Kid Cudi-Man On The Moon: The End of Day Review

This could prove to be my most difficult review to date. Apologies for the delay on this.

How do you review a piece of music that is supposed to be treated as a ‘movie’?

Well, I figured it out. Click below to hop along on Kid Cudi’s emotional rollercoaster.

If 808s and Heartbreak was a concept album in a raw, embryonic state, the best way to sum up Man On The Moon: The End of Day would be the fully-formed version.

It’s got consistency in its variety, and a recurrent theme in its complexity that delivers the album as the ‘movie’ that Cudi described it as. Cudi’s style is so addictive because it makes the most abstract dreams and emotions completely concievable.

Much like Trey Songz’s Ready, one of the real keys to this album is its sequencing. It allows the ‘movie’ to flow comfortably.

The intro track, In My Dreams, is a nice build-up to the rest of the album. It’s a chilled out, mellow beat which sets the mood nicely. At the end of this, we get the first of Common’s narrative pieces. These are vital to the progression of this album, and are very good. They add a more ‘human’ aspect to the messages Cudi tries to convey. It’s definitely a necessary step as it’s undeniable that the story can be extremely difficult to follow for your average listener, and for those who aren’t concerned by the meaning Cudi tries to apply to the album, it acts as a device to lure them into taking an interest into the story.

The second track, Soundtrack 2 My Life, instantly became one of my favourite tracks from the album, for two very different reasons. Firstly, it’s a very ‘hip-hop’ track in terms of its structure: it’s got a chorus, 3 verses and an outro. Having a fundamental structure like this then allows Cudi to get his lyrics across in an easily-digestable way. The second plus point of the track: It’s about as personal as any rap track I’ve ever heard, and comes tied with a very memorable chorus which sums up each of those verses nicely. Although it’s an energetic and upbeat production, Kid Cudi delivers an honest and memorable assessment of his life which launches us straight into the action (Also, Cudi’s flow sounds just like this 2Pac track!).In terms of the movie, it’s akin to having a big action-packed scene to open the film up, which hooks you in immediately and gives you a taste of what’s going to happen.

Simple As… is a more upbeat effort, both in terms of lyrics and production. The production is quite likeable too, and the samples keep the ‘simple as that’ motto prevalent throughout the song without Cudi needing to lyrically emphasise it. Cudi’s flow on this is what stands out, especially towards the end of the second verse. As the title states, it’s a simple track which is a welcome slice of something positive in an album that has some very dark, powerful tracks.

Common jumps in again at the end of the track, and once again proves just how central he is to the progression of this album. The next track is Solo Dolo, which is probably the darkest track on the album. To move from Simple As to this would be a huge jump without Common explaining the transition so clearly. Solo Dolo marks the beginning of Act 2 (click here for the list of acts) and is the first of the albums ‘nightmares’, and almost acts as an introduction to the problems Kid Cudi is set to suffer. It’s a very questioning, worried and frightened performance which you can’t help but commend. The production is superb at creating an eerie, nighttime aura around this track.

Heart of a Lion is another track that shifts the direction of the album.  It’s a very uplifting effort, and contrasts greatly against Solo Dolo. This sequencing perfectly embodies the unsteady, uneven state that Cudi is trying to portray throughout this album. The track itself is great, and is definitely a motivating track. The production is great, and Cudi’s blend of singing and rapping is the perfect way to attack this sort of beat.

My World slows the tempo down a little, but keeps on this idea of defiance and uprising. The lyrics are less metaphoric than in some of the darker album tracks, and this tracks seems a lot more realistic and autobiographical: that’s not to say Cudi’s emotions in other tracks aren’t real, but this seems more relatable in terms of day-to-day activities. It still has an underlying darker element to it, and it has an almost ‘evil-villain’ type feel to the concept.

Day N Nite
needs no introduction. We all know it, we know the words, and we know what they mean. It’s a great track, and has a powerful lyrical message about another of Cudi’s nightmares (despite what the Crookers remix sounds like…).

Sky Might Fall is a track I’ve loved ever since the unfinished version dropped a little while back. Everything about this song slots together brilliantly, and it’s an artistic triumph for Cudi. The powerful, atmospheric production meshes with Kid Cudi’s whispery/husky vocals smoothly to create an epic and empowering track. This is all further conveyed clearly in the uplifting lyrics with the theme of finding hope in the worst of situations, which coming off the back of Day N Nite is great sequencing. It’s one of those rare songs that not only works in so many situations, but has a massive cross-genre appeal.

