KiD CuDi - Man On The Moon: The End of Day

Music will always be compared to other artforms.  It is only fair.  Music, like cinema and literature alike, paints the picture of the human existence on canvas available to the masses.  That being said, only a select few emcees are able to put out albums that are truly cinematic.  Classic albums like Raekwon's Only Built For Cuban Linx and Jay-Z's Reasonable Doubt reflect the tales of The Godfather and Scarface.  If Raekwon reflects the works of Coppola and Jay-Z reflects those of De Palma, horrorcore groups like Army of the Pharaohs and Wu-Tang Clan represent the dark humor works of Tarantino and conscious artists Mos Def and Talib Kweli represent the works of Spike Lee.

Cleveland Emcee/Singer KiD CuDi reflects something entirely different.  CuDi's debut album Man On The Moon: The End Of Day takes us on a journey that reflects that of Stanley Kubrick's 2001: A Space Odyssey.  Like Kubrick's seminal work, Man On The Moon, is split into separate acts and relies less on words (something unique for a hip hop album) and more on the production (or background music in Kubrick's case) to depict the epic journey of a human being through time and space.

From the intro track, appropriately titled "In My Dreams," we are  that we are now perceiving the artist's dreams and will be for the duration of the album; the lyrics on the intro are sparse and few between, backed mostly by spacey, experimental production that will mark the album.  That's not to say that CuDi's lyrics aren't top-notch, but he has an ear for when to let the production take center stage.  "In My Dreams" leads into the powerful "Soundtrack 2 My Life" (one of the gems of the album) in which we witness him confessing all of his own personal strife from his father's death, to drug use, to his difficulties with his new found fame.  Next up we have "Simple As..." in which CuDi comments on his place in hip hop, rhyming
I'll be the underdog all day long till I'm gone,
I will live through this song
At the beginning of the next act, we come across CuDi's first nightmare (of which there are four on the album).  It is on this nightmare ("Solo Dolo") as well as "Day 'N Nite," that we catch CuDi at his loneliest, darkest moments.  "Solo Dolo" is quickly followed by the powerful "Heart Of A Lion," which is marked primarily by it's upbeat chorus.  This is followed by the gloomy yet stunning "My World," (another gem of a song) depicting his difficulties coming to grips with fame and the way it has changed the way people act towards him.

The next act begins with the next nightmare (and the first single), "Day 'N Nite" in which CuDi bestows upon himself the moniker of the 'Lonely Stoner' and witnesses him set off on his intergalactic journey.  Next is the Kanye-produced "Sky Might Fall" and the strange love song (ever in the CuDi-style) "Enter Galactic (Love Connection Part 1)," a surprisingly average track, which proves to be the first misstep of the album.

This misstep is quickly remedied by the Ratatat-produced "Alive" (another of the album's gems).  Next up is "CuDi Zone," a song that displays some of his better lyrical prowess backed by the powerful Emile production.  Unfortunately this is followed directly the Kanye and Common assisted "Make Her Say," the second single of the album on which all three emcees offer some of the most atrocious verses that I've ever heard lyrically and proves to be the major misstep on an otherwise nearly flawless album.  KiD CuDi recoups his losses on the next song "Pursuit of Happiness," featuring psychedelic lyrics by MGMT and superb production by Ratatat.

The fifth and final act begins with the mellow "Hyyerr" featuring fellow Cleveland emcee Chip the Ripper, which, much like "Enter Galactic," fails to stand out on the album.  The proper version of Man On The Moon ends with the uncharacteristically upbeat "Up, Up, And Away (Wake & Bake)," in which we witness the end of our hero's voyage as he awakens from his dreams and leaves us asking questions of Dat Kid From Cleveland's next journey.

KiD CuDi's debut, much like nearly every Kubrick film, defies every standard of the genre.  Ahough there have been many experimental albums in hip hop history, the major one that comes to mind being the Beastie Boy's sophomore release Paul's Boutique, CuDi's is the first in recent years to be released on a major label (a landmark in and of itself).  It doesn't conform to the classic hip hop sound and will liekly not be as commercially successful as other acts, but it will be several years before we can fully grasp the significance of this release.  At the end of the day, Man On The Moon is a very solid debut that, though not without its flaws, is a cinematic epic that is one of the better albums of the year.  (I've included some of my favorite tracks below.)

Peace, Love, & Hip Hop,

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