Pop open a bottle of champagne and fill up the slim, cylindrical crystal glasses. Now place them in the air and repeat the chorus for the song “Runaway” off of Kanye West’s new album My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy:
“Let’s have a toast for the douche-bags, let’s have a toast for the assholes. Let’s have a toast for the scumbags, every one of them that I know. Let’s have a toast to the jerk-offs, that’ll never take work off.”
A cheers and a clink of glasses are in order for the month of November and the hip-hop community. Kid Cudi dropped his sophomore album Man on the Moon Vol II: The Legend of Mr. Rager on November 9 through G.O.O.D. Music Productions. He was not alone with new music, as Kanye West released his fifth album My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy on November 22 on Roc-A-Fella Records. The two albums revealed altered directions in comparison to past albums for both of the rappers.
Kid Cudi’s sophomore album is a deep, personal piece of work that illustrates a man who struggles between the love of his crazy lifestyle and finding a way to control it. With help from other artists such as Mary J. Blige and Cee-Lo, he is able to mesmerize listeners with his machine gun, mumbling rhyming style and smooth, soulful vocals. He accomplishes this all over a variety of eclectic beats that mix the hip-hop and alternative worlds that make up his own sound.
Throughout the album, he continues to bounce back and forth with party anthems, electric guitars, dark beats, and a variety of instruments. Songs such as “Erase Me” and “Ashin’ Kusher” keep him aligned with the energetic, hip-hop edge that is essential for all rap artists. The distinction is that he adds subtle differences, like electric guitar and other elements that are relatively unheard of in hip-hop albums.
Some songs introduce fans to Cudi’s dark, sinister side. “Wylin’ Cuz I’m Young” starts with nothing until suddenly a bongo drum and a clap drops. “The Mood” consists of a keyboard and an echoing sound as if someone is flapping a piece of sheet metal into your ear.
Along with varying tones and beats, Cudi is able to bounce back and forth with his unique signature styles of high-speed yet low-key rap and echoing, hoarse vocals. “Mr. Rager” is the song that best defines his versatility.
The content of his second album also reminds listeners of his rumored drug-use. There drug-themed anthems that are synonymous with the Cleveland-based rapper, like the track “Marijuana.” With a guitar and a piano providing a chill sound, Cudi appears to be inviting other stoners to join him and blaze a fat one as he sings a chorus about “pretty green bud.”
Kanye West’s new album, My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, is all about trying to center himself. His album takes the listener on an emotional rollercoaster ride where sounds change promptly and messages are shared from the rapper’s clever lyrical arsenal.
He opens his album with a steady beat that builds up the listener’s appetite. “Dark Fantasy” features a piano melody throughout the song, while a snare and a toe-tapping beat mix in as secondary sounds. Some of his lyrics give a sense of determination with a hint of arrogance and illustrate that he still has the same mentality that he came into the rap game with.
The direction shifts rapidly in the next song “Gorgeous,” which showcases a kazoo-sounding instrument as the lead sound with a guitar that assists as an ear-tingling, secondary pitch. While his cockiness continues to be on exhibit, a hint of humility dashes in as his lyrics discuss the great ability a person can have, but faces a bigger question of how they use that gift.
The sound of his album takes a new direction almost halfway through the track list. With strong beats backing emotional lyrics, “All Of The Lights” features a star-studded cast including Rihanna, Elton John and Fergie. The song focuses on West’s understanding of everything that he’s done wrong and his hopes for regaining the attention and love he once received from everyone.
“So Appalled” reverses the album into a cold and depressing direction. A string orchestra narrates as he concludes that it’s disgusting to think that he couldn’t help others with his music at the height of his popularity, wealth and fame.
Kid Cudi and Kanye West’s new albums are both classic narrations of the trials and tribulations as they climb to the top of the industry. Both records help the artists regain their position as two of the most influential musical voices of their genre and generation.