Man on the Moon II: The Legend of Mr. Rager
We know a lot more about Kid Cudi than we did when he released his first album, last year’s Man on The Moon: End of Day. Between then and now he’s made another club hit with David Guetta in the vein of Crooker’s “Day N Nite” rework, landed a semi-starring role on an HBO show and publicly admitted to hard drug abuse. There’s a lot more to the self-proclaimed Lonely Stoner than we might have initially assumed. On Man on the Moon II: The Legend of Mr. Rager, Cudi moves on to a tangential ‘fuck you’ persona fitting the past year’s developments and revelations.
Sure there’s a lot for Cudi to be pissed about: an arrest, relationship problems, the perils of fame… accusations of being a less-than-proficient rapper. He channels this into a five act album, where he justifies his smug (“Wild’N Cuz I’m Young”), destresses (“REFOEV”) and blows out the proverbial smoke (“Don’t Play This Song” and “These Worries,” both featuring Mary J. Blige). Riding a confessional undercurrent, Mr. Rager wants to carve more mature waves but ends up kinda wiping out.
While Cudi’s unique, cavernous voice is his major point of difference, seven or eight tracks deep it starts to grate, becoming irritatingly monotonous and borderline whiny. Angsty, suffocating delivery and the emo-rap shtick force Cudi’s admittedly creative songs to become exhausting and self-indulgent. What makes this even more disappointing is that the album’s more interesting tracks, like glistening, Cee-lo featuring opener “Scott Mescudi vs. The World,” “Marijuana” and “Mojo So Dope” are up top, leaving other decent cuts like St. Vincent and Cage guester “MANIAC” and “Mr. Rager” to flounder in the wake of a 17 track album. Then you have “Erase Me,” an (I’ll say it) amateur attempt at embracing chartable pop-punk.
Other than that particular misstep, fresh production (Emile, No I.D. and Plain Pat) is a small comfort. Filtered drum patterns, neo-gospel arrangements and plaintive piano jams, along with curious and catchy enough melodies, obscure Cudi’s guttural talk-raps for a bit. And then you realize the album’s still playing and Cudi’s still mooning indiscernibly over something you’re too exasperated to care about.