After a tumultuous/mixed reception to his rock-inspired WRZD album (I thought it had some pretty decent tracks but nothing too spectacular), Cleveland’s own Kid Cudi knew that if he wanted to be taken more seriously as an artist he would have to return to his roots in hip-hop, given that his rap-sing-song aesthetic is what initially caught the attention of Kanye West, his G.O.O.D. Music cohorts, and hip-hop audiences after the release of his stellar 2009 mixtape A Kid Named Cudi. Last year, Cudi stated on his Twitter that this album was to be similar to Dr. Dre’s 2001, where Cudi would produce the whole album and make songs with a variety of guest features. The album boasts a wide array of guest features that include Michael Bolton, Too $hort, and recent hip-hop golden child A$AP Rocky. Cudi kept true on this promise about in-house production as Indicud is landscaped with production that includes very moody 808 drums (a la Kanye West’s 808’s & Heartbreak), simple guitar riffs, wide-ranging synthesizers, and movie sound-bites. The beats are very minimal as they are scaled back a substantial amount from Kid Cudi’s previous work with the Man on the Moon series which included production from Mr. West, Plain Pat, and Emile. Amid his many tweets over the past year that boast that this album will musically surpass any album recently released, Cudi has tweeted on multiple occasions that his production on Indicud is foreshadowing his movement into movie scoring. Keeping up with past album themes, Indicud’s content stays true to what we have come to expect from Cudder which is sorrow-filled lyrics about continuing battles with inner-demons, drugs, fame, and sour relationships with loved ones and friends.
My new album is entitled “indicud”, it will be my version of The Chronic 2001, some songs ill produce, others ill feat &/or play songwriter
— Scott Mescudi (@ducidni) June 5, 2012
“The Resurrection of Scott Mescudi” starts the album by offering a dark, villainous vibe that will be present throughout the bulk of Indicud. This track, “New York Rage Fest”, and “The Flight of the Moon Man” are instrumentals that give insight to his supposed career change into movie scoring, most likely horror movies. “Unfuckwittable” is one of the less-appealing tracks to appear on the album due to the very-drawn out guitar riff and repetitive, reaching vocals which will make you feel as if it was a leftover song from the WRZD sessions. The songs that follow are what make the album feel like Cudi has returned to signature form as he offers a surplus of his legendary ad-libs, massive soul-bearing choruses, and spaced-out production. “Just What I Am” was released in October as an album teaser to add anticipation to the project, the song features a stand-out verse by Cudi protégé King Chip (formerly Chip the Ripper) and lyrics of depression-induced struggle that are highlighted by a highly-layered chorus of ad-libs and distortion. Hopefully this verse by Chip will upstart his career and help him gain a substantial following as he has had trouble gaining traction on his previous solo efforts. Signature Cudi is evident more than ever on “King Wizard” and “Immortal” but the growth is projected in his lyricism as his bars have gotten significantly better since his debut album. These songs will without a doubt be the most memorable off the album due to the velvet-smooth production and drawn-out chorus which enhance the listening experience.
“Mr. Solo Dolo Part II” features Cudi as his comedic best as he boasts numerous claims about the different influences his music has had while combating over-bearing haters which has been a staple of his since he dropped A Kid Named Cudi. Kendrick Lamar, 2013’s rap savior, brings his best tongue-twisting verse, the signature style that has been nationally-spotlighted since the drop of good kid, m.A.A.d city. Even though a Kendrick Lamar-Kid Cudi collaboration would seemingly be remarkable, the song slightly gets lost in the shuffle of the album as Kendrick’s heavily-constructed style doesn’t really match up with the simplicity of the beat. The bass-heavy “Girls” is by far the most commercially-appealing song offered on Indicud, although a third verse by Cudi would have been preferable over the struggle-ridden verse by Bay Area legend Too $hort. The song is in line with “King Wizard” and “Immortal” as you definitely won’t be able to listen once because it is so catchy that you will have run it back a couple times and even then you will have stuck in your head for days on end. Rock-influences are shown on “Young Lady” and “Red Eye”, “Red Eye” is actually one of my personal favorite songs on the album. Haim and Cudi go back and forth on the chorus about losing sanity but the beauty of the production is what makes the song really amazing. It is actually has touches of country and indie-pop in the production and Haim’s vocals greatly compliment Cudi’s grunge-influenced voice. For some reason the song makes me feel as if I should pick up an acoustic guitar and make a love song about faulty women but that’s besides the point. Vintage Cudi is exposed and put on display on “Mad Solar”, the song is in-vein of “All Along”, “Mr. Rager”, and “Solo Dolo”, and it is arguably the darkest track on the album as it follows the space-theme that we have come to cherish from Cudi. Cudi sounds as if he was on an acid-trip while making the song judging by his spaced-out ad-libs and commentary.
