Quick Spin: Review of Kid Cudi's ‘Man on the Moon: The End of the Day

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Tuesday, September 15, 2009


Kid Cudi

Five years after his debut, Kanye West has produced surprisingly few clones. An ingenious rapper can still ride West's out-size coattails to mainstream success without worrying too much about cluttering the marketplace.

Signed to West's G.O.O.D. Music imprint, Ohio rapper Kid Cudi has ripped off his label owner's formula -- forward-thinking music meets entry-level confessional lyrics -- with such shameless aplomb that you don't know whether to grin or roll your eyes.

On the plus side, West's influence has given Cudi great taste in beats. Like West's 2008 release, "808s & Heartbreak," Cudi's debut album, "Man on the Moon," tends toward the strange, synthetic textures of electronic music.

"Solo Dolo (Nightmare)" creeps along on a sinister music box arrangement that could have been cooked up by the mad minimalists in the laboratories at Nintendo. The shuddering keyboards and sweeping strings on "CuDi Zone" sound like a dead ringer for some classic rave single whose name you can't quite place. Cudi's beats are never less than lush, often overstuffed with ear-catching detail, shaming the cheap, mechanical beats of Soulja Boy-era hip-hop.

Too bad Cudi's heart-on-sleeve poetry is so awkward you want to cringe, as if you're flipping through your junior high journal. "You don't really know about the trials of tomorrow, rather lay awake in the bed full of sorrow," he drones on "Pursuit of Happiness," typical of the unflaggingly earnest dreck Cudi leans on for content. Well-crafted as they are, the backing tracks on "Man on the Moon" can only redeem so much.

Kid Cudi performs Oct. 23 at Merriweather Post Pavilion.

-- Jess Harvell

DOWNLOAD THESE: "Day N Night," "CuDi Zone"

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