The Scott Mescudi saga that has been keeping gossip bloggers employed as of late has produced its silver lining. There are only a handful ways in which Man on the Moon II: The Legend of Mr. Rager can described as stereotypical. One of the unfortunate ones is that Cudi’s latest album is a masterful musical blend of musical styles produced at (what we hope will be) the height of an artist’s personal turbulence. Stereotypical of artists who push the boundaries of music as Cudi does, he is perhaps as well-known for his antics as for his music. The Cleveland native uses his unique taste in sounds from around the nation and world as the backdrop for his blend of pop vocals and syncopated rap style.
Though the album employs a shallow well of producers, it utilizes a large variety of styles from different genres from 60’s funk to late 90’s pop and into the current popular electronic music. In some ways, the Legend of Mr. Rager represents the musical equivalent of a good night with the author’s alter ego and public persona: a good high. The album, which is split into five titled acts, plays out like a night from the Hangover or like the careers of most of most brilliants music stars. It builds with basic melodies and accessible pop tempos to go along with Cudi’s syrupy whine until the next act begins like the moment when you look around your house and really that a party has started around you as you sat on the couch talking to the first pretty girl that walked in. The third act represents riding the peak of the high and features at least one of the album’s singles. From there, the last two acts of MOTM2 feel like the late, sobering hours after a long trip where the solemn tales of introspection are told. Once you get about halfway through the album, you’ll realize that it already has something for almost everyone. And at the end, the same people who were unhappy at the halfway point, will remain unsatisfied. Most of the complaints around Kid Cudi’s sophomore album will most likely arrive as a result of mislabeling as a strictly (or even mostly) Rap album. Though it borrows heavily from Hip-Hop styles from around his native Ohio and plays on the work of DJ Screw in the South, it also makes use of the input of a wide variety of other sounds, from distorted electric guitars and driving tribal drums to funky bass lines and synth samples. That fact, in addition to the artist’s lack of lyrical depth and clumsy verse structure that have become a part of his signature sound have allowed him to experiment freely and deliver on this album.
The message of the album is a half-apology and half-justification that has become somewhat of a trademark within Mr. Mescudi’s circle of associates. He pretty openly discusses his personal demons and expresses an interest in striving to do better but also celebrates his actions and excuses them equally, if not more. The bouncy piano melodies of ‘REVOFEV’, soulful harmonies with Mary J. Blige on ‘Don’t Play this Song’ as well as ‘These Worries’, and the heartfelt ballad style of ‘All Along’ are almost enough to make a person forget that the subject is hardcore drug use and abuse of alcohol. At least we now know that when he’s not being carried to his SUV at the end of another nightclub binge, he’s making G.O.O.D. music.
This album is a pretty good listen from front to back. Standouts included Ashin’ Kusher, Mojo So Dope, Wild’n Cauz I’m Young, and The End. On the other hand, Erase Me and MANIAC could have been left on the cutting room floor.