is actually an extended joke: the Kanye-produced "Make Her Say," in which both rappers and Common riff on the coded sexual messages of Lady Gaga's "Poker Face." "I make her say 'oh' when I poke her face," might be the most audaciously crude chorus of the year, but the sparse production and Cudi's dexterous rhyming are too good to ignore. As long as you don't take them too seriously." - SlantMagazine
Rolling Stone (p.96) - 3 stars out of 5 -- "The music is engrossing and Cudi's angst genuine..."
Spin (p.88) - "Scott Ramon Seguro Mescudi is a quirky, singing rapper with a nice, effortless stoner drawl....He's more concerned with melody and emotion than lyrical terror."
Entertainment Weekly (p.129) - "Cudi turns out to be that rarest of rap phenomena: a hyped upstart who really does represent a promising new phase in the genre's evolution." -- Grade: A-
Entertainment Weekly (p.102) - Included in Entertainment Weekly's 'The Best Albums of 2009' -- "Exposing his own ambitions and anxieties over trippy beats one moment, collaborating with left-fielders like indie-rock bands Ratatat and MGMT the next..."
Billboard (p.52) - "The rapper's delivery is confident in a poetic and artful way, channeled through a theatrical set of songs..."
Q (Magazine) (p.120) - 4 stars out of 5 -- "'Pursuit Of Happiness,' a psychedelic wash of piano riffs and lush harmonies courtesy of MGMT, has shades of The Flaming Lips."
Personnel: Andrew VanWyngarden, Ben Goldwasser (vocals); Alain Whyte (guitar); Larry Gold (strings); Jeff Bhasker (keyboards, background vocals).
Audio Mixer: Manny Marroquin.
Recording information: Avex Studios, Honolulu, HI; Chung King Studios, New York, NY; Jim Henson Studios, Hollywood, CA; Record Plant, Hollywood, CA; The Broski Room, New York, NY.
Director: Scott Mescudi.
Illustrator: Bill Sienkiewicz.
Kid Cudi is a fascinating rapper, claimed by the backpackers for his work with Kanye West on 808s & HEARTBREAK but equally loved by the mash-up club kids who went ape for his "Day N Nite" single, especially in its nu-disco remix from Crookers. His debut album was deep in the category of "much anticipated" as soon as it was announced, but when the promised game changer finally arrived, it became obvious that Cudi had already changed the game. With its narration from Common and a track list broken into five "acts," MAN ON THE MOON: THE END OF DAY is almost as conceptual as its name implies, kicking off with a spaced-out slow roller coated in strings while Cudi states "Welcome, you're in my dream now." What follows is Pink Floyd-styled story where the real world pain of "Soundtrack 2 My Life" mutates into sci-fi fantasies from the dark side of the moon. Along the way, brilliant samples--like a bit of OMD's esoteric album DAZZLE SHIPS--and innovative sounds from Cudi and special guests Emile, Ratatat, and MGMT slowly shuffle the listener through the man's spliff-fueled exploration of space. This first official release is a soul searcher and may require more patience than your everyday debut. Still, the chilly, complicated MAN ON THE MOON perfects the futuristic bleak-beat hip-hop Kanye purposed a year earlier, and rewards the listener with every tripped-out return.