Concept albums can be a touchy subject in music, and they
are usually loved or hated. Instead of each song being a story in itself, a concept
album spreads one or two swooping themes across the entire track list. If
someone doesn’t like a few songs on the album, rarely do they like the others.
With the chances of failure that much greater, few artists
release concept albums as their full-length debut. However, that is exactly
what Kid Cudi attempts with “Man on the Moon: The End of Day,” and for the most
part, he pulls it off.
Rapper Kid Cudi, who appeared on and worked on some
production for Kanye West’s divisive “808’s and Heartbreak” record, enters the
musical landscape with a clean and sophisticated journey through his
subconscious that begins with the conclusion of his day, goes through his night
and dreams and ends with the rising sun. The album’s beats and production
maintain a cohesiveness throughout that never lets the listener feel the
journey has ended, but it does offer clues that it’s occasionally changing
Crossing genres and decades, “Man on the Moon: The End of Day” brings to mind The Moody
Blues’ 1967 release “Days of Future Passed,” for both its journey through the
day of the everyday person and smooth dream-like qualities. What connects them
most of all despite all their differences, though, is their grandness in sound
The first single from the album, “Day N Nite,” released more
than a year and a half before the album in early 2008, is equal parts
futuristic and minimalist, playing to hip-hop fans with its smooth production
and flow and the indie crowd, with its personal yet ambiguous lyrics (“He’s on
the move, can’t seem to shake the shade/Within his dreams he sees the life he
Other highlights on the album include “Pursuit of Happiness”
(featuring MGMT and Ratatat), an electronic and introspective look into hopes
and dreams; “Make Her Say” (featuring West and Common), the requisite hip-hop
party jam, full of lyrical posturing laid over a Lady Gaga sample; and “Up, Up,
and Away,” an up-tempo album bookend in which Cudi acknowledges problems are
only problems if you allow them to be.
The album isn’t without faults, though. Kid Cudi has a few too many clich�d, pity party lyrics that leave the listener less sympathetic than annoyed with him (“I’ve got some issues that nobody can see/And all of these emotions are pouring out of me”). His occasional-but-overt drug and sexual references also feel like a weight on an album that wants to break free from contemporaries, and often times they feel out of place.
That being said, Kid Cudi took a gamble with “Man on the Moon: The End of Day,” and, for the most part, it pays off. As a concept album, it accomplishes what it set out to do, and as a debut album, it establishes him as one of the new premier artists in hip hop.