Former enemies, Kanye West and Kid Cudi, team up for the collaborative project of the year and possibly the decade.
As stated in my last review, Kanye West really needs no introduction. The man is responsible for some of hip-hop’s most legendary albums in recent history. Kid Cudi on the other hand, is responsible for some of the decade’s most underwhelming and unbearable albums such as, “WZRD” and, “Speedin’ Bullet 2 Heaven.” Despite this, he has maintained a very loyal fanbase.
Now in 2018, the two rappers combine to form, “Kids See Ghost,” both the album’s title and supergroup’s name. So how would a collaborative album between these two enigmas pan out? Actually pretty good.
This thing is a psychedelic masterpiece, with both artists bringing out the best in each other. Fusing elements of contemporary hip-hop, grunge, soul and experimental hip-hop, this project shares elements of each individual artist’s previous work, but it is in no way comparable. “Kids See Ghosts” belongs in its own dimension.
Opening with, “Feel the Love,” Cudi’s moan shoots into a sonic abyss when he sings the refrain. I use the term “moaning” to describe Cudi’s singing because that is what it essentially is. I don’t intend for it to come off as negative, because I have long accepted this is his primary vocal styling. In fact, in this case, this style actually works to his benefit, rather than his detriment. Following a decent verse courtesy of Pusha T, West unleashes a wave of screamed ad-libs with a wave of tribal drums underneath him. It sounds like something that might have been found on “Yeezus” only much more intense.
“Fire” is one of the more average moments in the tracklisting. Aside from the great addition of woodwind in the instrumental, there really is not a lot on the song that makes it special. The beat feels somewhat basic and becomes a little incessant towards the end. At the end, a jangled guitar solo melodically plays in a reverb-soaked atmosphere.
“4th Dimension” has a an out of the blue sample of Louis Prima’s “What Will Santa Claus Say.” The instrumental has a distorted, melancholic quality to it that sound reminds me a lot of “Jesus Walks.” They both just have this unnerving ghostly tone to them. Transitioning from West’s verse to Cudi’s verse are these nightmarish laughs that are disturbing to say the least.
Some of the weirdest vocal stylings on the album come from, “Freeee (Ghost Town Pt. 2)” especially when West and Cudi head into a descent when repeating the chorus. On the refrain, Ty Dolla $ign & Anthony Hamilton share harmonies that are some of the most beautiful I have heard all year.
Unfortunately, “Reborn” features some of Cudi’s weakest singing on the album. He seems to be struggling to keep it together more than usual, when compared to the rest of the record, but even here it is not that bad considering his recent material. The background vocals are definitely supportive of the lead vocal. The addition of autotune at the end gives Cudi’s voice a little more melody.
I love the eerie vibe coming off of the instrumental on the album-titled track. Unfortunately, that is all I can really compliment it on. West goes in with his usual aggressive posturing, but without as much bite. Cudi’s verse is much more engaging than the chorus on which he offers little in the way of emotion, interesting flows or lyrical variety.
“Cudi Montage” has an incredible progression going from Cudi rapping over a grungy guitar riff to him bursting into this beautiful vocal layer. On the refrain he repeats the phrases, “Stay strong” and, “Save me lord” multiple times while going back and forth between them. Despite the chorus and outro being a little repetitive, the blossoming synths give new meaning with each additional refrain. This probably has some of Kanye’s best verses on the album as well.
“All growin’ up in environment
Where doin’ crime the requirement
They send us off to prison for retirement,” -Kanye West
Overall, “Kids See Ghosts” is one of the most unique and experimental records in either artists discographies. While not exactly a perfect record, it will go down as a highlight in West and Cudi’s respective careers. Even its low points really were not that low. The worst points the album would reach would be moments where a song did not progress into anything interesting, but it would at least be listenable. Hopefully this is not the only project the duo releases under this name.