When you’re working with samples, loops and hooks you run a fine line. On one hand, a repeating hook serves a lot of purpose. It’s something simple, but catchy enough to keep you entertained. But working with a looping hook is a double-edged sword – if you let it run on for too long, eventually you begin to cross the threshold from being catchy into being monotonous. “Man On the Moon II: The Legend of Mr. Rager” is a prime example of what happens when you let your hooks take up too much of the heavy lifting: You inevitably end up with a droning, soulless, boring product.
The majority of “Man On the Moon II” feels dead, almost. It’s as though Kid Cudi was too focussed on making a “dark” album. Because of that, “Man On the Moon II” feels far too subdued for its own good. You’ll find that each song has a solid infrastructure under it, coming out of the gate strong but falling on its face by the half way point. The hooks are relentless and well produced, but the issue lies with the fact that most of the songs run on too long with the hooks not really doing anything. At all. You can’t make a good sample and then leave it running for the song’s 5 minute run time. No one is going to take that kind of shit no matter how well produced it is.
I admit, though, there were parts of this album that did get me in a big way. “Man On the Moon II” picks up near the end, the only issue is that it’s in the last three songs. “All along” is one of the most heartfelt, and real songs that’s come from Cudi. It painted a picture of the seemingly depressed Kid Cudi and what he’s been going through for the past few years. For whatever reason, I connected to him and managed to play it on repeat for hours on end. To this day I’ve played it about 34 times. Take that for what you will. There are a few more highlights that appear in the middle of the album too, actually. “Erase me,” Cudi’s attempt at fusing alt-rock and rap, turned out more successfully than you’d think, with a great verse delivered by Kanye near the end.
I think you can commend Kid Cudi’s attempt at mixing and matching elements from different genres together. Out of all of the people doing hip hop today, Kid Cudi is at least trying to be inventive. And he turns out achieving that a few times in “Man On the Moon II.” So, maybe all of these missteps are because he tried his hand at experimenting. Which is somewhat forgivable.
But that still doesn’t make up for the second half of the album, the second act. You’ll find that the whole section is dedicated to marijuana. It’s at this part of the album where the whole thing dips downwards. These songs are the most low-key of the album which doesn’t highlight Cudi’s talents. Cudi shines most when he’s making vibrant, fun songs. When he tries to be “serious,” the music tends to drag. Which, again, is the biggest issue with this whole thing. I found myself bored while going through these songs, even at points having to force myself to actually finish the track.
Kid Cudi has good ideas but when it comes to putting them together, he ends up failing. “Man On the Moon II: The Legend of Mr. Rager” had the potential to be a strong, genre busting epic. It has a few songs on here that everyone should listen to, just to see what the guy is capable of, but the majority of the product is forgettable.
Maybe next time Scott.
Why: Good ideas are fine, but they’re just that: Ideas. Sometimes reality doesn’t always correlate with what we originally envisioned, which is kind of what happened here.