Album Review of Passion, Pain & Demon Slayin' by Kid Cudi.
Release Date: Dec 28, 2016
Record label: Republic
Genre(s): Rap, Alternative Rap, Underground Rap, Left-Field Hip-Hop
Following the noble misstep of 2015's grunge-rap Speedin' Bullet 2 Heaven, Kid Cudi returns to introspective hip-hop weirdness on his sixth outing, Passion, Pain & Demon Slayin'. The sprawling effort finds Scott Mescudi in a new, healing state, fresh from a self-imposed hospitalization for depression and suicidal urges. Sonically, it recalls his early Man on the Moon period (production by Mike Dean and Plain Pat keep things consistent), but emotionally, it offers deeper therapy and catharsis.
Kid Cudi has had a long year battling mental health issues, but in spite of his hardships, he's followed through on his promise to release his sixth studio album, Passion, Pain & Demon Slayin'. The mammoth four-part, 19-track album offers an early Christmas gift for fans who hoped for a revival of the pre-Speedin' Bullet 2 Heaven Cudi sound. Passion, Pain & Demon Slayin' features Pharrell, André 3000 (billed as André Benjamin), Travis Scott, Willow Smith and copious amounts of Cudi's signature humming.
Before the social media firestorm threw meme production into hyperdrive, “KiD CuDi” was dropping Internet hilarity into the Hip Hop stratosphere simply by giving interviews. Approximately six years ago, Cudi told Complex’s Joe La Puma that he and his boys over at G.O.O.D. Music didn’t mesh too well with the sonics and styles of his once good friend, Wale.
In the most unlikely of genres, Kid Cudi made a name for himself with brutally honest confessions about the mental demons he battles on a daily basis. Spanning close to a decade, Cudi’s unguarded raps and croons earned him his spot not only in the eyes of devoted fans but the entertainment world at large (even though radio play is something that has eluded him almost his entire career). His latest release, Passion, Pain, & Demon Slayin’ is one of his most ambitious projects to date.
Scott Mescudi does not make small projects. His shortest album, Satellite Flight: The Journey to Mother Moon, runs 41 minutes, and last year, he somehow wrung over 91 minutes out of the psychedelic acoustic Speedin’ Bullet 2 Heaven. Grandiosity is part of Kid Cudi’s charm: His world is melodramatic and vast while remaining entrenched in his most personal memories.
While it’s now old hat for new musicians to reach prominence out of nowhere, the ascent of Scott Mescudi, better known as Kid Cudi, is still legendary. His debut single, “Day ’n’ Night” was officially released in February 2008. It created a good groundswell and his mixtape A Kid Named Cudi caught the attention of Kanye West, who signed him to his GOOD Music imprint.
Since his breakout single, Day ’n’ Nite, reached No 2 in the UK eight years ago, Scott Mescudi’s career under the rapping name Kid Cudi has been characterised by sharp stylistic swerves into rock and open struggles with depression and drugs. His frailties have added to his personal standing if not chart success, and after a stint in rehab this autumn, Mescudi’s sixth album has a roll call of collaborators that feels like a group hug. Pharrell Williams and Andre 3000 add support on this hefty but intriguingly experimental 19-track marathon, while Willow Smith adds weirdness to Mescudi’s trademark humming on the dub hip-hop of Rose Golden.
Kid Cudi has always been a source of intrigue as one of rap’s self-proclaimed outliers. His emotional availability and aptitude for innovation have been as much an asset as his eclectic palette. These traits solidified him as an artist with a sizable reach across pop, rap, and presumably rock, though fans angered by his adventures in alt-rock might beg to differ with the latter.
For many Kid Cudi fans, the question unfortunately wasn’t if Cudi fell of, but rather when he did it. Some would say as far back as 2012, when he followed up Man on the Moon II: The Legend of Mr. Rager with his lackluster attempt at a rock album, WZRD. Others may say his official hip-hop follow-up to MOTM2, Indicud, was where they drew the line.
Right from the very outset, Kid Cudi has made a point of presenting himself as an outsider in the world of hip hop and, eight years since his debut mixtape A Kid Named Cudi, his relationship with his peers, the industry and - perhaps most importantly - himself remains evidently uneasy. It’s hard to gauge the exact degree to which the genre has actually embraced Cudi, but they certainly haven’t done so whole-heartedly. For every step forward, every seal of approval - getting Common to narrate his first record, or being signed by Kanye - there’s been two backwards, whether because of Cudi’s mercurial stylistic approach or beefs that increasingly seem summoned up for the sake of it.