The music world watched Kid Cudi burst onto the scene with his key contributions to Kanye West’s landmark album, 808’s & Heartbreak. There, he helped co-write four songs that not only shaped the album’s direction, but also the style of music that would be heard in hip hop and R&B for years to come. The songs were “Heartless,” “Robocop,” “Paranoid,” and “Welcome to Heartbreak,” which featured Cudi singing on the chorus. Although West signed Cudi due to the overwhelming success of Cudi’s 2008 mix tape A Kid Named Cudi, it was Cudi’s writing skills on 808’s that initially propelled Cudi to cult-like status and laid the foundation for his popularity for the next few years. Cudi’s first two albums, Man on the Moon and Man on the Moon 2, were well received commercially and fan-wise.
But for his next endeavor, Cudi decided to collaborate with frequent production partner Dot Da Genius to form a rock band called WZRD, and they released an eponymous album in 2012. Although some fans admit they found a few songs from the album enjoyable, they didn’t support the album like they did his previous projects. Cudi would release three more albums from 2013-2015; Indicud, which marked a return to his first two albums sound; Satellite Flight: The Journey to Mother Moon, a semi-instrumental, alternative hip hop album; and Speedin’ Bullet 2 Heaven, a return to rock. Cudi felt the wrath of core fans who felt Cudi was turning his back on them and was releasing uninspired music. Luckily for fans, Cudi delivered on his sixth album Passion, Pain & Demon Slaying. Cudi returned to the melodic rap that made him beloved by many hip hop fans on songs such as “Surfin,” “By Design” which features Andre 3000, and “Illusions.” Below are excerpts from publications that reviewed Cudi’s album.
Via All Music
“Running at one and a half hours, Passion is long and occasionally drags. Although split into four digestible ‘Acts,’ it tests the limits of the casual listener’s patience. Fans should be pleased, however, by the wealth of new material. ‘Tuned,’ the album’s first act, is one of the better portions, blending ’90s trip-hop with a concoction of Kanye‘s 808s and Trent Reznor‘s Ghosts soundscapes.”
“As usual with his music, Passion‘s best moments come from its production. Cudi brought back his career-launching accomplice Plain Pat, and recruited Kanye soothsayer Mike Dean, which lends cohesion and focus to the record. Regardless of its dull content, ‘Frequency’ sounds vibrant, thanks to an instrumental that marries the ambition of Man on the Moon with the spacey calmness of Satellite Flight.”
Via XXL Magazine
“One noticeable factor is that he seems more confident than he’s been since those early years of his career. On ‘Does It,’ he calls out his critics with lines like ‘Uh, doing music, TV and music, sitting on the floors we ain’t heard of/And the media wanna act like I ain’t out here, I’m out here.’ On the final track ‘Surfin’,’ Cudi says he ‘Ain’t ridin’ no waves/Too busy making my own waves, baby.'”
Kid Cudi isn’t getting critically acclaimed reviews such as the likes of Frank Ocean, Kanye West pre-The Life of Pablo, and Kendrick Lamar, but the critics are appreciative that Cudi returned to the form that helped propel his career. The next question is, where does Cudi go from here? Despite the acclaim from critics and fans, Cudi’s album didn’t sell as well as many would have hoped. Cudi’s sixth solo album only sold 50k units; half of that came from equivalence album sales (streaming) and the other half from traditional album sales. Could this mean the damage of Cudi taking artistic risks has already been done with his core fan base? Only time will tell. But what can be reported is that Cudi went back to the style that made him beloved by so many. And that, to the core fans who listened, is good enough.
[Featured Image by Jeff Lombardo/Invision/AP Images]