Kid Cudi - Speedin' Bullet 2 Heaven (D)

Kid Cudi is not the artist he used to be. That is a fact. Let's start at the beginning. In 2008 he dropped his mixtape A Kid Named Cudi (click on the album to take you to the free download). It garnered some heavy attention, most notably from Kanye West, who then signed him to his label. Now with some financial backing, Cudi went on to release two of my favorite hip hop albums ever, 2009's Man On The Moon: The End Of Day and 2010's Man On The Moon II: The Legend Of Mr. Rager. After that Cudi departed from his hip hop based attack and teamed up with sometimes collaborator Dot da Genius in 2012 to create WZRD, an alternative rock band, something they'd actually been planning since '08. It featured a few decent tracks but ultimately didn't hold my attention. I didn't know it at the time but this album foreshadowed the artist that Cudi would become. In 2013 he returned to hip hop with the uneven Indicud. While his first two albums had fluidity and growth throughout, with Indicud we we're met with an artist at a crossroads. Though still primarily a hip hop album he switched between genres without fully committing one way or the other. There are a decent amount of tracks I enjoyed here but overall it lacked the cohesiveness I look for in an album, especially after the brilliance he provided us with in his previous efforts. In 2014 Cudi once again leaned into a more alternative effort with KiD CuDi presents SATELLITE FLIGHT: The journey to Mother Moon. This time under his own name, though a couple of tracks were produced by WZRD and Dot da Genius. Much like his first effort into the genre I wasn't in love, but in the right mood I'll still put it on from time to time. There's a spacey-ness to it, it lets you breath and drift and I like that ("Balmain Jeans" was the gem here if you want to get a taste).

Now that we're all caught up let's talk Speedin' Bullet 2 Heaven. I didn't enjoy it. I didn't enjoy it at all. He had been quoted as saying that this album is the, "purest form of his artistic self" and I was both excited and skeptical when I heard this, "which Cudi would we get?"; well, that question has been answered. Though he's labeling the album as alternative it's drenched in a grunge-punk vibe. While he's still very much there lyrically, his approach vocally and musically often drags or displays a lack of polish...I know I know "grunge-punk", but still! As an expression of self, especially someone as complex as Cudi, I think I just expected a more versatile approach. I thought maybe it was just my current mood so I followed my normal routine and listened to it on three different days and each time my response was the same, I didn't care. I didn't even want to finish the album (don't worry I did...every time). He has so much talent and it's clear his passion for music and expression is intense and widespread. I just wish that was reflected here, instead it's repetitive and monotonous (see what I did there). Also detrimental, the constant Beavis & Butthead interludes that I didn't find funny at all (yes I was a fan of the show, maybe I've grown out of it though). Now, punk has never been a friend of mine and the grunge movement was a short lived phase for me, I just might not be the audience for this and I'm ok with that. Maybe the greatness will reveal itself to me over time, a year from now I could throw this on and it'll hit me like a ton of bricks, or perhaps this album truly wasn't for me, who knows. Either way, his masterpiece is still yet to come, I truly believe that; and in the meantime I'll just keep bumping the version of him that I hope returns.

One last thing, in my Coldplay review last week I mentioned fans condemning artists for not making the music that THEY like, as if an artist is supposed to adhere to fans guidelines when making their new albums. Critics are generally on the other end of the spectrum, penalizing albums that don't carry an evolved sound from their previous effort. At the end of the day people will like what they like and the artist iz who dey iiiiiz, plain and simple. I have a lot of respect for Cudi. He is making the music that HE wants to make. He isn't concerned with having the next number one single or album, he just wants to make what he feels and create something that reflects him, moves him. As a listener I want that too. I'm not going to like EVERYTHING. No one is. Regardless of how I interpret the music, I can respect the exploration and the journey. Do you Cudi. I'll always tune in.

Here's a couple album samples to give you a feel, your taste isn't my taste so check it out and see what you think.