Kid Cudi & Kanye West - KIDS SEE GHOSTS -
Evan Dale // Jun 11, 2018
KIDS SEE GHOSTS is an angst-ridden display of vibrant Kid Cudi creativity and violent Kanye production. It is, by any measure, the best Cudi project in more than a half-decade, the most-well-rounded production in Kanye’s canon since Yeezus, and the emergent spotlight construct to come out of the Wyoming days era.
It’s hard to put into words just how much a Kid Cudi project of this caliber will come to mean to an existing transcendental generation of musical youth who site the Cleveland legend as a heavily favorited inspiration personally and creatively. But we know it will mean great, indefinable things. It is, after all, a great indefinable project.
Kid Cudi himself has long been an artist incapable of being defined or labeled by just about any tooling. Even Kanye West, one of the most polarizing and intriguingly innovative artists of our time, can be broken down to a few complex labels – producer, designer, rapper, maybe narcissist. But Cudi lies somewhere between an astronaut and a heart-broken child poet. And in that breadth, has come his sense of whole-hearted relatability which grants him his non-replicable artistic styling and boundless sense of self.
KIDS SEE GHOSTS explores just that boundlessness and draws from itself a great deal of introspective thought.
Somewhat unexpectedly, Kanye West allows himself to exist on an equal plane to Cudi, trading verses and explosive pops of self-expressionism which blend together into a murky harmony of clear-cut role-playing strengths. For his part, Kid Cudi brings the downbeat emotion, the stirring relatability, the heroic protagoni. The gentle, warm-humming giant – leader of the emotionally-insecure and self-searching, Cudi seemingly picks up on the album’s opening chant, “I can still feel the love,” where he left off and drifted into nearly a decade of uncertainty and mystère following curtains on 2010’s Man On The Moon: The Legend of Mr. Rager. It’s equal parts battle cry and summoning bellow to his loyal, loving fan base, readying them for the subsequent 23 minutes of Cudi retro-futurism.
Credit due to Mr. West for pulling the whole project together and stepping up to play his part in the album’s mystifying duality. In large part, KIDS SEE GHOSTS reads like the conflicted conversation of a single psyche where West and Cudi trade, in stark contrast, artistic styling, lyricism, vocal approach, and emotional stance.
They have always been the perfect example of opposites attracting – if such opposites were allowed to share in common a knack for musical genius. Kanye West spends most of his forwarding presence on the album screaming, yelling, scratching at the microphone with pain-inducing energies and the hilarity of his absurdist ad-lib play. On the other hand, Cudi spends it dropping vintage bounce-driven cadences and powerful, imperfect, emotional vocal explosions.
They come together to secure that sense of duality in a way almost classically good versus evil, light versus dark, with an obvious nod to who’s who. And yet, through Kanye’s vintage – we’ll call it self-assuredness and courage – we find ourselves rooting for him (musically). His production of Pusha T’s DAYTONA is what took it from a great rap album to a great album; The release of his eighth studio album, Ye, was a complex and interesting addition to the greater Kanye solo construct; But KIDS SEE GHOSTS is the first album to emerge from the Wyoming days era feeling like a sincere project painted with the brush of Kanye’s ungraspable frontal lobe.
That frontal lobe – the same one that has long labeled itself supreme and recently admitted itself divided – was able to do with KIDS SEE GHOSTS what nothing else has been able to achieve for eight years – pull Kid Cudi from his shell to shine his full light on the world at a time more necessary than ever.
It’s difficult to listen to Reborn without tearing up and simultaneously leaping from your seat to chase your dreams. It will surely soundtrack many an adventure and bold decision for years to come.
And each track on the project boasts too its own sense of internal drive, emotional relatability, and purpose. Each has its place. Each is necessary and beautiful.