Kid Cudi’s Journey: From Man on the Moon to Man on the Moon III

Mentor or apprentice

Really, Kid Cudi? Eleven (!!!) years to conclude the trilogy? Wouldn’t five have sufficed? Jeseesuuuus, I went through at least four different phases during this period.

In 2009, Kid Cudi released his first album, “Man on the Moon: The End of Day,” which became one of my favorite party anthems. I can still vividly recall the wild nights my friends and I had, dancing to “Day ‘n’ Nite” at the only club in our city. Ah, the good old days.

Now, let’s focus on Cudi. Born and raised in Cleveland, he later moved to New York. In July 2008, he collaborated with the New York label 10.Deep Clothing to release his first mixtape, “A KiD Named CuDi,” as a free download. One of my all-time favorite rappers, Wale, was a guest musician on that project. It was through this work that Kanye West discovered Kid Cudi and signed him to his label, GOOD Music. Cudi’s music blends alternative rock, hip hop, and trip hop elements. His second album, “Man on the Moon II: The Legend of Mr. Rager,” was released on November 9, 2010. Since then, Cudi has released four more studio albums, including “Passion, Pain & Demon Slayin’,” which came out in 2016.

This year, Cudi delighted us with collaborations with Travis Scott (“THE SCOTTS”) and Eminem (“The Adventures of Moon Man & Slim Shady”). There were rumors circulating that we would be fortunate enough to enjoy “MOTM III” in 2020.

To Cudi’s credit, “Man on the Moon III: The Chosen” is not a cash grab or an attempt to stay relevant. He has been doing relatively well without it. (Just this year, he starred in Luca Guadagnino’s new HBO show, appeared in the third Bill and Ted movie, and scored a No. 1 single with Travis Scott). But even though Cudi’s heart is in the right place, “Man on the Moon III” feels like an old rock band reuniting with ill-fitting costumes.

Cudi spared no effort and even reunited with his old crew: Dot DaGenius, Mike Dean, Plain Pat, Emile Haynie, and even Evan Mast of Ratatat. To add a fresh twist, he also collaborated with new faces like Daytrip, the beat-making duo from Atlanta.

However, the album leaves a slightly bland aftertaste for me. Let’s start with the positive: the album starts off strong. The tracklist has its moments where you’re not sure if the celebration is still going on. But the end approaches abruptly. Classic Cudi beats, most of which he helped produce, deliver strong trap and trippy harmonies that are signature to the moonwalker. Lyrically, he delves into rarely discussed topics in hip hop such as addiction problems, depression, mental illness, and life after. My early favorites include “Damaged,” “Show Out,” “Lovin’ Me,” and “Sept. 16.” These tracks are melodic with rhymes that resonate. That’s my jam.

Additionally, I consider “Dive,” “Elsie’s Baby Boy,” and “Lord I Know” as standout tracks on the album. “Elsie’s Baby Boy,” in particular, strongly reminds me of Kid Cudi from 2008/2009.

Now, let’s address the not-so-positive aspects. Those who are more knowledgeable are aware of Kid Cudi’s significant influence on Travis Scott’s