Kid Cudi is finally back with a solo album, and the third installment to the arguably legendary trilogy, titled 'Man on the Moon III: The Chosen'. Cudi's 2010's have been inconsistent to say the least, but with such importance weighing on the title of this album it could provide the extra motivation for Cudi to unleash some beautiful melodies and spacey production into our ears - but would he succeed?
The production overall is solid, it starts extremely well with some amazing, atmospheric trap beats, such as on 'Dive' which has a colourful trap beat that just sounds so good as he continues the party themed first act and it ends with Cudi starting to feel paranoid by the end (maybe some foreshadowing). Lyrically very metaphoric and he doesn’t say it straight, he just dances around the topic as this track comes in so energetic, the songs so hype, the melodies are clean and it’s my favourite so far. The spacey, vibier psychedelic beats on here are good for the most part too, like on 'Mr. Solo Dolo III' which has this very laid back, psychedelic and misty beat, as he talks about his struggles in life and the loneliness that occurs due to that with some pretty surface level lyrics. Again, this creates a nice vibe to a certain degree, but I don’t keep interest all the way through – it's a mid song overall but nothing less. The production loses its mood as we go on though, and I start to find a drop in quality instrumentally towards the end on certain tracks, although the quality probably improves instrumentally in the second half. '4 da Kidz' has another spacey, vibey beat but it doesn’t do as much for me here as he tells the listeners they won’t be alone, and if they’re struggling one day they’ll be past the struggle. He drops some hard hitting, uplifting and raw lyrics, "Never lose hope, if you don't, you'll be golden (Yeah) // Always keep your family close, keep your heart open // Here's to the chosen, solo dolo rollin', hm", and the song has a good message, it would’ve worked really well as an ending but so does 'Lord I Know', it’s a good song but a bit of a step down from the previous because it doesn’t have that 'oofm' to it to take it a step up. Even so the quality of production is excellent and it sounded sweet
As a lyricist, Cudi can be very mystique with his words, and poetic/metaphoric with his descriptions, such as on 'Sad People', "I swim in pain // Never drown, keep my head up above the waves (Get it, get it) // Tired of runnin', I won't run from fate", as he talks on his depression he’s dealing with once again over this basic trap beat, which sounds grand but doesn’t do much for me like the other tracks. It’s a minimalist track which I get some enjoyment from, but it’s another one that’s OK at best. Vivd imagery is also key in his lines, he really sets up an image in your head, as on 'Damaged', "Doomed since I left the womb, where I run to? // And it's like I'm in a battle, leakin' from a wound (Yeah)", which has this wet trap beat with these hollow, crashing drums which sound amazing as he talks about the life he lives and some of the struggles he endures with it. The beat’s nice but the verses aren’t as interesting and the melodies not as appealing on this. It's a pretty mediocre track and the only one I don’t like so far (still not bad though). Overall, his lyricism is actually pretty meh, surface levels at times and even when not nothing too deep or crazy, as on 'Sept. 16' as he expresses his feelings and desires for the girl he loves over this great beat with a hint of sadness to the bells and bass of this beat. I do enjoy this song, but it feels like it just never gets going really, cudi could’ve took it to the next level but failed to do so His slow melodic flow is gentle on the ears and he comes with his usual thick, muddy vocals which sound good.
There's not many features, but that keeps the importance and the spotlight on Cudi. The features that are on here all perform and add to the track, such as Trippie Redd on 'Rockstar Knights' as his vocals are so luxurious on this track, genuinely a really good feature and he keeps you coming back - his verse has some dumb but funny lines too, "Might eat her in the Aventador, The Silence of the Lambs". The beat has these light synths over these trap elements and it’s solid as it's quite a braggadocios yet still introspective track, though Cudi provides average lyricism. Both Trippie and Cudi’s vocals mesh so well, it’s got us on a good run in the tracklist because this is another really good track. The track with Skepta and Pop Smoke is just too good and they make the track what it is, titled 'Show Out' is has this heavy drill beat sounds so luxurious and it’s so fire as we get some more devil references in there and the usual drill themes of you and the gang running up on your opps. Pop Smoke's hook just absolutely bangs as Skepta gives us the classic Skepta silly, tongue in cheek lines, "And they got guns same size as Kevin Hart // Please don't think it's a joke", as he comes as hard as ever and is always a guaranteed great feature. It doesn’t thematically fit, and I didn’t expect a drill song on a Cudi album but this slaps so hard – Cudi was enjoyable but the worst part as Skepta and Pop Smoke steal the show - this will be in rotation for a long time and is my favourite song on here so far. 'Lovin' Me' features Phoebe Bridgers who gives us very gentle vocals which suit this track perfectly over these lowkey drums and heavy synth bass which is alright but nothing too good as the track talks on how self-love is important. Really nice hook, the whole aesthetic of the track has been captured perfectly and it’s a soothing but entertaining track.
