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Kids See Ghosts- Self Titled
(By: Thomas Rodriguez)
Kanye West and Kid Cudi team up to create one of the most unique and exciting albums of the year
“Kanye West and Kid Cudi collaborating for a full length album? Why hasn’t this happened before?!”
That’s what many rap fans thought to themselves when it was announced that the acclaimed yet outspoken Kanye West would be teaming up with world famous hummer and rapper Kid Cudi to make a joint album. Throughout most of Ye’s career, Cudi has been in the background, whether it be in songwriting for West’s 808s and Heartbreak, or hopping on multiple songs to offer his distinct vocals. The two share a lot of history, and despite some brief beef that occurred in the past that resulted in West claiming he “birthed” Cudi, their relationship seems much more tight since then. How couldn’t it? Both have suffered similar experiences: they’ve recently had mental breakdowns, have been thrown a fair amount of criticism from fans that want the sound of their older material to return, and are both willing to shake up the music landscape with whatever experiment they drop next. Both are in critical points in their careers, and Kids See Ghosts could definitely have been the make or break point for many fans of the duo’s past collaborations. I had a small fear that we may end up with something disastrous here, as Cudi’s been the creator of a few crappy albums in the past, but Kids See Ghosts rocked me. Kanye and Cudi show an incredible amount of chemistry on this album, and have crafted one of the most wild, experimental, and enjoyable rap albums of the year.
Since Kids See Ghosts was released a literal week after Kanye West’s ye album, it would be reasonable to think that the collab would sound very similar to the latter, but that’s not the case here. Kids See Ghosts is much more out there, specifically in how it sounds and how Kanye and Cudi rap. This is far more carefully put together than the hastily made ye, and it shows immediately in the first track. “Feel the Love” is one of the craziest songs I’ve heard anyone on, and for all the good reasons: its stuttering, hard hitting beat is intense as a hellfire, Pusha T’s guest verse is incredibly menacing, Cudi’s hook is incredibly well performed, and Kanye’s maniacal screaming just gets your blood boiling. It took a little while, but I realized that West’s human gun shots weren’t awful, but genius. “Fire” follows up with the incredible quality, as its rhythmic foot stomping and guitar strumming make for a unique rap beat that few MCs would be able to stick on; despite this, West and Cudi “shit talk” their way through it with incredible charisma and passion. “4th Dimension”, which has an obscure sample of an old Santa Claus song, has an equally dark but catchy beat, and Cudi matches the darkness with one of the album’s most monstrous verses. Kanye goes the other direction with a hilarious verse about his sexual prowess, but the two sides go together like bread and butter, crafting a familiar but alien tune. (I still can’t get the “Oh-oh-oh” out of my head!).
Kids See Ghosts has an amazing aesthetic to it so far, but it isn’t afraid to take the experiments to new heights. “Freeee”, a sequel to ye’s “Ghost Town”, carries over the themes of being free from pain found in the first “Ghost Town”, but is absolutely bonkers. With its fuzzed out guitars, grunge-inspired shouts by Kanye, Cudi, and Ty Dolla $ign, and hard hitting drums, it serves as a prime example of risks paying off. The track just makes you want to scream your goddamn lungs off. The theme of moving on from past troubles continues into one of the best songs Kanye and Cudi have ever produced, “Reborn”. It’s a much more slow event than before, with the druggy beat being comprised of wonderful synths, slow handclaps and drums, and little patches of strings, but the main event are the two rappers. Kanye and Cudi’s verses here are nearly therapeutic, as they discuss their troubles in the past with being depressed and facing scrutiny. Cudi’s montra of “keep moving forward” is equally hypnotizing and beautiful, adding to an already dazzling standout. The title track afterwards takes another sonic risk, as it sounds incredibly eerie with its tribal drumming, subtle synths, and dark as hell hook by Yasiin Bey (aka Mos Def). Kanye and Cudi sound like demons awaiting you in the afterlife when rapping on this beat, and it’s both frightening and hype inducing; this may just be 2018’s Halloween theme song. “Cudi Montage”, despite its weird as hell title, is an excellent closer to the album, wrapping up its themes in a nice lil’ bow. It contains an atmospheric Kurt Cobain sample as the base for its guitar strummed instrumental, one of Kanye’s best modern verses as he discusses violence in today’s society, and finishes the album’s theme of redemption and moving forward by humbly asking God to shine His light on West and Cudi. Wow.
Overall? I loved this damn album. It’s incredible how after so many years, Cudi and Kanye show the potential to top some of their best work. This is easily Cudi’s best album since his debut, and Kanye’s contributions to this short album are greatly appreciated. The uniqueness of Kids See Ghosts is something to be admired; not many rap albums can claim to have as much rock-inspired instrumentals as in this album, nor can many collab albums actually live up to their full potential as this one did. Kids See Ghosts is certainly a spirit that will haunt your playlist for a while.
Tracks to Save: Listen to all of them!
Tracks to Skip: N/A
Listen to Kids See Ghosts here!
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