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HC Music Review: Cudi’s “WZRD” (Universal Republic, 2012)

On the alternative rapper Kid Cudi’s record “Love Hard” from his newest collaboration, “WZRD”, he sings: “Follow your heart.” Along with long-time friend and producer Dot da Genius, Cudi has seemed to have done just that—proving record executives wrong by taking a musical risk and creating a brilliant and noteworthy rap-rock combination.

Drawing inspiration from Jimi Hendrix and Pink Floyd, WZRD’s rock effort is a surprisingly successful and unique addition to the narrow rap-rock genre; Cudi executes the album by effectively combining the essentials of classic rock with just the right amount of what we still expect from a Kid Cudi album.

Cudi has always been pushing to include rock influences in his generally alternative hip hop/rap genre, and though it peaks through on his sophomore album “Man on the Moon II: The Legend of Mr. Rager,” this third attempt titled “WZRD” is a full-fledged rock project (both group and album named, after all, after Black Sabbath’s “The Wizard.”)

Because Cudi is still accessible in the “arty” sense of hip hop by always including atmospheric samples and half-singing his emotionally deep lyrics, this may be the reason rock is an easy direction for Kid Cudi to venture out in. And for those who are open to hear Cudi though this context, his new WZRD project is undoubtedly awesome.

His new rock muse has opened a can of worms for production possibilities and a fresh outlet for Cudi to sing as often as he can. WZRD’s cover of Lead Belly’s folk tune “Where Did You Sleep Last Night?,” more famously known as performed by Nirvana on their MTV Unplugged Live in New York, is easily the album’s most surprising reward. An incredible cover not generally performed by a hip hop/rap artist, this record may either satisfy or disappoint die- hard fans of the deviant Cudder.

Lyrically, the album is not short of Cudi’s standards: philosphical, depressing, and enthusiastic at times. Sonically, the fuzzed electric guitar and droning echoes mixed with Dot da Genius’ adept hip hop production additives to records like “Brake” create a groovy collective.

Following your dreams may be easier said than done. But as Cudi said about this new chart-topping record in an interview with MTV, “I think it definitely proves a point, that there was a method to my madness, that the kids are out there and they want the music.”

Photo credit: 2dopeboyz.com and globalgrind.com

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