There is no doubt that Kid Cudi is on an adventure of a lifetime. In the intro track (Scott Mescudi vs. The World) to his sophomore album, Man on the Moon II: The Legend of Mr. Rager, Cudi states that he “promise[s] [us] some generation next shit”; is the adventure led by Mr. Rager truly that of a pioneer on the frontier of hip hop’s generation next? If so, it seems G.O.O.D. Music, headed by none other than American pop culture’s “black Beatle”, Kanye West, would be the perfect vehicle.
Cee Lo Green’s voice floating atop the production of Emile marches the listener through the portal leading from the monotony of day to day life into the dreamscape of Cudi’s cocaine infused alter-ego, Mr. Rager. The march continues right on into REVOFEV. Cudi seems to feel the weight of being a leader to his younger siblings, both literally and to those who listen; remember when we were younger, still had dreams and a bit of naivete, and looked up to the responsible (and irresponsible) big brothers (and sisters) we found in hip hop? For some of us, there is still an inkling of that youthful zeal that once drove us to eat top ramen for two weeks to afford us the cost of a concert ticket. One has got to admire Kid Cudi for recognizing the weight of fame, even if it has driven him to escape the “real world” by way of Mr. Rager. If Scott Mescudi, Kid Cudi, or Mr. Rager has not piqued your interest by the time you get through Don’t Play This Song, then you may want to pinch yourself, wake up and figure that the metaphysical realm of Mr. Rager simply is not for you. It is in this third track that Cudi explains the sources of his desire to inspire through music and describes the difficulties of those issues compounded by the weight of fame, all of which have landed Cudi, at one time or another, face to “numb face” with thoughts of suicide. Interestingly sometimes this song makes me think of my former and current students; eerily, at times, the song also reminds me of places I have been mentally and emotionally too. As an educator somewhat disheartened with an overemphasis placed on standardized testing by the American educational system, I connect with the line, “a son that never gave a fuck about a scantron, all I wanted was to be a human being, show the world some new colors and scenes…” It is a shame that the intelligence it takes to set off on an adventure as complex as that of Mr. Rager is not rewarded and encouraged in the current American educational paradigm.
The rest of the album follows suit and, if I may say, there are a few weaker efforts, especially when juxtaposed with two of the album’s notable gems: Mojo So Dope and Mr. Rager. In both of these tracks, Cudi is quite economic with his words while still drawing us further into the world of Mr. Rager and the hypnotic beats in both serve as the perfect canvas for the dream world being painted. Ironically, though the tracks do feel like they are to be bumped while strolling the moon’s landscape of craters and dust, smoothly floating from step to step, they remain grounded with lines like, “give a fuck about your lifestyle, we live this shit” and “damn, you must understand, what I speak about in songs, is how I really am”. While the world of Mr. Rager feels very dreamlike, there are elements of that world that are very real and others that parallel things in the life of Scott Mescudi.
The song that best summarizes the sonic atmosphere in the head of Mr. Rager is Ghost. The beat seems fitting for the scene in the DiCaprio version of Romeo and Juliet when Mercucio gives Romeo the white pill with the red heart on it, and Romeo wanders through the Capulet masquerade in a drug induced stupor. There are certainly moments in the album when the production and lyrics seem to perfectly align with the mind and heart of Cudi, the good the bad and the ugly.
This tortured artist may be at the cutting edge of hip hop’s future, but I am not sure if his first or second LPs can boast such, yet…
We are along on the adventure, just tell us where we’re headed.
Eager and Appreciative Fans
Peace and Love.