Pain, Passion & Demon Slayin’: Kid Cudi Vs Himself
Given everything that’s happened to Kid Cudi lately it’s nice to have some good news. Hot off some twitter back and forths with Drake and Kanye his time in rehab looked like the right move but one that would put him out of commission for a while. Pain, Passion and Demon Slayin’ won’t come as a surprise given the willingness Kid Cudi has always had to put his feelings into his music. Feelings are something he definitely hasn’t been short of this year so the album release was never really in question.
Cudi losing his voice
There’s no questioning the impact that Kid Cudi had with Man on the Moon. There’s an entire generation of artists aping him enough to make that point. That’s the source of the only real disappointment on the album. There are a few parts to the album that don’t sound much like Cudi’s.
That’s not to say Cudi is limited to a certain style, there’s a drastic difference between his debut and Speeding Bullet 2 Heaven. But even without taking Cudi as a limited artist the problem stands. It’s not that the album is missing anything. But a few tracks sound like it’s Cudi featured on someone else’s song.
Baptized In Fire features Travis Scott and sounds more in line with him than the guy whose album the track is on. It’s a good song which makes this criticism a weird one but as good as it is it feels out of place.
The Old and New Cudi
There are a few points where Cudi’s voice isn’t the strongest on the album. Even so, for the most part it’s a distinct piece. It brings back elements we’ve seen in previous Cudi releases. The album carries over the act structure he used in Man on the Moon and it’s pretty successful in curating the emotion of the album.
The three opening tracks build a numb, dull space before cracking it open with By Design. It holds onto the spacey feel of the beginning until Flight At First Sight. Here the energy picks up but the album loses its way. It’s the weakest point on the album until it picks back up with Distant Fantasies. A few weak tracks is nothing special. Coming off the tail of one of the strongest songs on the album, Baptized in Fire, makes it a lot more apparent.
Finding Scott Mescudi
Aside from a few shaky tracks the album remains strong for the last third. There’s no way to separate the art from the artist here. Looking at the album in the context of everything that’s happened to Cudi is interesting. Most of the album was written before his breakdown. The emotion of someone who’s through the ringer is clearly a result of that but the last few tracks paint another picture.
Kitchen seems like a spiritual addressing of the people Cudi feels abandoned him. Compared to Drake’s attempts at Badman status by kicking someone while they’re down, it’s a pretty classy address. The third act seems to go into the most detail about what’s been going on with Cudi. Aside from being a good track, the Pharrell Williams produced final track Surfin’ is a happy note in a mainly introspective album. The meaning is clear, Cudi’s walked through fire and now he’s back.