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Album Review: Kid Cudi, Indicud

When Kid Cudi first announced his third solo LP, Indicud, he likened it to his own version of Dr. Dre’s classic 2001. A lofty comparison, sure, but Cudi clarified that he planned on embodying Dre’s behind-the-scenes mastermind persona, and in a way curate a collaborative album. “Some things I’ll produce, others i’ll feat &/or play songwriter” he tweeted. From early reports of possible Indicud contributors, it looked like Cudi was pulling together a diverse crew of artists for a project that would end up being an indie all-star show. But the resulting album, the release of which was pulled up a week due to an early leak, is less a curatorial effort than just another Kid Cudi album that exclusively features his own production this time around.

Indicud is an at-times very good album, but it’s certainly no 2001. This isn’t because of a lack of ingenuity or creativity on Cudi’s part, but rather because the decision to act as the project’s sole producer didn’t do him any favors. Simply put, he’s not nearly as good of a producer as Dre. Looking back at the timeline of how this album came together, it appears that Cudi took up producing shortly after the release of his experimental rock album, WZRD, and hints of his inexperience are scattered throughout the album. Production wise, Indicud’s highlights are mildly interesting at best, the duds repetitively derivative and boring.

Sometimes the simplicity works in Cudi’s favor. “Just What I Am,” a teaser single he released months ago, is really just a few synth lines over a layered, extra-basic drum beat. It’s more foundation than landscape, but it lets his vocals (both sung and rapped) shine. The same can be said for “Brothers,” where Cudi, King Chip and A$AP Rocky trade off barbed verses over some erratic, monotonous production. Maybe this is the point, to let the lyrics – which seldom explore further than Cudi’s usual blend of depression, nihilism, and warped confidence – speak for themselves. Still, it’s not what fans have come to expect, namely because what marked the brilliance of his first two MOTM installments was the combination of imagery and vocal prowess with the sometimes-expansive, sometimes-pitch-black beats molded around him by producers Emile and Dot Da Genius. The unfortunate absence of outside producers is most felt on “Solo Dolo, Pt. II,” a sequel to the standout from Cudi’s debut. The idea and intention here are great, but leaving out the original’s producer, Emile, results in a missed opportunity. The beat’s spooky, over-the-top, and skippable.

What Indicud lacks in production value, it makes up for it in a solid trio of great songs, all impressive for different reasons. “Immortal,” the initially super-catchy third single from the record, becomes an incessantly-repeatable battle cry for independence with time. “Cold Blooded” is a vicious mission statement that’s essentially an amped-up, more direct version of Cruel Summer‘s “Creepers” and “Afterwards,” a nine-minute jam session, is both groovy after-party music and a mind-bendingly dark trip through the recesses of an acid come down. Indicud also contains a few unlikely sleepers like the Too $hort-featuring “Girls” and the space-age instrumental “New York City Rage Fest,” which is sure to soundtrack some upcoming episode of Girls, in which the ladies do a bunch of coke and argue about friendship.

As a whole, Cudi’s version of 2001 is an original and bold project, and the group of collaborators he was able to pull together to create it is impressive. But for every interesting feature – all-girl rock outfit Haim, rap legend RZA, and Michael Bolton (!) – there are just as many appearances from King Chip, Cudi’s long-time collaborator who’s had every chance to succeed but continues to bore. Regardless, this ambitious project doesn’t fall flat, and credit is due to Cudi for continuing to challenge himself post-WZRD, taking on a new skill-set and concept rather than throwing together a collection of identically moody anthems.

If you’re willing to suspend preconceived expectations, Indicud is an album that really does get better with time. Fans should be happy to hear their hero return to form and provide them with a lengthy body of work to pore over until he revisits and completes his Man on the Moon trilogy. —Dan Buyanovsky

  • anon

    terrible review

    • Gio

      meh, not that bad

  • Donnie

    What an awful review, his comments of comparison between Indicud and 2001 were taken completely out of context. To give the lyrics an ‘M’ is simply ridiculous, this should have a re-review by someone who actually takes the album seriously.

    • robbymac

      the lyrics are an ‘L’

  • Mr. Rager

    lol XXL just caught feels from Cudi’s tweet 2 weeks ago: “man XXL always sayin that, they dont know jack shit. THE PEOPLE DECIDE WHOS HOT, NOT XXL!”

