Kanye West and Kid Cudi are a pair of names that have grown more or less synonymous over the course of the past decade, though it’s downright ridiculous to think that it’s legitimately been 10 years since the two joined forces and curated some pretty paradigm-shifting music, much of which has resonated with listeners, sympathizers and partisans all around the world.
As those years have come and gone, the duo have had some fallouts. With Kid Cudi deciding to leave GOOD Music back in 2013 leading to West’s exasperated rant about “birthing” the man, it’s evident that the roadblocks in their relationship were not major enough to close the curtains on a pair of label-mates who often looked to push the envelope.
Back in April, Kanye announced a string of albums that he would release throughout the summer. This past Friday, West and Kudi released the third project in that collection of GOOD releases (and a Nas album!), “Kids See Ghosts.” The joint album has been anticipated for years, and it goes without saying that it was an exceptionally pleasant surprise.
From a fan’s perspective, or at least from someone who hopes to hear quality music from artists who I once idolized, “Kids See Ghosts,” in its own unique way, is vindicating.
Let’s be honest here: Whatever projects these two have released over the past four years haven’t really come close to the abundance of sinister screams, partial platitudes and sonic depths that their latest collaborative effort throws at you.
Listeners, myself included, often seek sonic slivers of nostalgia in albums from artists who have evidently shown signs of decline, and“Kids See Ghosts” offers a heavy dose of old-timey Kudi. The fusion of alternative hip hop, neo-psychedelia and rap rock blend to produce a liberating result from the both of them.
So, here is a track-by-track breakdown of the duo’s latest release.
1. “Feel The Love”
Personally, this is the weakest track on the album. Despite the fact that Pusha T delivers with an alright set of bars (“Buy her bundles, fly her out, bring her friend I try her out / Ain’t no worries findin’ out, the details is ironed out”), the hums on this intro pale in comparison to those that Kid Cudi spews throughout the remainder of the project.
Is that a fair scale to rate the songs on? Yes, absolutely, considering that’s the majority of what I was looking forward to hearing. With that being said, this was undoubtedly Kanye’s best part on the album (“Brrrrat-tat-da-da-da, da!). No, I couldn’t be any more sarcastic.
Kid Cudi shines on this one, with a verse so reminiscent of his “MOTM” days that it genuinely gets me dewy-eyed. Those hums … goddamn!
While West comes out with a handful of rhymes over his signature whirling production, it’s Mr. Rager that steals the show and runs with it. He takes shots at his haters and begs heaven to lift him up in this raw track.
3. “4th Dimension”
From his witty play on anal sex (“She seem to make me always feel like a boss, / She said I’m in the wrong hole, I said I’m lost”) to what was honestly the most clever bar on the album (“That’s too new to mention, or fit in a sentence / If I get locked up, I won’t finish the sent–“), here is where you will likely find the majority of Kanye lyrics that will fill Instagram captions all summer long.
Kid Cudi goes on to spit a stellar verse in reference to his struggle with depression and a stint in rehab (“Tell the cougar get up off me, no, my soul ain’t for sale / Sittin’, waitin’ for me slippin’, yeah I’ll see you in hell”). All this over a sample of Louis Prima’s Christmas oldie, “What Will Santa Claus Say?”
4. “Freeee (Ghost Town Pt. 2)”
All right, I’ll be honest here: nah, not this one. If “Ghost Town” had been in this slot upon release as it was intended to be, as opposed to showing up on West’s “Ye,” then this would genuinely manage to be the year’s most flawless collection of music.
But here we are.
Although Ty Dolla $ign makes an impressive cameo on the track, he and Cudi manage to outdo Kanye times a thousand, and even their boastful chants signifying freedom don’t manage to do it for me.
My second personal favorite on the album chimes off and instantly manages to cradle you to sleep with its lullaby-level production. It’s as if sleigh bells are ringing throughout the song, to be honest.
And although I’ve personally grown tired of even Cudi’s prime classics due to the simplicity of his clichéd positivity (“I’m so reborn, I’m movin’ forward / Keep movin’ forward, keep movin’ forward”), this one is truly tranquil.
From his ghostly signature hums echoing throughout to yet another standout verse from Ye in which he addresses his lack of appearance (“Very rarely do you catch me out / Y’all done “specially invited guested me out”) and his recent battle with medication (“I was off the meds, I was called insane / What a awesome thing, engulfed in shame”), this song can be looked at as some type of sonic home remedy that they cooked up in order to keep your head up.
6. “Kids See Ghosts”
When taking a look at Kanye’s award-winning, culture-shifting discography, there has never been one official title track. Yeah, there may have been “Dark Fantasy,” “Late” (my personal favorite) and “Saint Pablo,” but those were only relatively close.
But the duo’s highly anticipated collaboration project also managed to end this trend of adjacent title tracks with what was unarguably the album’s standout track.
The song consists of a Kanye verse so nostalgically witty, bodacious and bashful that I was convinced it had to have been written (and even rapped) at least seven years ago. The verse even marks the first time Kanye has referred to himself as “Mr. West” since 2009! All of this, with a scripture from one and only Mos Def to close it all out.
So ahead of its time, yet so wistful.
7. “Cudi Montage”
Mr. Hudson’s voice echoing across the chorus! Wow! Beautiful! It doesn’t get any more emotional than this one, on a song where the pain runs high over the riff on “Burn the Rain,” a grimy Kurt Cobain sample off of “Montage of Heck,” his posthumous collection of homemade recordings that blessed the earth three years ago.
Kid Cudi is seeking God’s light as Kanye attacks the cyclic stylings of gang violence (“Everybody want world peace / ’Til your niece get shot in the dome-piece”) in his introspective verse to a generation that consistently receives one whenever a big rapper releases an album.
In an ideal way to close the album, the three fade into auto-tuned obscurity insisting to stay strong.