Kid Cudi is back. How back remains to be seen, but he is definitely PARTIALLY back. Of that I am sure. Following the....I hate to say it but, disaster that was Speedin' Bullet 2 Heaven, I had my doubts if Kid Cudi would ever return to the glory days of his first two LPs, and part of me wondered if he should. For the past seven years Cudi has done pretty much exactly what he wanted, caring little about critical or even fan judgement, which, in my opinion, is a concept I think all artists should employ (a topic I speak about a bit more in depth in my review for the aforementioned Speedin' Bullet 2 Heaven // CLICK HERE to read). However, after hearing the first few singles from Passion, Pain, & Demon Slayin' I found myself optimistic, even excited. Does the album make good on it's potential? I'll tell you. I'll tell you so good. As good as you've ever been told anything ever. Just keep reading!
You still reading? YES? My cliffhanger worked. Boy oh boy. Ok, remember when Cudi got what we thought at the time was sidetracked, and made WZRD post Man on the Moon II? Well we know now it definitely wasn't him getting sidetracked and more him delving into the sounds and styles he really wanted to explore (that collab with Dot da Genius had been talked about since 2008!). For his followup, Indicud, he tried juggling both identities, which ultimately just left us with a uneven LP. While there were definitely a few takeaways, it wasn't something I stuck with for long. His next two records went back to the vibes introduced by WZRD, and while I enjoyed pieces of SATELLITE FLIGHT, I didn't enjoy Speedin' Bullet in the slightest. Now, back to the question I asked in the opening paragraph, would he ever return to the days of old? Well, in short, yes. Not in a big way, but big enough, and that's more than I could have asked for. Let's talk PP&DS.
It's good! Really good actually. And nothing makes me happier to say it. This is what I think he wanted Indicud to sound like, but at the time he didn't know how to do it. So he had to continue exploring his sound before he could find the happy medium we have before us. I almost quoted myself from my review of his last album because I thought it was relevant but then reminded myself that I'm about 1000 notches below someone who should even THINK of doing that, but I will say that when it comes to Cudi, if he's making the music he wants to make then I'm happy. I'll always listen to what he puts out there. I believe wholeheartedly in his talent, and this album proves it. It hits on so many levels, especially in the features department, which, consdering the length, he used sparingly making it that much more effective. Andre 3000 (Andre Benjamin here) who appears on two tracks ("The Guide" is my favorite of the two), once again shows us why he's the best and continues to keep us salivating every time he slides into a track. He's basically the Dave Chapelle of music. Come back, come back to me. Back to Cud.
The record is definitely not a full blown hip hop record, even less so than Indicud, though I would loosely address it as one if forced to label it. With the production on point he's able to find that sing/rap balance that he loves to straddle, and does so increasingly well might I add. As with all of his albums, it's a journey at almost an hour and a half, but with it divided into four acts splitting up the listen actually feels ok (though I have found myself listening all the way through on a few occasions). In spite of the length and the intentional breaks this is actually his most consistent output in terms of flow. I know Cudi has always had a concept album mentality, which is part of why I love his creations so much, but this is his most complete. Maybe the best compliment too is that the production on this record shines so bright that I would be all over the instrumental version just as well. I like, and prefer, Cudi on the tracks, but the strongest work here is courtesy of Cudi's musical mind, with the assistance of industry studs like Plain Pat, Dot da Genius and Pharrell.
It's kind of funny, I didn't realize his how much I liked this record until I started writing about it. It really pushed me to pick it apart and I can honestly say I don't have any complaints. NOW, that isn't to say I'm completely in tune with everything, and at this point I still prefer Man on the Moon and it's follow up, but I really like this path Cudi seems to be heading. This record is creative, consistent, exploratory, focused, and above all else just what I wanted. Where he goes from here I don't know, as predictability isn't a stamp that accompanies our hero, but I'll quote the man himself and say that I'm all in, and whatever happens, happens.