  • Always Remember

    Let’s never forget that these are the same guys that gave 2 Chainz “True Realigion” mixtape an “XL” but gave Chip’s “Tell Ya Friends” mixtape and Curren$y’s “Stoned Immaculate” album an “L”…and now this album is added to the “How the fuck do you guys review albums, XXL?” list.

  • http://twitter.com/schrockboy Jordan Schrock

    2 mistakes. “Creeps” should be creepers & ming-bendingly should be Mind-bendingly. Beats deserve at least an L

  • SuperMario7

    The great thing about Cudi is that he’s a mainstream artist who doesn’t do mainstream music. I’m not saying he’s the “best thing ever” because he isn’t, what I mean is he sings but not in the girly neutered way that Drake or all those R n B singers do, it’s more of a growl like a rock singer who’s done 20 years of JD, weed and coke, the raps are not about gold or girls, or having a hard life, it’s mainly about weird shit going on in his head.

    I’ve listened to Indicud and there really aren’t any pop tracks, or obvious hits, Just What I Am is the closest to thing to a mainstream track, there’s no stupid Rihanna, Nicki Minaj feature that we get on almost every single mainstream album these days. I’ve heard the album once and it’s hard to score, I kinda think an L on a first listen that could grow to an XL after a while

    • Aswag

      So valid

    • katoXV

      “the raps are not about gold or girls” He just released a Single called “Girls” with too $hort

      • iscmarkiemark

        I like Cudi a lot. But he got your ass there mario. I thought the same thing tho before I even read this reply

      • Pretty Boy (Phd)

        yeah but his rapping about observing from a distance like on some creep shit. its not obvious from the title, give it another listen.

  • James

    So your telling me that this album is on the same level as Chief Keef’s Finally Rich? Fuck XXL

    • JimPharr

      It’s really not good…

  • pete

    this is an inaccurate report on the album and i hope you feel stupid, god bless you good sir and may your dreams haunt you

  • http://www.facebook.com/TC09a7x Tyler Campbell

    I guess he just listened to the album once and skipped through half the songs… Pressed for a deadline for this or something?

  • Yaggin

    You sir, did a great review. I agree completely. This guys should not have produced his own album. This gets no better than an L

    • aber

      naaaah dude

  • IAmHigh

    This is a work of art ahead of its time, it’s filled with emotion and it expresses a sense of desperation and loneliness. Don’t listen to the haters Cudi and keep doing your thing!

  • YoElz

    horrible revieww so ass…why the fuck is everyone being so unfair …give the nigga a break..he is finally happy doing himmself ..this album was amazing and to me honestly it sounded like pure kid cudi i absolutely loved evey lyric , beat..the album was dope and he made me proud

  • Ray

    you can tell this is an awful review when he said “king chip continues to bore”. lol King chip’s verse on Just What I am is tight. Don’t read this article kids. This is not accurate.

  • http://twitter.com/MattHasTheMusic Matt Tompkins

    Definitely Cudi’s 2nd best album behind MOTM1. The only real question is…is Indicud MUCH worse, or only a little bit worse than Cudder’s debut?

    • iscmarkiemark

      I wouldn’t go that far its really good. Still can’t decide if I like it better than MOTM2 yet. Its only been about a week tho, Time will tell. This review deserved a XL tho

      • http://twitter.com/MattHasTheMusic Matt Tompkins

        I wasn’t a fan of 2 at all so that’s why that is that >_>

  • TooHigh187

    this reviews weak Cudi’s album goes in

  • cam

    c’est bien fait descendre!

  • http://twitter.com/russell_wilson R Wilson

    Damn… Throwin blows at King Chip saying all he does is bore.. Ya’ll fuckin whack. Fuck XXL ya’ll ruined your image on this one

  • CudisLost

    This is a great review. I mean come on Cudi. If he says it is the next Chronic 2001, then we should expect a classic and not an album with mediocre production value. I am a fan but if I am going to hype something up for this long even after WZRD release then I should expect a great replayable album.

