Kid Cudi has crafted psychedelic, celestial tapestries of emotional conflict and loneliness that have resonated with millions for over a decade. Today he returns to complete the story he started in 2009.
Pop rap as we know it is [Kid Cudi's] brainchild
There are few artists in the past fifteen years to impact hip-hop as much as Kid Cudi. Pop rap as we know it is his brainchild - with his brand of atmospheric, melody-driven hip-hop very difficult to trace back before '08. Along with 808s & Heartbreak-era Kanye West, Cudi is arguably directly responsible for the styles of modern giants like Drake and Travis Scott. Since the release of his disruptive debut, Man on the Moon, Cudi has gone through several artistic reinventions - but reaches full circle on Man on the Moon III.
Following the trend of its predecessors, the MOTM trilogy's third entry is an autobiographical concept album. Bittersweet in nature, themes include mournful longing, scathing self-hatred, haunting nostalgia and hopeful silver-linings. Cudi somehow manages to make his music sound galactic and futuristic while remaining deeply relatable and down-to-earth.
Production is generally brilliant and reminiscent of older works merged with modern trap influences. Tracks like 'Tequila Shots', 'The Void' and 'The Pale Moonlight' stand out as highlights in a fairly bottom-heavy tracklist. The first half is solid, but somewhat samey and sparse of highlights. The latter half of the record, though, is packed with quality and feels like classic Cudi.
Arguably, the album would be a lot stronger if trimmed down to ten tracks - but the MOTM series has never been about being concise. The variety in the ups and downs of the tracklist is sort of part of its charm, as is the four-act structure of the album. The first two iterations are certainly more groundbreaking and perhaps more consistent than number three, but it holds its own in one of hip-hop's most legendary album series. A satisfying conclusion to a story ten years in the making.