Thursday, June 14, 2018

Kids See Ghosts - Kids See Ghosts Review

Less than two years ago Kid Cudi and Kanye West were feuding. Today, they stand together as the collaborative team; Kids See Ghosts. Since announcing the seven-track era, Kanye, in his Twitter-abiding media circus, made profuse declarations to spread love, mend open wounds, and forgive past indiscretions. By all accounts, Cudi's public mockery of Ye's ghostwriters and Ye's reactive outburst (remember "I birthed you"?) is water under the bridge. Kids See Ghosts' opening track 'Feel The Love,' a poignant confirmation of that, with Cudi reciting through his identity-defining hoarse raspiness: "I can still feel the love." However, much like Kanye's ye and, to some extent, Pusha T's Daytona, the brevity and weak thematic pull cheapen the potential of two boundless artists breaking barriers.

Returning to 'Feel The Love' provides us with a textbook example. As we saw on ye, nothing the G.O.O.D. Music collective has put out thus far ventures beyond the surface level. Cudi weeping the pleasures of reconciliation over, under, and through Kanye's combatant gun shot scatting offers up little imagination apart from the generalizing paradox of love/hate that musicians have been using for decades. That same crux fell flat on ye too, as he leveraged inconsistency to explain his bipolar disorder. Furthermore, 'Feel The Love' features Pusha T lost on a track entirely unlike the comfortable Boom Bap of Daytona, rapping cliched redundancies that provide next to no substance. 'Fire' continues on this path, as Kanye does away with his incongruity and emotional uncertainty to act as a bonafide rapping partner. Despite Kids See Ghosts' new agenda, new motives, and new artistic direction, Cudi still celebrates motivational adages firm on positioning himself as the underdog outcast. Superfluous language like this ("It's so many days I prayed to God / All this pain, I couldn't seem to find a way") overcame 2016's Passion, Pain & Demon Slayin' and tyrannized Speeding Bullet 2 Heaven. The unnecessarily long 'Reborn' is the pinnacle of this ideology, finding Ye and Cudi reflecting on personal triumphs, insisting through five tedious minutes to "keep moving forward."

All that's to say, the conceptual ingenuity we've come to expect from Kanye is nowhere to be seen. The closest we get comes on 'Freeee,' as it's a sequel to 'Ghost Town' from ye. Again, much like 'Reborn,' the predominant message is overused to the point of exhaustion, this time circling the message 070 Shake emphasized on 'Ghost Town:' "And nothing hurts anymore, I feel kinda free." Here, Kanye takes her initial apprehension to the next level, lending a flocking energy that truly feels liberating. Much of this can be felt in the rhythmical production, which is easily Kids See Ghosts' strong suit. Cudi's transition into self-proclaimed, psychedelic Rock God has been shaky at best, but with 'Freeee' that agro-vivacity he was trying to achieve comes through with shining colors. Kanye and company (putting it lightly, as there's a treasure trove of producers credited) help levitate 'Freeee,' 'Kids See Ghosts,' and '4th Dimension' above the rest. The latter prominently twerks Louis Prima’s Big Band 1930's hit 'What Will Santa Claus Say,' similarly to Kanye's sampling of Otis Redding on 'Otis.' The effect is dastardly, as every scratched inclusion of the sample seethes with Industrial discordance over the battleful drums. 

However, the strongest beat has to go to 'Kids See Ghosts.' Full initialized by the first second, the collaborative production draws upon the atmospheric quirkiness of El-P's discography. It's both simple, like much of what we saw on Daytona, yet highly refined with a crisp polish rarely noticeable through Kanye's latest style. With Yasiin Bey attached at the caboose, providing a dizzying spoken word set, connections can also be had to his collaboration with Ferrari Sheppard on Dec. 99th. However, despite being the title track, 'Kids See Ghosts' doesn't offer answers to any lingering questions. Cudi flexes using his standard fanfare ("All this time searching hard for something / I can hear the angels coming") while Kanye intertwines topical references with his crude demeanor ("I like breakfast in bed, but I love breakfast and head"), failing to associate with the namesake they attached their branding on. Occasional strokes of brilliance in the prismatic production can't masked the shortcomings of Kids See Ghosts, a record that's mildly enjoyable if one's able to look past the lack of a meaningful message.

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