KiD CuDi - Indicud
KiD CuDi is one of the most diverse, interesting, creative and outspoken artists in hip-hop today. There, I said it. It wasn't until all the 'Day 'n Nite' hype had died that I actually discovered how talented and unique the 29-year-old Cleveland, Ohio native is. Yeah, that song was OK, it did fantastically well in the international nightclub arena and it got everybody singing along without fail, but that was all I'd heard of Scott Mescudi's music for the months that the single was "in". So I was surprised when I finally played his epic second LP Man on The Moon II: The Legend of Mr. Rager (2010) cover to cover and heard the true sound of Cudder. The genre-defying (though primarily hip-hop-focused) opus received mixed reviews but the true fans came through in support and many regard it as a masterpiece.
Between spots of acting (HBO's How To Make it in America) CuDi attempted a change in direction with WZRD, his collaboration with Dot Da Genius that dropped in 2012. Having given up cocaine and marijuana (something he was notorious for), CuDi found the guitar during his detox and decided to construct a rock album which would further prove his unpredictability within the music industry. The album failed to make an impact commercially but if you trawl any YouTube discussions or forum debates amongst CuDi fans, it's plain to see that he reached the people that he's most concerned with: his followers. CuDi's "fuck you" attitude towards the corporate side of music, coupled with the loyalty and love he gives to his listeners, is just one of many factors that has led to him becoming my favourite hip-hop artist.
His newest full-length, Indicud, sees CuDi take on a bigger role as he jumps into the producer's chair to construct every single song on the album. Not only has he become solitary in his craft, CuDi has also left the G.O.O.D. Music nest to stand on his own two feet, parting ways with his mentor Kanye West after five years together. Indicud sounds like a CuDi album almost straight from the off, with opening instrumental track 'The Resurrection of Scott Mescudi' continuing the cinematic, grand sense of occasion that his previous releases have all featured. A dark, industrial two and a half minute piece filled with cold machinery and villainous mystique, it opens things up for the first big song on the album, 'Unfuckwittable', in which we are reunited with the baritone croon of the lonely stoner. The simple but effective use of electric guitar in the song is super-fluid and again sets the tone for the rest of the trip, and there is a predominantly electronic vibe throughout, with sparse, echo-filled beats that stay true to CuDi's space-age, man on the moon image.
'Just What I Am' is one of the three singles that were posted online as pre-release tracks (along with 'King Wizard' and 'Immortal') and it has to be said that all three are fantastic. The first has a killer synth that drills through your ears during the anthemic chorus: "I need smoke, I need to smoke, I wanna get high yo', need it to get by yo'" which has a robotic, Daft Punk vibe that strains your speakers when cranked. 'King Wizard' is the most downbeat of the three; a gloomier CuDi in pure persona-mode. His flow is hard to describe and well-represented in this tune, taking erratic turns whenever it feels necessary, from slow to fast in equally impressive measure. 'Immortal' is almost as good as the other two, reminding us of how emotionally-charged CuDi can be when he throws himself into a song ("spent the last month feelin' bad 'bout myself, I couldn't speak anything of real hope") and topped off with a passionate chorus.
One of my favourite songs from the album which I have been playing on repeat is 'Young Lady' featuring Father John Misty, aka J. Tillman, ex-drummer of Fleet Foxes. Like 'King Wizard', it's moody and nocturnal which only helps to enhance how fucking cool it is. Misty's exclamation of "Jesus Christ, girl!" during the chorus is laced with irony (surely I don't have to explain?) and CuDi's response of "hmm, you got it goin' on young lady" ebbs with his own signature brand of smooth. The song is also interesting due to the duality of the subject matter: is this song about a girl that is impressing CuDi, or is it about his own daughter with whom he has had restricted contact with following court proceedings? The song's (possibly) affectionate title and the lyric: "I admire from afar, star" asks the question, but all in all it is just a great example of how music can be reinterpreted by the listener, and the lyric "you turn a nigga on" should probably smash the above reading to pieces.
Two other songs which I adore sit near the end of the record, 'Lord of The Sad and Lonely' and 'Cold Blooded', both reminiscent of MoTM II-CuDi. 'Lord...' sees CuDi spitting with attitude over a beat spilling with cosmic creep, going solo and showing why he can be so great on his own in an album boasting with a range of collaborators. 'Cold Blooded' is similar in the way that it wastes no time, straight into CuDi's path with a slick chorus, a heavy drumbeat and a lyric that hints at CuDi's excessive, full-throttle past ("I got some bubonic ya might wanna mix with some whisk"). There are no bad songs on this album, seriously, but there are a couple of questionable ones. 'Girls' has a weak chorus and a less-than-memorable beat, with the featured guest Too $hort failing to make any explosions. The odd/brave 'Afterwards (Bring Yo Friends)' has some nice dancefloor ambience and a pleasant Michael Bolton vocal (an unusual collaborator!) but goes on a little too long. But for me, there are no truly unsuccessful cuts throughout. Having said that, I love CuDi's voice so much that I could probably listen to him MC over the sound of a dripping tap. Maybe a bit less King Chip (CuDi's protege) would have helped, but it's nothing to lose any sleep over.
I am 100% confident in saying that fans of CuDi will dig this record, as he stays true to himself in all aspects while also hinting at new directions. Kendrick Lamar, A$AP Rocky, Haim, Michael Bolton and RZA head up the diverse, interesting guests showing that there is likely to be something for everyone within the 18 songs that Indicud boasts. Once again, CuDi has showed me that hip-hop can be imagined, produced and listened to in a different way.