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Analogy: Just imagine Kid Cudi singing all of Travis Scott features
For a long time Kid Cudi never thought another Man On the Moon album would come out, but here we are 10 years later and Kid Cudi has put out the 3rd installment of Man On the Moon. As a listener I wouldn’t get too hung up on the album title even though it can be nostalgic.
What was once a unique and forward pushing sound for Hip-Hop has now become the norm and Man On the Moon III feels way passed its prime. Kid Cudi paved the way for trippy genre clashing sounds in the main stream and the sounds that he tries to pull off on this new record are now being used everyday, by the likes of Travis Scott, Young Thug, Lil Uzi Vert etc.
Immediately, on the intro track “Beautiful Trip” Cudi wants to bring the listener back to their nostalgic feelings with chords found on his old song “Scott Mescudi vs. The World”. This short intro completely evaporates and leads us into the next track “Tequila Shots”. We do see Kid Cudi coming with a sense of clarity knowing the tragic state he’s heading down. Of course the production comes with the spacey synths that Cudi loves. So far not off to a bad start.
On the song “Another Day” Cudi is working with his deeper voice here and for some reason that paired with the effects used create an overly muddy sound. We get more lyrics about heading down this dark path and about how things haven’t changed so much for him between drinking and drugs.
Next, the song “She Knows This”. If you would’ve told me Travis Scott is featured I would believe you. The ad-libs on this track feel so identical to what Travis does its annoying. Production heavy song in terms that production is the only good part. Chorus fails to give off any lyrical substance or vibe.
One of the shorter tracks comes next with “Dive”. I thought we were moving towards an actual concept on this song but we never get there. It feels like a half baked idea that was just thrown in.
AGAIN! On the song “Damaged” how is this not a Travis Scott song!!! The hypey ass synthesized ad-libs, slowed down chorus, sped up verse, trippy beat. It’s been done before.
“Heaven On Earth” gives me a somewhat nice moment to collect my thoughts. The twinkling production feels like looking into heaven. Cudi continues to talk about falling down this hole, but, its not bottomless its stagnant, we’re not moving anywhere. It’s a pointless envision or motion and this is how the song plays out.
Another nice break up from mundane tones on Man On the Moon III so far is “Show Out”. We get a Pop Smoke and Skepta feature and they completely take over. Pop Smoke’s voice will always stand out on the track and cut through with that grit and Skepta pairs well with this. My issue comes, again, with Cudi. His moment feels so removed from the initial tone of the track his verse is damn near pointless besides it being his album.
I do feel that Kid Cudi does start to gain some sense of song writing moving forward, but, we’re still on shaky grounds. “Mr. Solo Dolo III” does go over the topic of how Cudi dealt with taking substances without people knowing and living this secret life. I wish we were able to feel a bit more of Cudi’s emotion behind this song.
“Sad People” comes with Cudi being introspective and asking himself questions. Although, it does feel like he is living in a mediocre range for melodies to this point. Starting to slightly break out the Hip-Hop production we get “Elsie’s Baby Boy (flashback)”. I do enjoy the guitar instrumental paired with Cudi starting to reflect back on his childhood. The concept is nice but the execution is not great. The chorus on this track revolves around Cudi being bored in Cleveland, Ohio during the winter. Not sure what he wanted us to take away from that. Ohio winters suck I guess. A switch in production towards the end is a kind of beautiful moment except it feels so out of place in the album.
Interestingly enough FINNEAS (Billie Eilish’s brother) production shows up again on this album with the song “Sept. 16”. Kind of a corny love song with hook using the lyrics of
Life goes by
Search for your love wherever it be
Life goes by
I need your love all over me
Coming down the final stretch of Man On the Moon III my favorite track “Lovin’ Me” featuring Phoebe Bridgers. It’s a nice moment on this album where the concept, tone, and lyrics finally came together to create something cohesive as simple as it may be. It feels like one of the more uplifting moments and Cudi’s voice paired with Bridger’s voice is a great combination.
There’s just not much more this album offers up towards the end. “The Pale Moonlight” Cudi seems to be finally seeing how his actions actually look in reality. Beat was nice and punchy but not much else going for it. “Rockstar Knights” features Trippie Redd which I actually enjoyed his verse. It’s a song trying to make it on the charts and that is what it is. Features some glossy sounding synth chords that pop up at a few points.
“4 da Kidz” has inspirational lyrics with a faster paced delivery on the verses. But, the chorus uses the same voice effect that has been used throughout the entire album up to this point and is wearing thin. The song “Lord I Know” closes us out on this album with electronic sounds leading the production. It actually is a sweet spot where Cudi seems to finally be taking control of his life and that alone is a good ending.
To wrap up this review, a voice ends Man On the Moon III with he words “To Be Continued”. Honestly, I don’t need more from the trilogy of Man On the Moon. I think its had a great run and Cudi has pushed this narrative as far as it can go, but, the sounds here are no longer unique or progressive. I do think Kid Cudi has a voice again, I just hope to see it move in the right direction.