Kid Cudi’s otherworldly aspirations, at the very least, have been an affirmation that the Cleveland rapper will never settle for the industry standard. Ever since breaking through in 2008 he’s been an instrumental force of nature, solidifying himself with a dash of bravado, a touch of anxiety and a shot of medicinal therapy. And yet, while previously surrounded by substantial figures, Cudi now finds himself in musical solitude, a decision made on his own accord. No Kanye West, no Plain Pat, no Emile. Solo dolo indeed. Fully handling production duties alongside his usual vocal heroics, one thing’s for sure; Indicud is his most hands-on release to date.
Cudi’s finest moments emerge when his convictions transcend any cryptic persona he’s constructed (Mr. Rager, King Wizard, etc). Over stout drums and a surging MGMT sample reverberating throughout “Immortal,” he puts his daily concerns into perspective.
“Bet you want to see me weak / Not sort of my thing you see / I’m too damn cool, my mojo too dope.” These same detractors feel his wrath on “Cold Blooded” where he raps, “One two one two, assholes now please listen close / I live for the day to watch all you pussies roast / Woosah woosah, so I don’t slit nobody throat / Aww it ain’t my fault, homie thought he had the juice.” Granted, Indicud is particularly upbeat compared to his past projects, but it’s clear that animosity breeds some of his best work. This goes for the Kendrick Lamar-assisted “Solo Dolo Pt. II” as well. Slightly erratic, the track features a cooler-than-thou Cudi relishing in his success.
Interestingly, there are a handful of instances in which Kid Cudi takes a backseat on the vocals (which he’s likened to Dr. Dre’s 2001), and despite his absence, the results are commendable. While it won’t persuade the most fervent Rap supporter, “Red Eye” blissfully captures the vexing trials of life from synth-pop trio Haim. Considerably more appropriate, “Beez” finds RZA rocking venomous back-to-back verses (“I don’t write songs, grasshopper, I write sceneries”). If Indicud is indeed a nod to 2001, then that would make King Chip his Hittman. Making appearances on the first two solo albums (known then as Chip Tha Ripper), the fellow Cleveland-native’s presence is tolerable if only because he’s featured on the exceptional production of “Brothers” and “Just What I Am.”
Kid Cudi’s penchant for total control, and sometimes lack thereof, becomes the biggest hindrance on Indicud. Throw whatever adjective you want at the offbeat inflections heard on “Unfuckwittable,” it doesn’t change the fact that it’s strenuous to sit through. His vocals fare better on “Girls,” but with him and Too Short strutting amongst a cheeky theme, it’s a performance that’s only briefly amusing. Over a distorted melody, somehow Cudi pulls a move on “Young Lady” reminiscent of Phonte’s verse for “Whatever You Say,” in that none of his rhymes…rhyme. And then there’s the curious case of “Afterwards (Bring Yo Friends).” Built around a throbbing background designated for the electronic scene, this mischievous nine-minute cut is capped off by the sparse vocal musings of Michael Bolton. Even the most well-executed Internet meme couldn’t do this odd pairing justice. Forget experimental, it’s downright excessive.
Sustaining an imaginative disposition, it’s fitting that the first words uttered on the album are, “Once you realize you can do anything, you’re free.” Indicud is an ambitious project that Kid Cudi took a blind shot at, and while by no means does he completely exemplify his immortal identity, he certainly makes a compelling case nonetheless.