    • BlackGuy4260

      Cudi never said it was going to be the next Chronic 2001. He said Indicud is his own version of the Chronic 2001. Meaning all the songs will be written and produced by Cudi.

  • LOL

    XXL you have lost all credibility.

  • Kumar

    Kid Cudi has never had above your head lyrical prowess, but is regarded as very influential because of his “deeper meaning.” I feel his popularity mostly amongst the psychedelia drug crowd, but in terms of rooted hip-hop with ‘flavor’….he’s not that. There are many sub-genres out there, but I feel XXL would only be unbiased when reviewing traditional hip-hop albums, and not alternative ones such as this one. Moral of the story…if your looking for something to blow your mind, start seeking lyricists instead of waiting for trendsetters. You’d be missing out if you let the radio control you.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Keith-Anderson/100001167841893 Keith Anderson

    XXL have given a shit review to almost all the “Good” Albums of 2013 so far… Fuck XXL.

  • GONZ

    I think the Author of this review really only listened to this album just once over rather than multiple times. Which in my opinion is not proper when giving a professional opinion. Cudi’s quote saying this album will be comparison to Dre’s 2001, I believe the Reviewer definitely took this quote out of context and used it against Cudi as well as expecting Cudder’s album to have similar elements as Dr. Dre’s. First of all, Cudi and Dre are two different genres all together. I think what Cudder meant by that quote was that, this album will be like his own 2001. Being that Cudi is the solo producer for this album.As Dre was for 2001.

    Also, to even compare Cudi and Dre in the same lane production wise, is outright bias, Dre has been producing long before the 90′s, your talking 20-30 years of production experience, whereas Cudder has been producing for lets say less than a quarter of that time frame give or take. I think personally the production coming from Cudi was above average considering his experience, and has the potential to be an astounding producer if he keeps up with it.

    Secondly, Originality and quality of lyrics are not lacking either. Cudi has a well respected stature to his name, Coming and remaining as a mainstream artist, but not making commercial music is a hard thing to accomplish. I believe Cudi is one of the most original artist in this music industry today, creating a genre within his own creativity with songs like “Immortal” and “solo dolo pt II” (its ridiculous to even say that track was skippable) if anything Dan Buyanovsky your review for this album is skippable. No one cannot put a name to Cudi’s style of music, other than “unfuckwittable”. You cannot expect this album to be a third MOTM or sound like the first. As with any artist you expect to see growth not the same style as their debut album, and growth is what I think Cudder accomplished majorly with this album

    Dan Buyanovsky you sir gave the shittiest review i’ve probably ever read. I am not even a die hard Cudi fan. However, next time you review an album take some consideration to the artist and the hard work put into their original material. also, listen to the album more than once, or write about it like you have. YOU SIR ARE A CHOOCH! -GONZ

  • TooHigh187

    Sooooo Lil B’s albums better??? Hell nooo, horrible review

  • meh

    the beats are the best part wtf…

  • http://twitter.com/AJB4 Andrew

    review Andy Mineo’s album “Heroes For Sale”

  • Shawty J

    This review is pretty weak.

    That being said, I do feel the production was the album’s weak point. You can tell Cudi is still getting a feel for production. Certain songs, like the opener, have a little too much going on at one time and makes the music feel like noise. While other songs, the beat doesn’t do enough to draw you in. Surprisingly, “Afterwards” which due to it’s length and minimalist vocals relies heavily on production, is one of the best records on the album.

    I think his production will be better on his upcoming projects, but I’d still like to see him work with some other producers.

  • 2012Industry1

    The thing about Cudi’s new album is that it sounds like an actual album! It takes you to a place and all the songs connect. I thought it was his best since his first. There’s some mediocre songs, but overall it’s a great album. I think XXL really missed the mark on this one. It’s so good, I can’t believe i’m at the end when the last track plays. Very cohesive record. Deserved an XL.

  • Oz

    woo L this mag is done in hip hop so irrelivant reminds me of the sauce in decline your reviews are so disconnected from music L? and you give wack shit XL no wonder complex has taken your spot if they start doing reviews your really done just pray they don’t by the way this album is XXL

  • tommy

    How did Lil B get a higher rating than this!?!?!?!?

