Life With Cudi: Passion, Pain & Demon Slayin

Hi strangers! A few weeks back I was anticipating the release of Kid Cudi’s sixth album Passion, Pain & Demon Slayin aka PPDS. On that same friday I had the pleasure of listening to the new Little Simz album beforehand but that will be for another time. While I listened to the album for nearly an hour and a half, I found myself concluding a lot about the lonely stoner. I’ve thought about it to the point that I felt the need to express it all. I’ve been able to talk to other Cudi fans about it and found that I wasn’t so alone on my opinion. So here we go!

I’m no stranger to the trials and tribulations of a Mr. Scott Mescudi. Like many I was first introduced to the young visionary through a certain hit single called “Day N Nite“. Unfortunately I wasn’t sold on him at the time. In fact I wasn’t at all into it. That could be due to the constant radio play I had to endure riding the bus in middle school. It honestly ruined a lot of hits for me during those two years (namely Good Life by Kanye West). Or it could just be that I was simply not in a place to thoroughly enjoy it. Who knows? Either way it wasn’t until I first heard the true cry of a soul in pain and absolute artistry in “Pursuit of Happiness“. Still I apologetically admit that I still was not part of the CudFam just yet. It wasn’t until a little later when I was searching for alternative hip hop to listen to that I would be formally introduced to Mr. Rager. I hadn’t really listened to rap since I was a kid without my own music taste. I was listening to brit pop and playing acoustic stuff when I kinda fell back into music from my upbringing. With up and comers like Kendrick Lamar it was pretty hard to ignore it. I’m a fan of great music at the end of the day. So anyway I was scanning the list on Yahoo Answers when Kid Cudi caught my eye. I was like “Oh yeah I know this guy. Maybe this is a sign I should finally check out his discography.” Little did I know that this was the moment he would change me life and I mean CHANGE it.

Like any story you start from the beginning and moments into “A Kid Named Cudi” I knew that this guy had something special. That intro skit is great foreshadowing of what we’ve always gotten from Cudi. He gives us moving pictures, scenes, stories, and truth. I’ve said that “Heaven At Nite” was the first Kid Cudi song to really hit me to the point of tears. The vivid scenes and feelings he portrayed to just simply can’t go unnoticed or shrugged off. It became very apparent that Cudi was a master of his craft and what he wanted to show people. He wanted you to know that you’re not alone and that you could be authentically you no matter what the naysayers thought. Man On The Moon needs no introduction. To this day you can find Cudi fans fighting to the death over this masterpiece. It is considered his best, his magnum opus, and it will likely always remain that way. Honestly I can’t name one bad or even underwhelming track from this album at that is truly a praiseworthy feat. It’s like one of those movies you can just pop in and enjoy from beginning to end before pressing replay. No pun intended but it is still very much the soundtrack to my life. From that soothing invitation in the form of “In My Dreams” to the playfulness of tracks like “Simple As“, “Enter Galactic“, “Make Her Say” to the dark honesty of “Solo Dolo“, “Heart of A Lion“, “My World” back again to triumphant chill out songs like “Cudi Zone” and “Up Up & Away” I completely engrossed in the world of Kid Cudi.  Man On The Moon II brought the same format with a darker edge to it due to his cocaine addiction and ever looming depression. To this day if you ever see me playing this album straight through you can bet on me being in a very low place. Again there is not a single track worth skipping on this in my opinion but “Revofev“, “Marijuana“, “Mojo So Dope“, “Maniac“,  “Mr. Rager“, and “Ghost!” are among my favorites with “All Along” might just being my all time jam.

Those three were the only projects out at the time so I was pretty caught up by the time WZRD came out. Since his more rock oriented direction he has faced lots of criticism. Each project met some harsh words more so than the last. After examining the percentage of tracks I’ve actually listened to on each album post MOTMII it’s safe to say that even I started to become underwhelmed too. I will always support Cudi but I won’t always agree feel the music. I’ve enjoyed songs like “The Dream Time Machine” and “Teleport 2 Me, Jamie” from WZRD. A little more than half of Indicud were jams to me with “Red Eye” being my favorite. To be completely honest I don’t revisit Satellite Flight at all but “Going To The Ceremony” is my walk out song and absolutely perfect to me. Speedin’ Bullet 2 Heaven is the album that divided everyone. While I was not part of the group screaming “masterpiece” I certainly wasn’t trashing it either. I respect what Cudi wants to create as an artist like I would want people to do for me. With that being said, I did enjoy some tracks on there but felt it was way overblown.

Now that we’re all caught up in my Cud history, it’s time for the moment of truth! How did I feel about PPDS? Well to be honest not very much and that’s probably my biggest issue with this album. I went into this not expecting much and just curious as to what I would get given his released singles. I could tell that he was getting back to what made him great but I still didn’t feel that essence about him. For me personally it was always about the feelings he gave me and if there were none then I just felt no way about it. I honestly feel as if he was under immense pressure to make what people wanted and eventually gave in. I immediately thought that when the album was pushed back at the last minute to be honest. Even listening to this album, you can hear all the different places his must have been in over the course of producing it. So let’s go track by track and then I’ll give my conclusion in detail.

