ALBUM REVIEW: Kid Cudi - Man on the Moon II: The Legend of Mr. Rager




79 — [Rating Scale]

The album cover of Man On The Moon II depicts a glum, troubled Kid Cudi, the solemn look on his face suggesting either he's contemplating suicide or is just decidedly depressed. It's certainly been an eventful year for the Cleveland rapper since Man On The Moon: The End Of Daytopped the Billboard Charts: his daughter Vada was born in March, he was kicked off Lady Gaga's tour after a physical dispute with a fan and was arrested for criminal mischief and possession of a controlled substance, which lead him to open up to his fans about his drug addictions. In light of the emotional turmoil the self proclaimed "lonely stoner" was facing, the follow-up to End Of Day, Man On The Moon II: The Legend of Mr. Rager, is considerably darker, an account of Scott Mescudi's war with fame, drugs, despair, and himself. Musically, it's equally likable to its predecessor, providing that familiar downtempo Cudi vocalization, spaced out beats, and ample references to marijuana.

Comprised of five acts that follow Cudi's embrace and eventual defiance of celebrity-hood, Man On The Moon II finds the 26 year old at his most honest and creative. “Scott Mescudi vs The World,” Cudi's opening statement is “What up?/How’s everyone doing?/You’re now in a world I’m ruining,” a lucid representation of his feelings towards the unwanted media attention. Alongside Mary J Blige he sings “People think they're really being helpful by telling me please be careful” on “Please Don't Play This Song.” The blues and rock influences are noticeable, particularly on the sole pop number “Erase Me” with Kanye West. “The End,” with GLC, Chip Tha Ripper and Nicole Wray, displays this unyielding brand of rap that is rare in Cudi's music. New York underground guru Cage appears on the St. Vincent sampling “Maniac,” one that stays true to “The Strangers.” Album highlight, which Cudi helped produce, “Marijuana” (running exactly four minutes, 20 secs) fashions a dreamy piano sequence with him crooning relentlessly “Pretty green bud, all in my blood.”

In an interview with Complex Magazine, Cudi spoke about battling and overcoming his addictions, and the release of Man on the Moon II. "With Mr. Rager, I kind of wanted to try something different with the writing this time. It's just me kind of telling my story, but in a different format, in a different way, just writing it in a poetic manner. I wanted to do more poetic raps, whether it's just rhymes or stuff like that or sometimes just repeating things just to get certain lines across, just to get people thinking." Cudi certainly paints visual scenery with his mic, leading us through fantasy worlds on “Mr. Rager,” admonishing his nightmares and fears on “GHOST!” The final act of Mr. Rager, “You Live & You Learn” suggests that this is a closing chapter in his life, that Scott Mescudi wants to persevere through the drugs, loneliness and alcohol. He's discussed some personal and difficult issues on Mr. Rager, all with the interest of being brutally honest with his fans.

Act I: The World I Am Ruling
1. “Scott Mescudi vs. The World” (feat. Cee Lo Green)
Act II: A Stronger Trip
3. “Don’t Play This Song” (feat. Mary J. Blige)
4. “We Aite (Wake Your Mind Up)”
5. “Marijuana”
6. “Mojo So Dope”
Act III: Party On
7. “Ashin’ Kusher”
8. “Erase Me” (feat. Kanye West?)
9. “Wild’n Cuz I’m Young”
10. “The Mood”
Act IV: The Transformation
11. “MANIAC” (feat. Cage and St. Vincent?)
12. “Mr. Rager”
13. “These Worries” (feat. Mary J. Blige?)
14. “The End” (feat. GLC, Chip Tha Ripper, and Nicole Wray?)
Act V: You Live & You Learn
15. “All Along”
16. “GHOST!”
17. “Trapped in My Mind”