Hip-hop’s favorite lonely renegade Scott Mescudi is back with his mystifying, otherworldly production prowess on his fourth studio album, Satellite Flight: The Journey to Mother Moon. The 10-track album is supposed to be a bridge between his last album, Indicud, and his future addition to the Man on the Moon trilogy, Man on the Moon III. If it is “just a bridge,” then Kid Cudi is possibly one of the most intricate and tactical composers of our era.
Reaching underground-rap super stardom after the release of his mixtape A Kid Named Cudi in 2008, the Cleveland, Ohio, native has gained almost legendary status among his core fans. That particular mixtape, which featured the ever-remixed mega-hit “Day ‘n’ Nite” would get Cudi noticed and signed to Kanye West’s record label, GOOD Music. From there, Cudi became a staple on Kanye West’s choruses and production team. Mescudi’s nostalgic and distressed dispositions compel him to make sounds that are unlike anything ever heard from a hip-hop producer.
Although he had hinted at the release for months, Kid Cudi decided to drop the EP Beyoncé-style on iTunes after announcing its release on Twitter just hours before it became available on Feb. 25. This resulted in a social media frenzy, as his fans responded in droves and he unleashed countless retweets and appreciation for their support.
Listening to “Satellite Flight” is like experiencing a Michael Bay movie at an IMAX theater. Deep drums mix with cinematic-sounding synths and rhythms similar to those in the the Phil Collins classic “In the Air Tonight.” Cudi then employs his guitar skills and punky sound in “Going To the Ceremony.” If Hayley Williams of Paramore was replaced by Kid Cudi, you would get a similar-sounding product.
Although there are no “singles” on the album in the classic sense of the word, “Satellite Flight” may be the closest thing to one. Cudi’s soft, syrupy voice blends with a serenading background orchestra and futuristic drum beats. At this moment, it becomes clear that this album is not about the lyrical content or message; it’s almost purely a dream-like sonic experience.
With the fourth track on the album comes “Copernicus Landing,” which also acts as a cinematic experience rather than music. Had Cudi released this in 2008, it might have been featured in Kathryn Bigelow’s “The Hurt Locker” because of its intense nerve-wracking composure.
The album’s true gem comes in the form of the sensual experience that is “Balmain Jeans.” Kid Cudi sings about a romantic encounter with such warmth and passion that the weight of it lifts your mood. He sings, “It’s been so long, it’s such a hobby / I need someone who electrifies my body / I need you, to protect my heart / Gimme your hand, put it here and this is where you start.” This track flows into Cudi’s self-aware and wallflower perspective masterpiece, “Too Bad I Have To Destroy You Now.” In this self-conscious track Cudi exclaims, “People talk shit about me, deep down they knowin’ they ain’t right / Mhm, when I walk in the room they can’t look in my eyes.” Cudi has always given off the vibe of the tortured artist, and he really nails it on this one.
At the album’s end, the listener is left with Cudi’s ever-dying narrative of the lonely and struggling youth with “Troubled Boy.” He sings, “And I’ve learned, no one wants a troubled boy, all they know is trouble, boy / And I’ve learned, no one wants a troubled boy, show the mirror you’re stronger, boy.” With repeated guitar plucking and downtempo instrumentation, visions of a medieval folktale being sung by a jester float into the listener’s head.
Cudi displays a musical talent far and above any most rappers in the game. Not only does Cudi sing all of the songs, he produced all of them, composed all of them and played instruments on many of them. The unworldly experience that is Satellite Flight: The Journey to Mother Moon plays like a film, sounds like an orchestra of beings that do not belong to this world and leaves the listener with a sense of tranquility and serenity. Pick up this album, find whatever sound-cancelling headphones you can find and just lose yourself for 40 minutes. It will put you in a trance unlike any you’ve heard before.
5 out of 5 stars