Kid Cudi and Kanye West have had a rocky relationship over the years. First, Cudi was Ye’s apprentice: Ye signed Cudi to G.O.O.D Music in 2008. Then as Cudi quickly established himself, he served as a heavy contributor on West’s 808’s & Heartbreak.
But later after Kid Cudi left the label… they became enemies.
In late 2016, Kid Cudi denounced both Drake and Kanye West for having “30 people write songs for them”, and continuing to insist that they’re “top 5”. It was a jab that West didn’t take lightly at first, but eventually reconciled with.
Because if tracks like “Welcome to Heartbreak” or “Gorgeous” indicate anything, it’s that West and Cudi are lethal together. They both know it. We all know it.
And now with the past behind them, their latest album, Kids See Ghosts, showcases how bizarre and mesmerizing they can be together. Their spooky vision for this album is depicted well by artist, Takashi Murakami.
It's an eerie and otherworldly listening experience. Ye and Cudi push their chemistry and artistry to the next level. Ye’s instrumentals are experimental and really set the mood and soundscape for this album. Cudi’s voice is a true instrument, as he delivers however he sees fit- rapping, singing, humming, chanting, you name it.
“4th Dimension” is the door to this sound they’ve created. Upon entrance, prepare for the beasts. With a recurring Louis Prima sample as part of the backdrop, Ye and Cudi are relentless on this opener. Brace yourselves...
Kids See Ghosts is haunting and dark. The instrumental plays like the soundtrack to a march through a ghost town. It’s brief, but Ye and Cudi are effective until the end. Cudi’s background humming hovers and floats, as he reflects on the "stars" he "left behind".
Yet “Cudi Montage” takes things to another level. Ye’s “best verses” this year are nothing compared to what he delivers on this album. His pen is sharp on this track in particular, and he sounds genuinely inspired. Not to mention, the recurring sample is infectious. Cudi raps through gritted teeth on this one; it’s one of many unique deliveries he flexes on here.
“Feel the Love” is a standout moment too. Over piano chords and some strings, Cudi’s voice stirs us to “keep movin’ forward”. It’s this ability to take his personal struggles and make that makes Cudi appealing to listen to: he takes elements of his personal struggles and makes them feel like universal mantras. Ye is exhilarating as he weaves wordplay and clever lines into on his verse. It’s all just “cardio-audio” to him; he’s just trying to “jog your brain”.
This album’s conclusion is ethereal though. The old Kanye is seemingly “reborn”, reminding us how potent he can be as a voice for the unheard. Cudi’s vocalizations are earworms, as he wails “woaaah” and layers his voice to sing “stay strong”. This track is the light at the end of the tunnel, the sunshine that comes through when the ghosts evaporate.
- “Cudi Montage”
- “Feel The Love”
- “Kids See Ghosts”
Together, Kanye West and Kid Cudi have managed to craft a cohesive sound for their joint-venture. It’s an experience that’s best enjoyed as a complete body of work from start to finish. Cudi found his passion again with Demon Slayin, and Ye’s days in Wyoming show how hungry he still is to create.
Who would’ve thought we’d see them collaborate in 2018 at arguably the peaks of their careers? One can only hope that we’ll get a sequel to this album. Kids See Ghosts is an A-.
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