On his last hip hop album, The Legend Of Mr. Rager, we heard Kid Cudi cry out, “When did I become a ghost?” Now it seems as though he’s more ghostlike than ever on his latest project Indicud, taking on many different forms while keeping his dark, smokey presence throughout.
Perhaps the most significant change on Indicud is the all-encompassing role Kid Cudi plays, morphing between rapper and producer on the album’s 18-track run. In a manner similar to Dr. Dre on 2001, which Kid Cudi directly acknowledged, he creates a world entirely of his own, personally conveying all of his moods and attitudes at this particular time.
The downfall though, is that Cudi’s production skills aren’t quite mature enough to fully embody the spirit of his songwriting. We’ve seen the incredible potential that Scott Mescudi has an artist, which in the past has shined brightest on songs produced by someone with a more refined palette. I’m not saying Kid Cudi can’t hold his own on this record; some of the beats he created are absolutely unreal. But it seems like he only has so many crusty synth chords, icy stabs, and self-taught guitar licks in his repertoire that some of those elements end up compounding – instead of distinguishing – his tracks.
That aside, the album most definitely provides a journey for listeners. It’s essentially a manifestation of Cudi’s complete freedom and independence, having departed from G.O.O.D. Music prior to Indicud‘s release. You sense that Kid Cudi feels completely comfortable with where he’s at in his career, and more importantly who he is (even if he is just dark and eerie at his core). Those refreshing vibes are what make this album an enjoyable listen on the whole.
Most of the ghostlike lethargy actually occurs in the first half of this album. The opening instrumental builds hype, only to lead into the awkward and clunky “Unf***wittable.” Following is “Just What I Am,” one of the best tracks on the album, with such a simple but infectious beat and the aural verses from Cudi and the always-smooth King Chip. But the next three, “Young Lady,” “King Wizard,” and “Immortal” seem to blend together in a dissonant blur. Even though we hear Kid Cudi’s powerful pipes on “Immortal,” it still feels uninspired/repetitive from a musical standpoint.
The energy picks up on “Solo Dolo Part II” featuring Kendrick Lamar, which builds on the Kid Cudi motto “I don’t need nobody.” Probably the catchiest song comes next, “Girls,” which is little more than a fun sing-along. On the next two highlights, Cudi officially takes the back seat and lets two other artists ride the beat: first is Haim (an all-female indie act) on the non-rap track “Red Eye,” and then RZA of Wu-Tang, who spits straight fire on the minimal “Beez.” The hands-down best track on this album is “Brothers” featuring Cudi, King Chip, and A$AP Rocky. The three MC’s trade smooth verses on another goofy yet memorable beat, making this a track you can throw on during a chill sesh or a party (something beloved about Cudi’s music). The last two standouts for me are “Lord Of The Sad And Lonely,” which is yet another perfect epithet for Scott Mescudi, and “Cold Blooded” which kind of sounds like a darker, drug-infused version of Will Smith’s “Miami.” Cudi’s personal, cathartic verses are alive and well on these last few tracks.
At the end of the day, I still have nothing but admiration for an artist like Cudi. He’s championed independence and individuality since his first tape, A Kid Named Cudi, showing us all the highs and lows he’s experienced in life. While Indicud contains a lot of forgettables, I really did find a lot of gems on it as well. Some of these songs will be timeless staples for any jam playlist, while the album as a whole serves as another spacey, cerebral journey – which I guess makes it like any of Kid Cudi’s projects, but just packaged a little differently.
Stream it below via Spotify and pick it up on iTunes.