Kanye's former collaborator takes to the cosmos on surprise new album
It’s hard not to feel a bit sorry for hip-hop experimenter Scott Mescudi, better known as Kid Cudi. Since cutting ties with Kanye West last year, splitting from his former collaborator’s GOOD Music rap powerhouse, the cult Clevelander’s career has continued along strange parallel lines to the man he once described as his “creative big brother.” First there was 2013’s ‘Indicud’, Mescudi’s own beautiful dark twisted fantasy – a 70 minute-plus lyrical epic massive in scope and devastating in introspection, featuring a hirsute indie troubadour (Father John Misty to ‘Fantasy’’s Bon Iver) amid an impressive roster of hip-hop A-lister guests. Then there was a Twitter meltdown in January right out of the West book of angry paranoia, blaming his new label Universal Republic for his lack of radio airplay. “Where’s my fucking spins?” he demanded. He had a point. How is an act of Mescudi’s obvious talent and imagination, as glimpsed on ‘Indicud’, still stuck on the fringes of mainstream hip-hop, instead of up alongside his former accomplice Kanye at its busy nucleus?
New album ‘Satellite Flight’, dropped out of the blue a la Beyonce (and yes, Kanye) sees Mescudi at his most experimental yet. Continuing the space age theme of earlier albums ‘Man On The Moon’ I and II, it begins with Vangelis style synths on ‘Destination: Mother Moon’ and from there, boldly goes where few singer-rappers have been before, rocketing through an eclectic array of weed-addled sounds. ‘Copernicus Landing’ is a glitching cloud rap instrumental full of hazy beauty that morphs into something operatic, ‘Balmain Jeans’ posits lusting lyrics and ropey space sex innuendo (“can I come inside your vortex?”) against a backdrop of reverb-swamped keyboard strings and clicking beats, while ‘Too Bad I Have To Destroy You Now’ sounds like The Weeknd and James Blake’s teaming up for a vocoder-laced rally against haters. ‘Return Of The Moon Man (Original Score)’, another instrumental, meanwhile clashes Hans Zimmer-esque cinematic swells with menacing electronic strings, like TNGHT scoring an Aliens film.
Originally meant as an EP, at 10 tracks ‘Satellite Flight’ is a leaner record than ‘Indicud’ and all the better for it. Brave and futuristic, by venturing into space, Mescudi finally steps out of Kanye’s shadow – with not just one small step, but one giant leap.