As a music critic, one has to master the art of judgment, specifically which albums to review and which ones to pass on. In December 2015, something spoke to yours truly in regards to passing on a particular album. What was the album worthy of skipping – prejudging before judging it via review – Kid Cudi’s mysteriously dropped Speedin’ Bullet To Heaven.
Having previously reviewed Cudi’s other albums, it would seem natural to review his latest right? Well…um…NO. Lately, Kid Cudi has changed dramatically artistically and NOT for the better. Not being a hater, but this change just doesn’t bode well in Kid’s favor as he seems to be single-handedly derailing his own career. Folks, we are experiencing the downfall of Kid Cudi, and it is indeed a sad tale.
Wait a minute – hold the ‘blinging’ phone! How can a determination be made that Cudi’s career is going down to tube without at least listening to portions of Speedin’ Bullet To Heaven? Well, yours truly caved in to partake of the [expletive of choice] mess that is Speedin’ Bullet To Heaven. The verdict? It’s horrific! It makes you wonder, what happened to the left-field MC that slayed on Man On the Moon: The End of Day (2009) or even follow-up Man On The Moon II: The Legend of Mr. Rager (2010)?
Basically, Kid Cudi has drifted far away from just being an oddball rapper, seeking for a second time to make a rock/alternative album. Many would argue it didn’t work with WZRD, but from my perspective, compared to Speedin’ Bullet, at least WZRD was more listenable despite being flawed. Regardless, it’s just not the lane for Cudi, at least if he wants to maintain his fan base. No, this is NOT about making him a conformist – he never was one and that was his appeal – but things started to slip around Indicud (2013).
To reiterate, we witnessing the downfall of Cudi. When you examine Man On The Moon: The End of Day, you can name preeminent hits like “Day N Nite,” “Make Her Say,” and “Pursuit of Happiness.” Additionally, throw in other treats like “Solo Dolo,” “Heart of a Lion,” or “My World” featuring Billy Craven. Basically, examine the entire 2009 album and its one of the more intriguing hip-hop albums of the 00s. It was distinct, setting itself apart from others for all of the right reasons.
Let’s move on to Man on the Moon II: The Legend of Mr. Rager. Arguably, it’s not as ‘classic’ as MOTM: TEOD, but there’s still plenty of superb moments, whether it’s the haunting “Mojo So Dope” (brilliantly sampling Choir of Young Believers’ “Claustrophobia”), the clever “Ashin’ Kusher” or the rebellious “Wild’n Cuz I’m Young.” Even beyond those referenced, there’s more – “REVOFEV,” Mary J. Blige feature “Don’t Play This Song,”“Marijuana,” and successful rock-oriented joint “Erase Me” featuring Kanye West.
Again, it was around Indicud things seemed to slip ever so slightly. There were some moments, such as the unapologetic “Unf**kwittable,” Father John Misty feature “Young Lady,” or “Girls” (featuring Too $hort), but are any of the referenced as strong as Cudi’s first two albums? No – and there’s no argument about that. Still, Indicud didn’t sink the ship – it just began to raise the questions about where Kid Cudi was taking his career. But ultimately, give him a pass on album number three.
So, where did Cudi completely lose it? – The surprise albums. We’ll exclude WZRD as that particular project was released between two respectable efforts – MOTM II and Indicud. But we can’t excuse Kid Cudi presents Satellite Flight: The Journey to Mother Moon, which is just blatantly odd. Perhaps it’s not a ‘bad’ album per se as much as it lacks memorability. With Cudi’s first three albums, naming some notable songs is easy, but with Satellite Flight nothing particularly stands out.
Even if Satellite Flight didn’t seem to be the ‘right’ album for the MC, he still could have salvaged some semblance of the left-field MC most had come to find intriguing without being horrific – yep there’s that adjective again! In the case of Speedin’ Bullet To Heaven, there are just no excuses and rebounding from such a faux pas in this musical climate seems like a tall, elephantine task. Does Cudi care about the reception of the album from consumers or critics? While being a musician requires being tough-minded and tough-skinned, perhaps this effort is one of those instances where he should be receptive to the criticism.
Ultimately, Kid Cudi is in a bad place. Speedin’ Bullet to Heaven makes you question where he is mentally given its raw, depressed, and at times morbid nature. Hopefully these emotions Cudi shares aren’t authentic because if they are, perhaps he’s in a worse state of mind beyond an album. As for yours truly, seeing 2009-2010 Kid Cudi return would be terrific but it seems more and more doubtful with each album. Unfortunately, this music lover and music critic just can’t get onboard with Speedin’ Bullet to Heaven.