Kid Cudi could coast through the rest of his career on the suburban party anthems of his 2009 album Man On The Moon: The End of Day. From this first album, tracks like “Pursuit of Happiness” and “In My Dreams (Cudder Anthem)” could strike the perfect vibe for a group gathering. That’s what it comes down to with Cudi: the vibe. Like him or not, one cannot deny that his voice soundly matches the far-off aura of his production, whether the actual content is there or not. And like him or not, one cannot claim that he’s mailing it in here when he produces and writes nearly all the tracks on the album.
For the surprise release Satellite Flight: The Journey to Mother Moon, the vibe is there-that innate Kid Cudi sound-but beyond the distinct sound, the content is somewhat lacking. Frankly, there isn’t a whole lot of content to judge from either. Of the 10 tracks on the album, four are predominantly instrumental. Therefore, if you do the math, Satellite Flight: The Journey to Mother Moon contains a whopping six tracks on which Cudi raps, and even these tracks follow the Cudi formula of long, heavy hooks and shy verses. Satellite Flight: The Journey to Mother Moon is an EP dressed as an LP. It’s dressed as a compelling bridge from his 2010 Man on the Moon II: Legend of Mr. Rager to the upcoming Man on the Moon III, set for a 2015 release. But it’s a repetitive, wobbly bridge.
It’s not that Satellite Flight is devoid of good tracks or interesting ideas-the two just don’t match. The first four tracks follow Cudi’s tried and true allusion of going to the moon, but here Cudi hollows out the songs and warps them as if he really did record them on a space ship heading to his beloved space rock. The two tracks of this set on which Cudi raps-“Going to the Ceremony” and the pre-released “Satellite Flight”-exemplify this hollow vibe in both presentation and lyrics. Here, Cudi’s hook claims, “Where I’m going, it’s all happening / I’m going, it’s all happening.” It’s these kinds of hollow, ambiguous lines that revolve through the first part of the album. They’re lines that hope to set that right vibe, but they do it in a detached manner, never inviting the listener in.
After the fourth track “Copernicus Landing,” which is essentially four and a half minutes of the same retentive beat, the album picks up a bit. It leaves the arena of the spaceship and heads into the mind of Cudi. “Balmain Jeans” is a rhythmic, intergalactic search for someone to “help [him] take off his Balmain jeans”-and he wants someone “who electrifies [his] body.” The track doesn’t really have much to do with traveling to the moon, but it is more bearable than the first 15 minutes of the album.
“Too Bad I Have To Destroy You” follows the same pattern of deviance, and it is perhaps the best track on the album. Here, Cudi sets out to disprove those who say he can’t rap and only moans. Cudi moves with good flow and fires off a long introductory verse following up on “Balmain Jeans.” Against a light beat, Cudi’s first verse fires off and is no doubt the highlight of the album.
The rest of the album reverts to heavy hooks or none at all. “Return of the Moon Man (original score)” is a thumping, thematic piece of work that deserves to blast in movie theaters across the country this summer, but the rest of the remaining tracks have a certain idleness about them-floating somewhere in between the album’s auspicious beginning and tongue-twisting middle.
Regardless of individual track quality, Satellite Flight is still a bridge, and it’s hard evaluating a bridge when one doesn’t really know where that bridge is heading. Maybe in a year when Man on the Moon III is released, we’ll be glad we had this bridge, clunky as it may be. In the meantime, it’s another batch of fresh vibes for Cudi’s “vibe-ing” followers.