This album follows Cudi’s life of partying, alcohol and drugs for the most part, as on the first actual track 'Tequila Trip' as he looks back at all his past struggles and vices over this really zany synth line behind this trap beat which sounds great. It’s really chaotic but chilled, and the melodies are sweet – it's a great song and start to this anticipated album. He talks a lot on his depression, internal struggles and the contrast between demons and angels, like on 'Heaven on Earth' which is a contrasting track, he talks about his fast paced life and while looking for heaven, the devil and his demons are creeping into his life over this really heavy synth bass with twinkling bells contrasting beautifully with this laid back trap beat. This song is littered with religious imagery and vivid lines and is actually carried by the beat, it reaches the desired eerie sound to it but when you get past the beat there’s not too much to it, a decent song still but not a highlight on here. There’s a few other topics on here that don’t really fit into the theme like 'Show Out', but content wise it’s and honest and introspective, though not the most in depth talk on depression and mental health I’ve heard. 'Elsie's Baby Boy (flashback)' talks on his childhood, his sadness and where it stems from such as the death of his dad over this laid back, guitar trap beat – which is so warm and pleasant on the ear. This folk, psychedelic mix sounds good and it gives a good narrative into the beginning of his mental health struggles – bit basic lyrically but it’s a good song nevertheless.
Other tracks to look at include 'Another Day' as Kid Cudi talks about the life of partying and sex but realises by the end he needs to make a change in his life, with introspective lyrics that are eh and over this really unorthodox trap beat but it bangs, feeling quite psychedelic. This isn’t too complicated a song, but it sounds so pleasant and it’s great - it isn’t elite level but you just can’t deny its enjoyability. 'She Knows This' again describes a party scene filled with sex and drugs over this heavy trap beat which is very upbeat and high quality – it sounds so good – the beat switch with these sci-fi synths and it just sounds so orgasmic as his flow is pretty fun on this song, the hook is lowkey but sounds good, that beat switch really amps things up though and it’s a third straight good song - but I won’t put this on the level of the last two. 'The Void' has this explosive, spacious beat – this is one of my favourites on here as he talks about willingly falling into the void to escape his negative thoughts and haters. The verses are vibey, but a bit too lowkey and could have had more to them but that chorus is ridiculously good and catchy – it’s simple but effective, and really makes up for any other short comings of the song.
'The Pale Moonlight' has a guitar based, sparkly beat which is very atmospheric and sounds nice as he talks on overcoming his mental health issues to be more comfortable with himself. The rapping on here goes off and it’s another incredible vocal performance on the hook with a catchy chorus and a really spacey vibe emulated perfectly – top 3 on here for sure. 'Lord I Know' is the final track as Cudi provides victorious lyrics as he reflects on the struggles he’s endured but powered through them to do his own thing over this unique beat with wet synth keyboards over these great trap drums, "Tryna gun a n****, send him up in heaven's gown, gown (Woof!) // Aim it (Woof, woof!), what it do, fool? // I won't be a victim of the devil, got the wrong dude (No)". It's a nice ending, good song overall and thematically fits with another enjoyable hook.
To conclude, this album is full of luscious production and just pleasant sounding vocals/hooks making for an easy listen. Once you get deeper into some songs which sound nice on the surface, they become less interesting and the production isn’t as spacey and psychedelic as the first two 'Man on the Moon''s – but it’s still incredibly vibey and it’s got this misty feel where you can get lost in it. Itt isn’t all standout tracks but they mesh together well and it feels like a proper musical journey. Cudi’s vocals are too thick and musty to understand occasionally, while it doesn’t matter because it sounds good I can get frustrated from it at times bur even so it’s a good edition to the 'Man on the Moon' series and a great way to end the trilogy, definitely a yearly highlight coming right at the end.
FAVOURITE TRACKS: Tequila Shots, Another Day, Dive, Show Out, The Void, Lovin' Me, The Pale Moonlight, Rockstar Knights
LEAST FAVOURITE TRACK: Damaged
OVERALL RATING: Light 8/10