March 2, 2012

WZRD (KiD CuDi & Dot Da Genuis) - WZRD [Album Review]

In the 2012 music climate, originality for originality's sake tends to go a very long way; much further than it should. Being unique is the new conformity, standing out has become blending in. As a result, we as consumers are now subject to the likes of dresses made out of meat, ass implants, excessive dub step, neon hair, and lyrics that are more hollow then R. Kelly’s morals.

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With that as a back drop, no one was more disappointed than me when I started to hear some snippets, singles, and other tracks that didn’t ultimately make the cut onto the Kid Cudi/Dot da Genius collaboration WZRD. I fancy myself as one of the bigger Kid Cudi fans that I know, so I’ve been anticipating this album since his 2nd studio album Man on the Moon II: The Legend of Mr. Rager dropped in 2010. The first tracks that I heard which were rumored to be on WZRD were 'Perfect is the World' and 'No One Believes Me'. Neither ultimately made the final cut, yet they provided for an accurate preview of what to expect on the album. My expectations for the album became the equivalent of the Cudder arriving at the VMA’s in a tuxedo made out of lamb chops.

My fear was that he had decided to go the route of originality for originality's sake. This notion scared me as a fan of his because his persona, and arguably his talent as an artist came from his deep seeded view of himself as a loner and a cast out. On his first two albums, there are countless occurrences where he thrives off his insecurity and self consciousness as a loner which provides for a uniquely “Cudi” sound. One listen through of the track 'Solo Dolo' from the first installment of the Man on the Moon says it all. So in attempting to completely change his sound, his non-conformity was stripping him of what made him unique.

If I haven’t lost you through that rambling, what I failed to realize in listening to the tracks prior to the album’s release, was that what makes Kid Cudi great has nothing to do with the style of his music, but everything to do with the way he absolutely pours his heart and soul into everything he does. That’s what’s lacking in the 2012 music climate from so many of the fledgling artists gaining fame through social media and obscene radio repetition. Cudi is who he is because of the soul he provides on each and every track.

The change that I am attempting to identify is tough to put my finger on without actually hearing it. His old sound was pretty indisputably rap. Tracks consisted of 3-4 verses and a catchy hook (often sung by him which also endeared him to me as an artist). WZRD is far tougher to categorize. It will probably be placed in the box labeled “alternative”, but really only by process of elimination.

My best evaluation would probably be a combination of rock, blues, and a dash of rap. Dot da Genius does a great job production wise despite Cudi being the obvious headliner and deserves a lot of credit for bringing out a different, yet still wildly effective version of the Cudder. The beats couldn’t be more unique. Many of the tracks have a heavy rock feel with powerful guitar riffs and drum lines. 'High Off Life', 'Live and Learn', and 'Where Did You Sleep Last Night' (A Nirvana Cover with a WZRD twist) come to mind in this category. Yet they also have something resembling rap verses, in addition to Cudi’s voice which feels straight out of the Muddy Waters generation.

Other tracks like 'The Dream Time Machine', 'Brake', and 'Teleport 2 Me' have a psychedelic rock sound reminiscent of Pink Floyd, with a pinch of rap and blues which provides for a unique combination.

No one likes MOTM Cudi more then I do, so here’s to hoping that that variation of him isn’t dead. Yet there’s something undeniable about WZRD that only gets better with each listen. Similarly to Kanye’s interesting adventure into auto tune on 808’s and Heartbreak, it had its moments, but no one was disappointed when Kanye returned to form on My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy. If this will be Cudi’s sound when he teams up with Dot da Genius, yet he still maintains the qualities that made him great when he goes back to being a solo artist, no one will be happier than me. It will be a true testament to his versatility as an artist.

After listening, I realized that my expectations preceded the album and left me hoping for something I wasn’t going to get. But different is not always worse. It was my own fault considering that the artist attributed credit for the album isn’t even Kid Cudi. The artist and the album are both called WZRD. That should have tipped me off from the beginning that it wouldn’t have all of the components of a Cudi project. Although, it did have the one that counts over all others: 100% of Scott Mescudi’s heart and soul.

Rating: 6.8

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