We begin with “Frequency” and again I will note that I didn’t really care for any of the singles (exception of Surfin) released before hand. I thought they were a step in the right direction but ultimately not something I would listen to. That sums up the first track for me. The next song is “Swim In The Light” and I was entranced as soon as I heard the main synth. The lyrics are simple and straight to the point. You can try and run from the pain but it will always be with you. I haven’t been a fan of his abundant use of autotune lately BUT the effects on the harmonies toward the end are just perfect. I was very happy to see that he produced this track. Way to go Cudder! “Releaser” is the third track and the first thing I noticed was that GODLY beat! The drums are seriously knocking. Sadly that’s about the only thing I got from it though. It might as well have been an instrumental. Thanks Plain Pat. I love Cudi but it really sounds like a bad Sufjan Stevens impression to me and comes off uninspired/lacking. There’s a point where he starts singing in some language but I dunno I’m not here for it. “By Design” eventually swoops in and has me grooving. The island vibe of it is really fresh and I love dance/house influences so YES! 3 Stacks on the hook is perfect and I love the chemistry between both MCs. Next up is “All In” and I don’t have much to say about it (see no. 1). I like the lyrical content and the production is still going strong. “ILLusions” has a chill instrumental and a nice hook to match. I feel it. The verses feel kinda uninspired to me though and honestly I conclude this about a lot of the album. “Rose Golden” starts strong with a bomb ass intro and subsequent hook. The strings are beautiful and by now it’s like wow the production of this album is SO GOOD. The chemistry with Willow is great and I definitely get an old Cudi vibe from this. At times it feels slightly uninspired but this is definitely one of my favorites. “Baptized In Fire” has a chill beat and makes for decent background music (see no. 1). With Pharrell on production it’s hard to go wrong but…yeah I like the beat but the second part makes me a bit indescribably anxious. Bad colors for me but like I said that’s just a personal thing. Lyrically it was very lazy and I didn’t enjoy “Flight At First Sight/Advanced“. If you were awaiting that classic Cudi flow then “Does It” answers every prayer. This is the first song on the album that has me bobbing my head to classic Cudder rhymes and the beat is cool too. The hook is admittedly a little funny but hey he can be goofy sometimes. Mark my words, “Dance 4 Eternity” was an attempt to make another “Enter Galactic” and it was blatantly obvious to me. While I love the two step vibe of the beat I couldn’t help but laugh at the hook. The potential was endless but ultimately it comes off as a bad “Pillow Talk” and “Enter Galactic” due to the execution. “Distant Fantasies” is another dope production credit for Cudi but is singlehandedly one of the worst songs I’ve ever heard from him which saddens me. I relate to the sentiment however I feel like the execution made it a very creepy song. I could’ve done without those stalkery, obsessed lyrics bruh. “Wounds” is one of those songs that I know I would love if the feeling was right. The beat is good, the sentiment is important, and the chorus is deep but again I find myself asking “is he just telling me this or showing me?” “Mature Nature” is such a chill song but fails to say much. I feel like if he would’ve made it the length of “We Aite” it would’ve worked better. I like the sentiment of “Kitchen” and the strings are beautiful. The beat reminds me a little of old bounce music but that’s about it. “Cosmic Warrior” has a beat that gives me space western vibes and reminds me to finally finish watching “Firefly” (I know sue me) but that’s all I can say about it. To me “The Guide” is a grand culmination of the lack of trying I felt throughout this album. It’s a mess and I honestly will never listen to it again. I’m just glad Andre came through with the verse. “The Commander” is a ray of sunshine reaching the end of this project. I love those dope drums and that acoustic guitar. The nod to “Heart Of A Lion” is very much appreciated, great interpolation. It also reminds me of a bit of it’s sibling (in my opinion) “My World“. I wish he would’ve brought more of this spark to the album. I could definitely see the creative spark he had while making this song. Finally the album is closed out with an extended “Surfin” and it’s crazy good! It’s the only single of his that I’ve thoroughly enjoyed prior to the album release. That chant sample just gets me so hype. Again I would’ve loved to have more of this energy on the album as a whole.

In conclusion, the production was great. I enjoyed every instrumental consistently. It could’ve been shortened by a LOT in my opinion but that’s just how Cudi rolls. My personal favorites that I listen to are “Swim In The Light”, “By Design”, “Rose Golden”, “Does It”, “The Commander”, and “Surfin”. I honestly think that he should take a break away from everything and reflect. I want him to be happy and healthy before anything else so that he can be at his best. Then if he chooses to share his creations with the world so be it. All in all I’m just glad that Kid Cudi is alive and kicking. I hope he continues to find his way to the things that made him so great to begin with.

-Dij

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