Enter Galactic is probably my second favourite track from the album. Much like Sky Might Fall, Cudi has got everything right for this one, but for a completely different scenario. It’s an upbeat, energetic anthem which is an explosive celebration of a  love connection. The beat is funky and chilled in different parts, and is a perfect example of top-class production. In terms of Cudi’s story, it depicts the pleasure of a positive in an area full of doubt and insecurity, and is an appropriate emotional progression from Sky Might Fall.

Then, we get Common, and we know that means another shift is coming. We get another nightmare in the shape of Alive. Lyrically, this has a lot of room for interpretation. It seems to have a slight sexual edge, and creates the impression of him becoming someone other than himself when on the prowl at night. It definitely exhibits mixed emotions, with the song beginning with an air of acceptance, but moving into finding a woman ‘with the cure’. The production mirrors this perfectly, and adds a very horror-esque feel to the production.

Cudi Zone is an upbeat track, with similarities to Enter Galactic in terms of its production (I’m absolutely convinced that this samples Mylo’s Guilty of Love-can anyone confirm?). I’m a big fan of this track, and it’s fitting movement from the previous track. It suggests that he’s in a state of euphoria that ‘feels like ooh‘, and possibly down to finding ‘his cure‘. Along with Make Her Say, this middle section of Act 4 is a seeming description of positive dreaming, and almost a state of fantasy. On its own, I wasn’t initially a big fan of Make Her Say, but it’s definitely grown on me. Both tracks are slightly more hip-hop structured too, and veer away from the more experimental structures of previous tracks.

Pursuit of Happiness
is set to be the third single, and could go down quite well. It’s a very reflective track, and symbolises the search for happiness by any means necessary: Cudi’s quote towards the end of ‘why did I drink so much?’ is fitting. It’s another nightmare scene, and aptly displays the ease of which situations and emotions can flicker. The production is really enjoyable for its unique qualities, and MGMT do a great job on the hook.

Hyyerr acts as the step out of the nightmares, and the progression back into positivity. It’s a very relaxed and easy-going song, and doesn’t provide any shocking turns in the story unlike other twists in the album. As a stand-alone track, it isn’t quite as strong as it is when placed in sequence with the album, but it definitely has a key part in the transition from Pursuit into the final track.

Up Up & Away is a perfect conclusion to the album. The production is bouncy and the delivery is full of positive vibes. The lyrics are very likeable, especially the ‘whatever‘-themed chorus which is very anthemic. It adds a welcome burst of energy to the album to add onto the blissful relaxation of the previous track, and carries the story into the positive conclusion, and almost feels like the kind of track you’d hear when the credits are being played.

If that is the case, then Common’s final interlude is the scene that everyone misses after the credits. It swings the door wide open for a sequel, and lets us know the story isn’t quite over yet.

Glad to hear it, because this is gripping stuff. Cudi’s debut has successfully acheived just what he wanted to. Although it’s very easy to get lost in the story of the album at times, and it’s sometimes difficult to track precisely what Kid Cudi is going for, you can take this album as deep as you want to. On surface level, the tracks themselves are fantastic to your average listener. There’s absolutely no shame in enjoying music for music’s sake, and this will be enjoyed by those of you who could do without the headache of figuring out what the hell is going on.

Of course, for those who dig a little deeper, the album perfectly mirrors the human dream state: Each of us experience various dreams per night, and none of them are particularly sequential. This is exactly what Cudi has successfully represented, and he’s taken the concept of dreams/nightmares, fused it with some autobiographical elements and created a very personal album that almost worries you with how thought out it is.

Yet, to all fans it’s clear that it isn’t necessarily because he’s hugely intricate lyrically. Cudi himself has admitted that. However, Kid Cudi’s music has the ability to create any emotion that he wishes to, through the ability to tie his versatile voice into a fantastic selection of beats and superb sequencing to give belief and realism to his music. To do this album justice, you have to listen to it as a whole, and really get a feel for the shifts and changes that are almost like every toss and turn during sleep.

So how did Kid Cudi make Man on the Moon: The End of Day into a movie? Well, to quote myself from above, because he makes the most abstract dreams and emotions completely concievable.

And isn’t that what movie-making is all about?

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