Kid Cudi “WZRD” Album Review

February 29, 2012 in Album RealViews, Music

01. The Arrival WZRD’s opener is one drenched in atmosphere, full of sweeping, ominous bass textures that hint that WZRD is going to be one hell of an experiment on Cudi’s part. The guitar’s almost sound like an odd siren and the subtle-yet-stirring strings add to the doomsday tone very well, as I could not stop thinking about the 28 Days/Weeks Later movie franchise while it played. Is “The Arrival” going to get a lot of repeat listens? No, but it’s an effective instrumental.

Grade: 65

02. High Off Life Is this Kid Cudi? Or is this some kind of generic rock band? The opening guitar riff, before the hip-hop drumming comes in, would lead you to believe the latter. The generic chords provide the backbone for this decent track. There’s not a lot in terms of variety, making for a somewhat underwhelming listen. While the instruments may be lacking, Cudi’s quirky vocal tone and delivery make it worth a few listens, especially when he reaches some odd-sounding notes during the chorus.

Grade: 70

03. The Dream Time Machine The beat here is a very slow and methodic, meaning to say kind of boring. Various synths and light guitar work do their best to mix things up, but I couldn’t help but ultimately succumb to the song’s sleepy vibe. Not even the lyrics of self-change could save this sappy track. The hook is somewhat catchy enough worth a single listen, but “Dream Time Machine” is for the patient listener and the hardcore Cudi fans only — every one else will skip this track well before it ends.

Grade: 45

04. Love Hard Cudi (or maybe producer Dot Da Genius) playfully vocalize along to the electric guitar in the intro, providing a more light-hearted vibe to the beat. The song moves along at a steady pace, with Kid Cudi’s distinct vocal tone being the highlight once again. The bridge drops the beat almost entirely in favor of a relaxing synth texture. “Love Hard” sees Cudi questioning a woman’s ability to be loyal, seeing if she’s the right fit for him. It’s not a great song, per se, but it sure as hell not terrible and rises above the mediocre line.

Grade: 73

05. Live & Learn Starting off with dual guitars, “Live & Learn” is one of the album’s more accessible tracks. Cudi’s vocal tone, again, must be praised here as his pleasing delivery of, “I don’t know” during the chorus is a treat to listen to. The verses are melodic and catchy and near the ending of the song, “Live & Learn’s” tone and music pattern completely change up, adding in some buzzsaw synths and heavier guitar tones. This is easily one of WZRD’s best tracks because who won’t want to sing along to “where did I come from?” during the chorus?

Grade: 82

06. Brake Another slow track and another tediously slow listen. The intro is unnecessarily long and there are scattered moments of lulls that come off as pretentious, beating us over the head that WZRD is an experimental album — we get it Dot and Kid, no need to stop the beat and beat us over the head with spacey satellite sounds to remind us how you guys are “breaking new ground”. “Brake” is forgettable and the songwriting, frankly, seems lazy in its lyrical content and melodic structure. I can’t imagine anyone listening to this track out of their own free will during their free time…unless you’re trying to fall asleep, then I perfectly understand why you would voluntarily opt to listen to “Brake”.

Grade: 35

07. Teleport 2 Me, Jamie The album’s lead single is definitely one of the few upbeat moments (but it’s not a fast-paced song) on WZRD and thank God because the slower tracks have proven to be sloppy messes with Cudi and Dot’s heads a little too high up their asses. While it’s not an amazing track by any means, it just almost feels like it is because it’s actually listenable. The “na-na-na’s” are sing-along-worthy and the synth-laden backdrop is a pleasurable one for the most part. “Teleport 2 Me” feels like an odd choice for a lead single as it’s not the strongest song on the album nor the most catchiest. The verses are melodic enough and the chorus serviceable.

Grade: 70

08. Where Did You Sleep Last Night This track is actually a cover a Lead Belly song and it’s definitely a different twist on the track but as much as it pains me to say this, I think Nirvana’s cover is better. Not to say this one’s bad but if you don’t know the original, I doubt you’re going to want to listen to it — just because it’s a cover doesn’t mean it’s not boring because let me tell you, “Where Did You Sleep Last Night” is boring. I am really starting to detest this album because of how pompous it comes off to be, making me yearn for Cudi to return to the Man on the Moon series because if Cudi continues down this path of really slow, dull, and horrifically lifeless, I fear for his career because I know I’m not the only one who’s bored to death by this album so far and I’m a Cudi fan — imagine those checking him out the first time by jumping into WZRD? Skip this.

Grade: 40

09. Efflictim  Cudi tackles the topic of “what if I was dead” over a barebones beat fueled by an acoustic guitar. The results? It’s actually a pleasant acoustic song thanks to Cudi’s vocals. Is he an outstanding singer? No, never has been, but the odd quality his voice hosts makes it all okay. “Efflictim” isn’t particularly a good song when taken in context to the plethora of acoustic ballads, but his personal delivery makes for some redeemable qualities as does the fact that Dot and he decided to stay strictly acoustic.

Grade: 62

10. Dr. Pill Fat bass and a distorted synth/heavily-effected guitar make for a great intro. The verses are decent but the chorus is a complete letdown, making for a “is that is?” kind of moment. As you can guess by the title, this is all about the dependency on substances for making life easier. While I appreciate the more aggressive beat, I can’t forgive the lazy chorus. While it’s nice to hear Cudi open up about some personal issues, I wish he was a little more creative because we all know he has it in him.

Grade: 51

11. Upper Room Man, we’re finally at the closer and thanks to the way-too-many number of slow tracks, it’s felt like a long journey to get here. Hopefully “Upper Room” can close the album on a positive note and does it? Well, let’s just say it was the best slow-paced song off the album, so in a way, yeah — it does close WZRD out decently but far from greatly. It’s the vocal melodies that carry this song as the beat feels like every other slow beat off of WZRD. Thankfully, “Upper Room” is mercifully short at a little over three minutes. It’s a decent track and if it weren’t for the “most people are pussies” line, it’d be forgettable, especially since it closes out on cliché violins.

Grade: 54

I cannot express how disappointed I am by WZRD. When I initially heard of the duo of Kid Cudi and Dot Da Genius teaming up to make a rock-centric, hip-hop album, how could I not get excited? Kid Cudi is an immense talent and it’s understandable how he grew weary of the genre he was in, wanting to branch out and try something new and trust me, I am all for artists flexing their creative muscles. I can’t praise Linkin Park’s “A Thousand Suns” or Kanye West’s “My Beautiful, Dark Twisted Fantasy” for their ability to knock off preconceived notions of their musical identity and rise to the obstacle of musically maturing. Unfortunately, Kid Cudi falls flat, creating a pretentious and, even more criminal, boring album that fails to capture any moments of musical euphoria — any meaningful display of Cudi’s musical evolution. The whole rock side of the album is a neat gimmick and I wanted it so badly to be pulled off, but WZRD just does not successfully blend the two genres in any exciting way whatsoever. On a positive note, it’s easily better than Lil Wayne’s “rock” effort in Rebirth.

 Report Card

Instruments: 43
Production: 50
Lyrics: 68
Vocals: 70