First Listen #46: Kid Cudi’s ‘Man on the Moon 3: The Chosen’

As a self-described weirdo, Kid Cudi is one of those people who have a very strong and large place in my heart. Like most weirdos, I started listening to Kid Cudi heavily around middle school. Kid Cudi being so open and vulnerable about his struggle with his self-image, etc. made me feel like my own struggles were being validated – he was RIGHT on REVOFEV when he said “I’m your big brother.” And Man on the Moon: The End of Day (2009) and Man on the Moon II: The Legend of Mr. Rager (2010) solidified that for me. I was constantly leaning on “Heart of a Lion” or “Don’t Play This Song” for emotional support. And while Indicud (2013) and WZRD (2012) didn’t offer me the same level of emotional support, I listened to those projects just as much. I have a very strong memory of washing the dishes, listening to “Dr. Pill” from WZRD; that album is so underrated to me.

After WZRD came out, me listening to kid Cudi’s solo projects kind of slowed. I remember not really liking Satellite Flight (2014) as much as I wanted to; I have not to this day listen to Speedin’ Bullet 2 Heaven (2015) because a lot of people were saying they didn’t like it, and same with Passion, Pain, and Demon Slayin’ (2016). KIDS SEE GHOSTS (2018) brought me back into listening to Cudi more regularly, and it made me excited to hear what Cudi was going to do on his next solo project – turns out, that was going to be Man on the Moon III: The Chosen (2020). And in a state of delusion while finishing an essay for a graduate school application the Friday the album came out, I started listening to the project. I only got through the first half of the project before needing to go to sleep, but I wasn’t feeling what I heard as much as I was hoping to. So today, I decided to pretend like me listening to it in my state of Illusion didn’t happen and that this was the first time I will be listening to it.

Photo Credit: https://www.wonderlandmagazine.com/2020/12/11/kid-cudi-winter-issue-interview-john-david-washington/

2020: Man on the Moon III: The Chosen

(via Genius)

I’m SO GLAD I continued listening to it. MOTM III is a really, really great album. Obviously, Cudi makes good music and collaborated with good people for this project, so my expectations weren’t low; my basic level expectations were meant. I still feel like the first half of the project sets the tone a little weird for me. When I was listening to it the first time, I was feeling like it was the type of music where you vibe out with other people, which feels antithetical to how I’m used to experiencing the MOTM albums (I liked the first half, but the vibe was off). And I wasn’t expecting to hear that on this one either, but “Mr. Solo Dolo III” through the rest of the project brought the energy I was expecting. I think those final ten, plus “Beautiful Trip” would have been the PERFECT album. I think they do a really good job at calling back to what Cudi fans are used to from the MOTM series, but it gives us some hope and growth, very indicative of the experiences of someone who was/is struggling with the things for a long time but has had time to heal and grow (while recognizing that it’s still a process). And that’s what I’d hope for in those 10 years between II and III. And I think it’s a good reminder to all of us that you’re never done healing from the things that really hurt you; it’s constant work. I would’ve hated for this album to be full of party tracks that pretending like we didn’t get what we got on the first two parts. While I was looking for pictures, I read a little bit of his interview with Wonderland, and in the little bit that I saw, Cudi was talking about how he didn’t want to have MOTM III come off as a corny, super positive album. He didn’t want the end of the series to feel fake and superficial. And I think that was a good move on his part.

Be just what you need to be, let’s go

Everything is all on me, don’t count me out

These nights, they save him from my hellhole

When it’s dark and my heartbeat echoes

Yeah, that’s just what I love

Kid Cudi, “The Void”

There’s a lot of moments that I really enjoy on this project. I love the beat change on “She Knows This” – I was confused about where it was going the first time I heard it, but when it came together IT CAME TOGETHER. “Tequila Shots” was also a really good song; the chorus was a very catchy. “Elsie’s Baby Boy” was also a really good song – felt like it built on the stuff that we were learning about him on those first two projects. Obviously, “Beautiful Trip” was amazing for nostalgic reasons. I loved Trippie Redd on “Rockstar Knights”; the two of them together on that track was *chef’s kiss.* I wouldn’t hate a joint project! “4 Da Kidz” and “Lord I Know” were the perfect tracks to end on. “The Void” is another favorite; it felt like MOTM III‘s “Heart of a Lion.” I saw, while I was looking at the lyrics on Genius, that the production on this came out of the Indicud era, and it definitely gives off those vibes. It reminds me a lot of “Red Eye,” actually. I wanted to like “Show Out,” but it didn’t get there for me; Pop Smoke’s chorus felt like it was missing something, and the song in general felt a bit out of place.But I did LOVE LOVE LOVVVVEEEE MISS VADA MESCUDI HERSELF BEING THE LAST VOICE WE HEAR ON THE PROJECT. I CANNOT BELIEVE SHE’S 10 NOW!!!!!

After spending the day a couple of days ago listening through Man on the Moons I and II , Man on the Moon III: The Chosen feels like a fitting conclusion to this project. I think the whole MOTM series is a good auditory representation of a man who has struggled with some demons and his life, fought with those demons in a bunch of different ways for a long time, and is coming out on the winning end of things with work left to dol; it’s a good moment of Cudi recognizing that there is light at the end of the tunnel, and he’s finding himself fully now. I love that for him. Almost starting crying, while writing that lol. I remember scrolling through Facebook the day that he said that he was checking himself into rehab (because he was relapsing on some intrusive thoughts and suicidal ideation) and just hoping that he was going to get better. And it seems like he is. He just seems so happy now. LOVE THAT. We just…really love Kid Cudi in this house LOL.

Overall Project Rating

Featured Image via Wonderland Magazine


(listen to Man on the Moon III: The Chosen on Spotify by clicking the image below)

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