Universal Republic Records
There have been a lot of mixed reviews surrounding Kid Cudi‘s third album, Indicud. It certainly helps if you are a fan and you don’t consistently compare his older work to everything else as a litmus test. The main reason you will like this album is its lack of need to be put into a thematic box to be relatable. It’s not strictly stoner Hip-Hop or emo Hip-Hop. The lyrics combined with the beats make for a project that stands apart from anything that’s been released in recent memory. Sonically, Kid Cudi has created a blend of The Doors and Kanye’s full orchestra arrangements, with some crushed barbiturates sprinkled on top. Add to that the fact that Kid Cudi portrays himself as a socially awkward pariah in the industry and boom, you have the perfect fodder for kids around the world who feel like no one else will be their friend but Scott Mescudi.
The best way I can describe the production that Kid Cudi had laid down is that if you
take a bunch of drugs listen to just the instrumentals and stare at the album artwork long enough, they’ll put in you a mental state where you’ll swear on your father’s son’s name that it’s actually a GIF. The second best way I can describe it is it reminds me of grey silly putty-a cloudy kind of temperamental. A majority of the beats can match more than one mood, depending on what transpired in your life five minutes prior to listening. “Unfuckwittable” can help you unwind in the evening as you make yourself a well deserved Old Fashioned after taking a bunch of bullsh*t from your boss, which you replied with sticking it to him at the end of the shift. But the pitch distortion to the bass synth is also enough to bring out your inner demons and provoke you to knock someone in the teeth at a bar after blacking out.
There are a couple tracks where Cudi take the backseat on the mic. As much as he flaunts his confidence, he realizes some landscapes he paints with the boards are better suited for other artists. The beat on “Red Eye” sounds like what you would get if you asked Cudi to create a more pop tinged sound that Nelly Furtado would feel comfortable rapping over. “Beez” is clearly Cudder’s attempt to pay homage to the Killer Beez aka Wu-Tang Clan which may have turned out better if RZA penned higher octane verses.
And then you have a oil-water mixed beat like that on “Afterwards (Bring Yo Friends)*.” The only setting I could picture this track being played in its entirety, aptly, would be at a high school math club dance party. Of course it would be right after the team returned from an away tournament and all the kids would want to do is dance. It would be perfect for our future MIT graduates, and anyone else who wouldn’t be okay with doing the chicken noodle soup on the dance floor in front of others, to feel bada$$ for a 9 minute getaway.
Now onto the words. Kid Cudi was never the most poetic or clever with the wordplay. But he’s always been straightforward and honest with the sentiments, incorporating unique flows that make up for the average lyrical caliber. “Young Lady” is a prime example of a rhyme scheme where Kid Cudi starts a line taking his time, spacing out the syllables, but then he rhymes two words consecutively and goes double time for the second half of the line. It’s hypnotically euphonious.
A large part of his lyrics are aimed right at his haters, but King Wizard aka Cudi is seated smugly now on his throne above the criticism. He’s moved onto filling his spare time with “pretty girls everywhere [he] goes,” (“Girls”). On “Cold Blooded,” he even addresses the remark buzzing around that he’s only good for hooks. I’m partially guilty of this claim but I qualify it to him being exceptionally good at hooks, with spots of brilliance in verses. Two examples of said brilliance come on his verse on “Just What I Am” and one line on “Cold Blooded,” when he spits, “Standing in a monsoon of cool, karma is my armor/ Was only scared of my father, beyond that I’m cold.” It’s an admirable balance of the confidence he’s displayed throughout the album and piety and humility. Cudi’s verse on “Just What I Am” puts him in a vulnerable position, revealing his rash temper and spending habits. But he also recognizes the fault in his ways while others have it tougher and that he’s a creation of God, so there’s some beauty in his oddness.
Indicud is a deep journey into how Scott Mescudi has felt for what probably stretched beyond his last album. The album doesn’t actually feel as long as it really is all thanks to the fact that you can get easily lost in these unfamiliar beats, for the most part. And stop complaining potheads, you can smoke to this album. Just smoke more.
*Michael Bolton wins most left field feature on a Hip-Hop record.