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20 Watts Reviews Kid Cudi’s Man on the Moon: The End of Day by JohnCassillo

Kid Cudi's debut album lays claim to hip-hop record of the year status

Kid Cudi's debut album lays claim to hip-hop record of the year status

PREVIEW: DOWNLOAD Kid Cudi’s “Day ‘n’ Nite” MP3
WE GIVE IT: 17/20 Watts

For those searching for some of the most original and self-sustaining music of 2009, perhaps Kid Cudi‘s Man on the Moon: The End of Day is your perfect match.

As much as Jay-Z has purported to further blur the lines between hip-hop and rock over the years, perhaps no one has hit the point so eloquently as Cudi has with this record. Astoundingly, he’s already passed up one of his mentors (Jay-Z) in terms of successfully merging different genres. The other (Kanye West), when he’s not making himself look like an ass at award shows, is putting out “experimental” hip-hop already dwarfed by this release.

So how has Cudi succeeded where his predecessors failed, and vaulted himself from mixtape hype-product to industry innovator? The key is in his supporting cast, and fearless experimentation.

Unlike the all-star team that Jay-Z assembled for The Blueprint 3, Cudi modestly surrounds himself with the likes of MGMT, Ratatat and Chip Tha Ripper, along with cameos from West and Common on hit single “Make Her Say.” Instead of stressing hard club beats and name recognition, he went the way of superior production, an eclectic mix of genres and an attempt at something fresh and new.

Along with the electronic and pop elements present in the backdrop, Cudi’s lyrics also present themselves as atypical of hip-hop. Though there is still some of the usual posturing that inherently must go with being a part of the rap game, the album’s main focus is introspection, and the day/night concept present on every track. Many of the topics are even unheard of in the genre, as he embraces and expands upon themes of loneliness, image and personality critique. It’s not so much negative as it is thought-provoking.

These themes even apply to this spring’s mega-hit “Day ‘n’ Nite,” also present on this album. Take away the memorable laid-back beat, and you’re left with one man’s struggle for inner peace and acceptance. For a hip-hop rookie, it’s a daring and depth-defying leap, somehow executed to perfection.

Miraculously, Man on the Moon: The End of Day will probably end up being this year’s best hip-hop release, despite the fact that it’s a debut, and lacks nearly every theme of conventional rap. But maybe that’s what makes it so refreshingly good.

— John Cassillo

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