On July 20, 1969 the US landed on the moon. In 2010, hip-hop artist Kid Cudi tries to take us back, but ends up landing on the dark side of the moon and unfortunately for him, Pink Floyd isn’t there to back him up. Man On The Moon II: The Legend of Mr. Rager (MOTM2) is Cudi’s second full-length album and despite his best intentions, he ends up a victim of the music industry’s dreaded sophomore slump.
The album’s title is actually pretty descriptive. Cudi sounds like a man on the moon, a man who doesn’t have enough oxygen, fatigued, and out of breath. His flow has slowed down considerably, probably in an effort to carefully deliver his lyrics. Some might say that this has to do with what he is rapping about, but while drug induced depression and heartache are cornerstones of solid songwriting, they shouldn’t be delivered from a man who sounds like he is one verse away from falling asleep.
Another overall problem with this album is the redundant subject material.
“These Worries,” is a collaborative track with Mary J. Blige that conveys the sense of anxiety that most artists probably experience when elevated to the status of celebrity. Cudi embarks to seek consolation, not through the circle of people associated with his problem, but with a higher power. Seems like a winning formula until you realize that the whole album doesn’t deviate far from this theme.
Speaking of higher powers, drugs are a staple of the lyrical matter in MOTM2. The track “Marijuana,” is cutely timed to end at exactly four minutes and twenty seconds. Sadly that seems to be all the Cudi is able to rap about in this album. While the first Man On The Moon was a successful experiment in hip-hop theatrical story telling, the sequel fails to deliver that same sense of cohesion. The thematic acts that helped shape the first album just aren’t there.
Luckily the whole album isn’t a complete loss. There are a few stand out tracks, such as “Revofev,” “Mojo So Dope,” and “Erase Me.”
While Cudi seems to be in need of lyrical refreshment, he can still craft some sick beats. I’m still impressed by his ability to blend a variety of instruments, like old-school drum machines, echoing laugh tracks, and tribal drums, as heard on “The Mood.” And the quick and choppy piano chords the quick and choppy piano chords in “Revofev” show why critics have a hard time categorizing Cudi into just a single genre.
In closing, I should mention that I was a fan of Cudi’s first album, but MOTM2 is marred by Cudi’s failure to channel his emotions towards something memorable. The album tips the scales of emo-rap a little too far onto the emo side. Then again, every artist has his or her up and downs. Let’s just hope Cudi tries a Four Loko for his next drug of choice, maybe then he’ll sound excited on his next record.