Kid Cudi and Kanye West find musical equivalency on divergent emotional paths.
Kid Cudi rekindles the spark with Kanye West on Kids See Ghosts, putting rumors of infighting to rest. We've known Yeezy to be a great reductionist, helping him ponder fundamental questions about music, but less so when he tackles his own experiential learning. So when he happened upon the remote landscape of Wyoming, and called it his home temporarily, an expectation was rightly set. With the pressures of ordinary life turned aside, he could finally produce an acutely introspective record sadly lacking in his catalog. A few of those boxes checked out, but Ye sorely felt like lip service, and a man still yearning for an outward sign. Enter Kid Cudi, an equally speculative personality, into a partnership with his mentor, mutually benefiting both men.
Ultimately Kanye West, a controlling person, grabbed Cudi by the collar, pushing him to find his feet, the push he needed, though. Imagine two reformed buds finding respite care in each other’s company, the course of which expires after they return from sedation. ‘Cause when Kanye interprets chaos, it can be easily mistaken for new adventurism, or in the case of Kids See Ghost, a pattern of yelling which resonates fully. Kanye’s utterances of "fear induced" bravado take aim like a blinding shot. The playing field is unbending, the resources unlimited as on Kids See Ghosts, every bit producorial conquest for Yeezy, as it is a reclamation project for Kid Cudi.
Cudi and Kanye have two separate ways of knowing/doing. The result is favorable yes, but as you’d expect, it hinges on a groupable model. Before he traded up for Tinsel Town, Kanye West relied upon an exigency of boredom as a creative kick start. Kid Cudi, although less persuasive a personality, is completely comfortable in this chaotic minefield (mis)directed by Yeezy. All he's asking for at first glance is a shared commitment from an artist on his level of consciousness. In turn, Cudi becomes a nagging source of stimulation for Kanye, and in some way, a better purveyor of folk wisdom. The simple aphorism dispensed by Cudi on Kids See Ghosts speaks louder than words do justice. Upon reflection, their shared sensibility is only commutable when they establish figurative roles: Cudi the Sentimentalist, Kanye his High School Shop Teacher. So, don’t mistake Kids See Ghosts for new adventurism, at the risk of misrepresenting the root cause of their mutual needs. The music on Kids See Ghosts acts out a life-sustaining reflex both necessary and disparate from Ye.
"But you don't hear me though, drama: we let it go," Cudi posits on “4th Dimension” the song which samples Louis Prima to a slightly morose decibel. A generated feeling of disorder and confusion provokes a full catharsis of their physical pain, the weight of which is incalculable. Conjointly, a song like “Feel The Love” demonstrates how Kid Cudi's grumblings express an “emotional grammar” more soluble in their primordial form, seldom running the risk of superseded language. The phrase “I can still feel love” coos a reenactment of desire from one long lost friend to his itinerant host, because when Cudi fell out of favor with Kanye, the result was a scuttlebutt that ended in loss for both men. In many respects, the formation of Kids See Ghosts as a group patches up lost ground, without needlessly shaking hands in front of a camera. The phantom lines of his Gospel upbringing permeate every presentation of Kid Cudi, Kids See Ghost is similarly responsive to prayer.
“If I call you brother then you brother” were words Lil Durk once uttered to describe a stunted relationship. If Durk can speak rather succinctly about grief, imagine the outcome when Cudi and Kanye West cover the same ground. “Feel the Love” therefore acts as the mission statement for an album with a stated purpose of clearing the emotional cache on all counts. Pusha T navigates audible gunfire in a supporting role, his unblemished record in the field playing a symbolic role of safeguarding his label mates from social vulnerability. Pusha T, like anyone with a self-described Machiavellian complex, experiences the highs in sublime fashion, whereas the lows ultimately sink below a clearly discernible line. As an amiable friend, King Push swallows the brunt of misfires, judged to be a metaphorical description of real life dissension for both Cudi and Kanye West in recent years. As the gunfire sails wide, the rattle of “brrrat-tat-dadadadada” proves to be less hostile than is the case. Cudi then turns his cheek, ushering in a new era of stability.
"I can still feel the love
I can still feel the love
I can still feel the love
In many respects, Kid Sees Ghost is the album Kanye should have presented instead of Ye. The consortium of ideas flooded the scene like a weather trafficker causing a mild interruption of service. Ye did however score high for continuity as with most if not all works bearing his name or presence. The best way to describe this idea of continuity is through the overstepped bounds of conventional music. Within a time interval, as he does on "Freeee (Ghost Town Pt. 2)," Kanye West takes unpredictable turns in song progression to further his cause. Kanye and Cudi employ a metrical foot step at different intervals to contain the "rigid" borders of each song. When “Reborn” takes off after the raucous energy of "Freeee (Ghost Town Pt. 2)," credit goes to Kanye and Cudi for writing a musical refrain tying everything together in the space of several measures.
There lies a solution to his “beautiful madness” where the foregone stress of reaching a musical summit is altogether scrapped, seeing as "Reborn" is completely on its own divergent path. Cudi and Kanye both embody a spirit of formlessness when they begin the songwriting process, unlike many artists who are more exacting and precise with lyric ideas and inspiration. The boys at Kids See Ghost understand how "feeling" is paramount. Conceptual framework is thereby secondary, but never an afterthought. The inception of "feeling," from Kanye's perspective, is like an instrument that best communicates urgency. The itch with Ye revolves around a lack of perspective-taking, indubitably a position of strength for Kid Cudi, echoing lucidity when the going gets tough. Kanye West's production is often a disfigured thing of beauty, with Kid Cudi more than capable of navigation in his reposeful state.
Kanye's plaudits come in the form of audible details, to which there are many. Free of constraints, the 7-song structure allows narrative flow. Less flashy than Cudi’s previous works, denied a "genesis," Kids See Ghosts sparks the conversation of mental health through a series of reflective patterns. At one interval, Cudi flashes an entire clipboard of Kurt Cobain voice clippings ("Cudi Montage"). The intended purpose never more transparent. Every stylistic choice is proven advantageous, some more obvious than others. The crunchy drum pad on “4th Dimension” allows Kanye West to rinse repeat. This air of invincibility which consumes him is sustained through juxtaposition, his body next to Cudi's evangelized spirit, one more subdued than the other. Yeezy unapologetically calls dispatch for fear of deafening silence, temporally lost but aware of his heartbeat and the “clicking” meniscus which charts his directional path. Kid Cudi is alternately more concerned with snapping out of cold shock in his introductory verse on "Cudi Montage."
One aspect of Kids See Ghosts and any album associated with Kanye by name, is the deepening sense that the rapper/producer has become a contrarian by default. On Kids See Ghosts, every single politicized reference hits the ear like a callous instrument. When he or Cudi lashes out in brash confidence, it’s because as artists they’ve learned through modes of self-expression, to trust their base instincts. Kids See Ghosts begs you to consider the nature of Kanye's moral ambivalence (towards World Peace) on "Cudi Montage." Even Kid Cudi offers a more nuanced position, like his regard for scar tissue on "Fire," his hair trigger the very physical embodiment of a memory. Tragically speaking, his long term memory is a poor inhibitor of control. So when you listen to Kids See Ghosts, do your mark-up after the final takeaways are rendered. Cudi and Kanye are paired up for a reason, but don't mistake their behavior as a mirrored effect born out of necessity. Cudi's clear vision on Kids See Ghosts just begs reconciliation, and yes...he steals the show.