after indicud is released I’m focusing on King Chips debut, scoring, and then the moment uve all been waiting for…MOTM3.love it
— Scott Mescudi (@ducidni) October 28, 2012
The best verses of this piece of work is offered by Wu-Tang Clan leader RZA, his grainy tales about the street, women, drugs, and spirituality is why we look to Wu-Tang Clan as the legends/gods of the rap shit. I was taken aback by RZA’s vivid street imagery because it rivaled fellow Wu-Tang Clan member Raekwon’s master-like style, it always great to see the veterans still supporting the younger generations. “Brothers” is track that may go under the radar due to its calming production but each artist (King Chip & A$AP Rocky) holds their own. The track is very reflective as it discusses friends who have become “brothers”, I personally relate to the song the most because of my very personal relationship that I have with friends. Anyone who has a circle of friends that they hold close will see that Cudi poured his soul out on the chorus and parts of his lengthy verse. Aggressive songs “Burn Baby Burn”, “Lord of the Sad and Lonely”, and “Cold Blooded” are offered for audiences to see the lyrical progression that Cudi has come upon in recent years. He had to put these tracks on the album to make sure people didn’t forget that his heart is rooted in rap and that he can still command a song with his lyrical prowess. Dark themes (drug addiction, lost love, and shape-shifting ass hoes) that are present on this trio of songs are what make Cudi the actual leaders of the misguided youth as he defends those who are perceived to be outcasts of society, rapping that no one can stop his motivation or spiritual redemption. The album rounds out with a nine-minute double-track (“Afterwards (Bring Yo Friends)”) that includes King Chip’s third feature on the album and a soulful chorus by Michael Bolton. Whenever this song comes on your iTunes I want you to picture what a studio session with Cudi and Michael Bolton would look like. Interesting, right? But no B.S., it is a great song; the inclusion of Bolton was a genius idea by Cudi because Bolton’s vocals layer gracefully with the EDM-tinged track.
In all, the eighteen-track Indicud is a great, evolutionary comeback for Cudi as it masks together two of his favorite genres, rock and hip-hop. It speaks to the crossover appeal of Cudi as he still holds his own in the hip-hop field by attracting rap heavyweights Like Lamar while still making music that touches his indie pop/rock audience with his melodies and guitar riffs. The elementary production coupled with his creative sixteen’s and plethora of guest features make for a great foundation for his melodic-based music. Off the initial listen, fans will be slightly taken aback as the album’s best tracks happen to be the singles. However, I can see this album getting better with time as many of these tracks are to be smoked/drank/acid-dropped to and withhold a certain type of mood that will translate to the audience as songs are listened to repeatedly. Judging from my listening of this album, Cudi went through a personal reawakening towards the end part of the album sessions and that this spiritual redemption will make his music progress in a more positive direction. It is still sad to see him leave G.O.O.D Music…
Favorite Songs: “Red Eye”, “Immortal”, “Girls”, “Afterwards (Bring Yo Friends)”, “Beez”, “Brothers” and “King Wizard”
1. “The Resurrection of Scott Mescudi”
3. “Just What I Am” feat. King Chip
4. “Young Lady” feat. Father John Misty
5. “King Wizard”
7. “Solo Dolo Part II” feat. Kendrick Lamar
8. “Girls” feat. Too $hort
9. “New York City Rage Fest”
10. “Red Eye” feat. Haim
11. “Mad Solar”
12. “Beez” feat. RZA
13. “Brothers” feat. King Chip & A$AP Rocky
14. “Burn Baby Burn”
15. “Lord of the Sad and Lonely”
16. “Cold Blooded”
17. “Afterwards (Bring Yo Friends)” feat. Michael Bolton & King Chip
18. “The Flight of the Moon Man”