Scott Mescudi, better known as Kid Cudi, has made a valiant return with the follow-up to his 2009 album, “Man on the Moon: End of Day.”
But “Man on the Moon II: The Legend of Mr. Rager” is more than just a follow-up. As the title suggests, it’s a sequel album that offer what most notable sequels do: a mixed bag of improvements and failures with a feel similar to the original, without being redundant.
With his second effort, Cudi’s song-writing, for the most part, has improved. Songs like the well-paced and subtle “Mr. Rager” and the exciting, pump-up jam “REVOFEV” are performed incredibly well in the studio setting but sound like they could easily stand up to the intimate scrutiny of a live acoustic performance too.
But some songs, such as the short interlude “We Aite (Wake Your Mind Up)” and the cocky, youthful rant “Wild’n Cuz I’m Young” simply don’t make the cut.
Cudi’s lyrics are of a similarly mixed bag. “Man on the Moon II” is even more introspective than its predecessor, delving into Cudi’s dealings with fame, fortune and drug addiction. Some of these more intimate songs, like “Mr. Rager and the catchy rock song “Erase Me,” are stirring success.
Other songs, like the bluntly-titled “Marijuana” spend their time reciting hackneyed, age-old verses about drugs and alcohol that you’d think a creative hip-hop writer like Cudi would avoid in favor of more substantial subjects.
There are number of catchy, radio-ready tunes on Cudi’s new album. The album’s first single, “Erase Me,” is probably the most easily-accessible song in Cudi’s discography, and the similarly rocking “REVOFEV” offers what will surely be a crowd-pleasing anthem at live shows. The album’s second single, “Mr. Rager,” is also a highlight, if a little more low-key.
“Man on the Moon II” has its fair share of guest performances. All of these are at least decent, but some are leaps and bounds ahead of the others. Mary J. Blige appears on two tracks, giving admirable performances on both, while Kanye West offers a verse for “Erase Me” that, while acceptable as far as verses go, is far below par for West. Cee Lo Green is the true standout though as his performance on the album-opening “Scott Mescudi vs. The World” is the highlight of the song.
All in all, “Man on the Moon II: The legend of Mr. Rager,” offers more hits than misses and even the songs with the worst lyrics are interesting on a musical level. It isn’t the out-of-left-field classic that Cudi’s first album was, but it’s still a solid album with a lot to offer in Cudi’s distinctive and original brand of lunar hip-hop.
3.5 out of 5 stars
[Photo credit: slumz.boxden.com]