Kid Cudi – Man on the Moon II: The Legend of Mr. Rager

written by: November 9, 2010
Kid Cudi Man on the Moon II 2 The Legend of Mr. Rager album artwork Release Date:


We live in the age of the hip-hop persona.

Gone are the days of the hip-hop group like A Tribe Called Qwest or the Roots, as well as the boat-dancing gangster rap of Blueprint-era Jay-Z. Instead, we have a bevy of hip-hop artists who have crafted distinct identities for themselves, even if those identities almost constantly change. Lil Wayne is an alien. T.I. is the King of the South. Kanye West is the art school college dropout. Drake is the Canadian upstart.

In one of the most pronounced and consistent examples, Kid Cudi is the spaceman of rap, the disaffected emo drunk who’s not quite sure what to do with himself.

On his second proper LP, Man on the Moon II: The Legend of Mr. Rager, Cudi completes his transformation into rap’s emo mastermind, crafting a cunning brew of spacey Drake dark-hop, emo lyrics and stoned indie pop that works almost as much as it doesn’t, which makes this quite possibly the most tonally consistent Cudi release yet.

It is not to say that Rager is Cudi’s best work. He’s never been able to live up to “Day N’ Nite,” and here he seems to realize it, but instead of crafting a set of songs attempting to reach higher ground, Cudi wallows in his own self-pity about his premature 15 minutes, spitting half-verses with hardly any wordplay and expecting the beats to help him out.  At a painfully long 17 tracks with nary a skit to break up the album, Rager is a struggle to get through once it hits track 12.

The lion’s share of the production goes to Emile who, just like on The End of the Day, is the real power behind Cudi’s throne. His arena music “We Aite (Wake Your Mind Up)” is sadly not given a full 3:30 minutes, even if it’s the best beat on the record. Best of all, Emile can claim no association to “REVOFEV,” the disgrace of a first single that Cudi beats half to death with tried “woah woahs” before gracefully ending and transferring into some more pot-rap.

Cudi doesn’t hide that he’s a drug-addled miscreant here. He makes lame jokes (“Ashin Kusher”), spends two songs telling people to shut up and let him be (“Don’t Play This Song” and “Wild’n Cuz I’m Young”), then spends the remainder of the record rehashing the fact that yes, he wears skinny jeans and yes, he gets far too high.

Thankfully, Cudi seems more at home in the music, and Rager is far less sleep-inducing than Thank Me Later. Most of the tracks have redeeming visceral qualities, and when you’re not paying attention to the inanity of a song like “Marijuana” or “All Along,” Cudi’s music serviceably occupies the space of “chillout party mix.”

Then there’s “Erase Me.” Baffling for a laundry list of reasons, namely its tinny guitar punch placed on such an otherwise subdued and bass heavy LP, Cudi’s foray into rock raises an interesting question—is it any good? It’s produced in a clumsy hip-hop meets hair metal fashion by Jim Jonsin’ to the point where it actually sounds less mixed than Wayne’s Rebirth. It’s got the laziest Kanye rap in years, something of a feat considering the white-hot hitting streak he has been on recently.  However, when that chorus ends after just one callback following Kanye’s verse, the mouse subtly wanders over to the rollback button and those drums start hitting again.

“Erase Me” isn’t as groan inducing as much of Rebirth was. On an album that cops so much from other rappers, Cudi can take solace in finally one-upping Lil Wayne.

Rager is a slight step to the side for Cudi, who was on a good lyrical run with the closing of End of the Day. He largely reverts himself to sounding like a drugged up idiot, but the beats are far more consistent and enthralling. Still, Kid Cudi’s newest album sounds a lot like his first two—alarmingly and sadly scattershot.