Kanye West and Kid Cudi’s Kids See Ghosts is very much a performance of depression. Each rapper has spent time publicly dealing with a mental health crisis within the same time period, with Cudi checking himself into rehab after an online tirade (including at Kanye) for “suicidal thoughts,” and Kanye being checked into a hospital after a “nervous breakdown,” following a series of rants during his “Saint Pablo” tour (some of which were aimed back at Cudi). The aftermath of this experience is fully evident in Kids See Ghosts, a collaboration that alternates from alienation and sadness to melodic tenderness, punkish rap bravado, and triumph in 23 minutes. It’s both embarrassing and gripping: never boring and often euphoric.
Kids See Ghosts’ most impressive feat might be how it gets use out of Kid Cudi’s skill as a musician. An artist with a weakness for self-indulgence, he’s in love with the idea of his music showing off his eclectic taste, when instead it often just shows a lack of creativity. When Cudi is left to his own devices you get the rock album WZRD, or the attempt at serious genre experimentation Speeding Bullet To Heaven. These are albums that have their defenders but teeter between boring and excruciating, not because they’re too weird but because they’re not weird enough. Cudi does most of his best work with Kanye because Kanye knows how to utilize him effectively—in moderation, strategically using his ear for melody and his ability to convey soft vulnerability. Yet Kanye and his team pull off a neat trick with Kids See Ghosts, taking Cudi’s musical strengths and centering the album around them. It makes for a perfect version of a Kid Cudi album, with Cudi taking center stage under the guiding hand of Kanye’s stellar production.
|A1||Feel The Love|
|A4||Freeee (Ghost Town Pt. 2)|
|B2||Kids See Ghosts|