Kid Cudi is a rapper. Or at least people thought he was a rapper. But maybe his listeners should have known from his first single, “Day n’ Nite,” that he wasn’t your stereotypical MC. That song, while base-heavy and electronic sounding, never really had him rapping, but rhythmically speaking to his audience about a stoner who frees his mind at night. So, it seems fitting that the man who never really followed the strict rhythmic confines of rap would come out with an album as unconfined and un-hip-hop as his newest work, Speedin’ Bullet 2 Heaven.
Cudi himself does not define the record as rap. MTV cult heroes Beavis and Butthead make appearances throughout the album. The duo close out the album’s third track, “Man In The Night”, musing that maybe punk rock isn’t dead. But this is not even punk rock, as the aforementioned track draws heavily from the psychedelic rock of the sixties. Its charging baseline, which was played by Cudi himself, drums like the hammer of a blacksmith, deceptively cool guita. Cudi sings self-assuredly declaring “This is the time to be in the moment / Ain’t no room for stalling room time for living in the moment.” It’s as cool as anything Hendrix ever did.
In other places he references the extremely far-out, psychedelic rock of the sixties that was less guitar hero and more acid trip. Like on “Screwed,” which has him singing with a fuzzed-out vocal effect over a fingerpicked guitar part. Even more out there is the seventh track on the album, “The Nothing,” which begins with a man whispering for someone to give him candy. This alone would give a child nightmares, but then he continues the song by using a popular nursery rhyme as the base for the lyrics: “Mary, Mary quite contrary / You’re are going to cut it… / No one hears you suffer.” It’s an eerie warning to the child in all of us: In the end, you’re all alone. But just because you’re alone does not mean you have to be depressed about it. Or at least that’s what Cudi thinks, as this album takes many tonal shifts.
Cudi seems to be self-aware about how manic the album is. After, over fuzzed-out guitars, he had been singing, “So fragile and delicate / Handle with care,” Beavis and Butthead reappear. In this sketch they have to see a shrink because Cudi has made them feel too much. This does two things successfully: adds to the overall weirdness of the album and proves that Cudi is hyper-aware of just how weird it is.
The only album that could possibly be compared to is Miley Cyrus’s album from this year, Miley Cyrus and her Dead Petz. Both albums employ psychedelia as their main musical mode—Cyrus getting help from the Flaming Lips and Cudi from Travis Barker. Both albums are mammoths: Cyrus’s album taps out at twenty-three songs and Cudi’s drones on twenty-six songs. Both albums, but in particular Cudi’s, feel like a voyage from England to the New World: too long and you might get sick of it. This is mainly because both albums needed to have better crafted songs. Not necessarily songs that follow the pop song structure, but songs that seemed like they took time to actually review, edit and work on beyond the first try. After all, three tracks on Cudi’s album have the word “demo” in the title. Listeners don’t want a first try. They want finished perfection.
With that said, the main difference between the two albums is the person that is making it. For Cyrus, everything seems like a ploy for attention, while for Cudi this album seems like artistic expression.
Featured Image By Republic Records