    • gagagagaga

      Lil B is the greatest artist to ever live… thats how

  • static

    I was really, really excited for Indicud, and I had high expectations, in the sense that I thought it would be very good. I had no expectations about how the album would sound because I figured it would be something different. And it was. Which is why this album scored an XL in the originality category. But as an album, from start to finish (and yes, even after multiple plays all the way through), it is not strong. The lyrics of Cudi are, generally, mediocre. The beats, while I have full respect for Cudi’s ambitions, are not strong either. For the sake of artistry and exploration, I would have given beats an L and lyrics an M, but I think this review is spot on. All respect to those who love or like this album. Personally, however, I don’t see how one could. But to each his own.

  • brizzy

    he said king chip bores?? smh that nigga started an internet meme! King Chip goes in. Fuck NMB n xxl

  • Josh

    They give it a 4/5 for originality, then go on to talk about how different it is from anything else out there?

  • calinative

    this album should of been rated “XL” just off originality alone…. That is all!

  • Sneakerfreak

    I am a Cudi fan and agree this is an L – It was brave to take on his own production and I respect it BUT this is an album not a mix tape.

    Mr Mescudi really needed 2 or 3 songs that he could make the record label happy with. A Track like Revo, Pursuit of Happiness or Day N Nite is what we needed to see!

    I also agree that Solo Dolo Pt II fell short of what I expected, infact the whole album does well to fall short of my expectations. This doesn’t mean I don’t like the album but think some of these tracks should’ve been used on a mixtape and a strong producer should have came in to give us some songs that we can bump loud and sing along too.

    After listening through the album 8-9 times, I think an L is a fair review.

  • Rick Mock

    As much as it pains me, I have to agree with the L status. I’m a huge Cudder fan, but I think this album wasn’t nearly as remarkable as it could’ve been – not because the album isn’t good, but because it doesn’t quite live up to the high standard we’ve come to expect from Cudi. Don’t get me wrong I wasn’t expecting or even looking for a MONTM replica and definitely appreciate the evolution he’s made, but I think it was perhaps a bit too ambitious to tackle the entire album’s production on his first outing as a producer. I think he’s strongest work as a producer is on “Immortal”, “Brothers”, “Just What I am” and “Young Lady”. I think some help from Dot and Emile could’ve made this his strongest work yet. His originality is still unparalled and that continues to impress me.

  • xxl=joke

    i don’t take xxl serious anymore…they gave wolf an l for christ sake and they gave lil b’s mixtape an xl. i like lil b but you and i know he shouldn’t have gotten an xl….

  • Daniel

    I dont understand how the beats only got a Medium rating. Three of the 18 tracks alone are just straight instrumentals showcasing Cudi’s beat making ability. The whole atmosphere of the album is very original and not like most rap albums. In my opinion I believe it should of been given an XL rating.

  • Jay Deluca

    dis album is good wrth my $. I can actually leave and let it play. member he”s a artist#23hoopdr3@mz

  • toddleyballsack

    My biggest problem was the theme of the lyrics. Yes he covers the same “depression, nihilism, and warped confidence”, but on his first two albums he did so with much more vulnerability and introspectiveness. So while he used to explain his dreams and fears, on this album, perhaps in an attempt to convince himself he is past these issues, he simply refers to them without expressing them. For instance he makes a song called “Lord of the Sad and Lonely” where he just shows off the entire song. I’m not buying this fixed cudi. If he was reformed he’d find ways to make good music about other real things, not just talk about how he’s good now. Maybe he’s just rationalizing jumping back into drugs. Clearly he quit for a reason if he gave up his favorite thing, so him falling back into it. The beats were obviously worse but new york city rage fest shows he’s got an ear for beats

  • YO=o==yo

    Not his best but still incredible. That’s how uniquely talented Cudi is. He is his own genre for Christ sake! People these days just have the shittiest taste in music. Just What I Am and King Wizard are two of the best hip-hop songs of the year… plus immortal, young lady, brothers, cold blooded, lord of the sad and lonely and unfuckwittable are all dope ass songs. Real Scott fans appreciate the complexity and unlimited possibilities of his music

  • thevoyce

    Lol y’all niggas is fucking buggin!!

  • Beau

    listening to the album now for the first time, loving it!