Kid Cudi released the third chapter to his iconic Man On The Moon series toward the back end of last year. Cudi’s ability to progress the themes of the previous projects, whilst also showing his growth and ability to adapt with the times without compromising his unique style is done so comfortably throughout the album.
Cudi offered up a poster which is clearly inspired by what’s found on the back of a Blu-ray or DVD box you still have laying around the house. In the poster Cudi does the reviewer’s job for them, breaking the album down into four acts.
The album opens with Beautiful Trip, a short introduction using sounds long term Cudi fans would recognise from the previous instalments of the series. Already he is giving us that nostalgic feeling through borrowing the sounds from some of his most beloved tracks. This is immediately followed up with a space shuttle countdown, this being a direct reference to the overarching theme in all three of the projects, space voyage. Cudi is preparing us for an interstellar exploration of his mind.
The standout for the first act has to be She Knows This, an unapologetic trap banger. What is most captivating about this track is how we are able to see a full circle in influence between Cudi and trap music innovator, Travis Scott.
Scott has not been shy in discussing Cudi’s influence on him, saying himself how the stage name he adopted is inspired by Cudi, with Cudi’s real name being Scott. In the track, Cudi adopts so many elements of the trap genre which Scott helped pioneer. That being distinct autotune and reverb on his voice and the excessive use of adlibs throughout the track not to mention the booming 808’s. This track and others such as Damaged display Cudi’s ability to adapt to what’s on trend and transform his style for a modern audience.
We soon get to the second act, with standout tracks such as Show Out featuring Skepta and a posthumous showing from Brooklyn rapper, Pop Smoke. Again, Cudi shows his versatility rapping over a UK inspired drill beat., highlighting the growing influence, the UK has in mainstream hip-hop.
Cudi seems to be a clear fan of trilogies as this act gives us Mr. Solo Dolo III. He delivers some of his most vulnerable and self-reflective lyrics across the three of the Solo Dolo tracks. The first which was released back in 2009 landing on the first Man On The Moon project. The track follows the themes of the previous two, as Cudi charters his struggling this isolation, depression and drug abuse.
Cudi’s introspective gaze continues in the third act of the album, offering us a glimpse into his personal relationship with his mother, praising her for her ability to bring up her children after her husband’s death. Sampling the coming-of-age classic film Stand by Me, Cudi continues the nostalgic theme, even the instrumental wouldn’t find itself out of place on an older Cudi project.
In the closing act, Cudi picks up the mood for the tracks to come, closing the album with Lord I Know. This feels like a redemption track for Cudi, referring to himself as a ‘warrior’ multiple times.
After years of projects filled with nihilistic themes of depression, drug dependence, isolation and admissions to rehab dealing with mental health issues, Cudi seems to finally be getting to grips with himself.
The track ends on a cliff-hanger as we get a cameo from none other than Cudi’s daughter as she whispers, “To be continued”. This surely excited fans who were expecting the Man On The Moon series to finish as a trilogy, but it seems there is still another chapter in the life of Scott Mescudi we are yet to hear.
Man on the Moon III: The Chosen is out now via Republic Records.