Carter’s Record Reviews: ‘Man on the Moon 3’ comes through with great depth, heavily emotional experience

Rapper Kid Cudis third album in the Man on the Moon series was released after a decade-long hiatus.

Photo used with permission from Google Commons

Rapper Kid Cudi’s third album in the ‘Man on the Moon’ series was released after a decade-long hiatus.

After the success of Kid Cudi’s collaboration with Kanye West on the now widely successful 2018 record ‘Kids See Ghosts,’ Cudi went back into the studio for work on his third album in the series entitled ‘Man on the Moon.’ The first of this trilogy released in 2009, kickstarting his infamous rap career. A decade after the release of the second Man on the Moon album, Cudi dropped Man on the Moon III on Dec. 11, 2020.

Keeping consistent with the themes portrayed throughout the series, this album features elements of hip hop, pop and occasionally alternative styles. The lyrical elements of hopelessness, occasional loneliness and personal reflections come across on this record, traditional within this three-album saga.

One major difference between this album and the previous two Man on the Moon albums is in the sparing amount of features, unlike the laundry list of prior features. However, Cudi utilizes the empty space to create a soundscape that finds new sonic expressions to introspectively convey a dark side of his mental headspace, as well as his envy to seek out true bliss.

The album starts out strong with ‘Tequila Shots,’ a fast-paced and subtly psychedelic track where Cudi’s unique cadence comes through, as he elaborates on the “war” he is fighting internally. The next track ‘Another Day’ carries on the momentum of the aforementioned track, as he finds himself triumphing on remaining true to himself, even through all of his years in the music industry. The synth-string chord progression fades in and out of the mix, with effects that add an ambient quality to the song.

Other strong tracks include ‘Damaged,’ ‘Mr. Solo Dolo III,, ‘Lovin’ Me’ and ‘The Void.’ Damaged deals with feeling broken, and Cudi’s lyrics about the routine behaviors of someone feeling this way highlight the track. Mr. Solo Dolo III’s return to a psychedelic approach is an immersive experience that gives the listener an isolation from the outside world, with mind-boggling synthesized effects.

Lovin’ Me, my favorite collaboration on the record, stars Phoebe Bridgers. The vocals from Phoebe and Cudi intertwining with the uplifting chord progression makes for a great song that resonated with me on a deeper level. Moreover, the Void is a reminder to not let oneself get bogged down in negativity. Once again, the production on this track is fantastic and is simply enjoyable.

The weak tracks on this record are minimal, though ‘Elsie’s Baby Boy’ and ‘She Knows This’ aren’t exceptional. Elsie’s Baby Boy has strange sampling choices, and She Knows This meanders and is generally underwhelming.

Overall, this album’s fantastic mix of emotional lyrics, dynamic instrumentation and production is another winner from Kid Cudi. This is an engagingly visceral experience, and was a great album to end off the year. I enjoy it immensely, and though it isn’t as good as the original Man on the Moon album, I would give it an eight out of 10.