Text

"Indicud" Dominant: Kid Cudi’s newest work incessantly stimulates

“When will I ever learn from the words in my songs?”

This lyric appears in Scott Mescudi’s 2009 track, “Solo Dolo.” At that point in his career, the artist known as Kid Cudi was writing cathartic words and guiding fans through episodes of sadness as Hip-Hop’s “Lonely Stoner.” He connected with human emotion in ways that Hip-Hop artists weren’t expressing prior and garnered a cult-like following. As Mescudi’s fame increased, so did his inherent vulnerabilities, and drug use along with a dark sophomore album followed.

On April 16, Kid Cudi’s fourth album and third solo album, Indicud, hit the shelves. Despite a premature Internet leak and issues getting the album to various stores, the album is expected to maintain significant sales and make mass musical impact.

Why? Because Indicud marks a moment in Scott Mescudi’s musical and personal evolution. The abstract outcast is now the conquering “Lord Of The Sad And Lonely.” Vulnerability has virtually vanquished, mostly because Mescudi now attains free rein as an artist, from lyric to melody to beat to overall production. His entrepreneurial nature has culminated in maximum freedom as well as a self-created music label, Wicked Awesome Records.

Indicud is definitely a state of mind and it’s going to take a strong person mentally to be able to embrace it, and I just hope that all my fans that knew me since day one have grown with me,” Mescudi told Complex Magazine on April 16. “That’s all I ever wanted. I wanted us to all grow and reach a place of peace.”

Mescudi has acquired two types of fans within his cult-like following over the years: The obsessive complainer yearning for the distant sounds of his first album, and the resilient supporter riding emotional waves and searching for peace alongside him. The truest of true fans understand the overcoming of Mescudi’s struggles as an outsider in some way, shape or form.

Cudi has been posting various fan reactions over his Twitter feed since the album leaked, and reactions from both sectors of fans have been apparent. On April 10, he made it clear to his fans that the album supremely touches the latter fan:

“Any one expecting each new release to be like one of my previous albums will never be satisfied,” he said over Twitter. “When u grow, some people get left behind.”

That growth is apparent in both the lyrics and production of Indicud. The album is a blend of his previous works, intertwining the melodies heard in Man On The Moon: The End Of Day, epically expediting the dark tones of Man On The Moon II: The Legend Of Mr. Rager, fusing guitar riffs and progressive rhythms from his Rock project, WZRD, and features quick-witted raps from his mixtape days.

Indicud immediately commences with a dark yet epic intro lasting nearly three minutes, and fades into a quote by Macaulay Culkin in the film “The Good Son.”

"Once you realize you can do anything, you’re free… you could fly."

The album truly feels like it takes off from there, bringing you into an entrancing track similar in sound to Cudi’s WZRD project titled “Unf*ckwittable.” Mescudi’s confidence shines in the chorus and escalates as the album progresses.

Singles “Just What I Am,” “Girls” and “Immortal” show that confidence through pure energy and unconventional sounds. “Immortal” serves as the album’s anthem, similar to “Pursuit of Happiness” in his first album and “Mr. Rager” in his second. The production makes the song feel larger than life, and his words reveal the same.

“I got my lion heart and electric flowing through my brain, shocking waves make me feel I can float.”

From this track on, Mescudi showcases his new production skills with features from Kendrick Lamar, Too $hort, Haim, RZA, King Chip, A$AP Rocky and Michael Bolton. As the second half of the 18-track album progresses, Mescudi’s liberation transforms into uncommon moments of self-indulgence and flaunting pride.

But it’s not narcissistic. It’s triumphant. It’s inspiring. The incessantly energetic Indicud is an authentic achievement in the pursuit of happiness. For the truest of true Kid Cudi fans, this is what they’ve been waiting for all along.

He has learned from the words in his songs.

Clayton Terry is a student at Sacramento State University majoring in Communications. He writes about sports and music for two websites: hazyperspective.tumblr.com and sportsfanexperience.com. You can follow Clayton on Twitter at twitter.com/lionheartedhaze.

Text

Tyler, the Imaginer

image

 Tyler, the Creator carries one of the most vexing auras in Hip-Hop since Eminem. The April 2 release of his second studio album, WOLF, serves as his best overall work, but the peculiarity has only increased because of it.

Tyler produces, writes and promotes his own music. He is also the undisputed leader of the Hip-Hop collective, Odd Future. His strategy? To do whatever the hell he wants, put it out there, and if people like it, then cool. If not, then screw you.

At this point in his career, it’s worked out brilliantly for the jovial, carefree 20 year-old. He has released one mixtape and one successful album without any help but his own.

Odd Future’s television show, Loiter Squad, is now in its second season. The Odd Future clothing line is inordinately successful. Tyler has also directed several visually appealing music videos and short films, as well as some recent Mountain Dew commercials. So far, success has followed Tyler, the Creator through every step he’s taken, all while acting like a rowdy teenage kid through the process.

WOLF is Tyler’s most lyrically transparent work as well as his most tranquil quality of production – filled with syncopated jazz percussion and friendly piano chords. Prior to WOLF, Tyler had built his reputation over aggressive, sinister instrumentals topped with dark, rebellious lyrics. These aspects pulled a large, niche crowd, but also generated a fair share of controversy. It was the Eminem saga all over again, but instead of making songs about killing his mom and bashing on Christina Aguilera, Tyler made a music video that included him eating a roach, songs bashing Bruno Mars, and showed complete apathy in every public interview (and still does).

What makes Tyler, the Creator so popular? He’s not a conformist. He does whatever he wants and produces results. Renowned artists such as Kid Cudi and Pharrell Williams support him. As music history suggests, the most rebellious artists tend to engender the most influence.

WOLF is no exception to that rule. The entire album feels like a tightened up version of his other works but with more substance. Although expressing himself through serious life aspects isn’t his favorite thing to do as an artist, creativity is. The album flows through the stories of four imaginary people: Wolf, Sam, Slater and Salem.

Wolf is Tyler’s alias, and Sam is immediately depicted in the intro track, “Wolf,” as the Odd Future incumbent prior to Tyler’s arrival to the album. Sam is also introduced as Tyler’s defiant alter ego.

The album’s outset is volatile and upbeat with the songs “Jamba” and “Cowboy.” As the madness fades, Tyler finds himself in boyish interactions with a new girl in “Awkward.” “Answer” serves as the most meaningful and probably best song of the album, as Tyler attempts to communicate with the dad he never met. “Slater” features soothing tones and feels like an important track, but as the song progresses, it’s apparent that “Slater” is simply the name of Tyler’s bike. In the melodic “48,” Sam reemerges as a drug dealer and Tyler slowly begins his leadership transition as well as an apparent relationship with Sam’s girlfriend, Salem, in “PartyIsntOver/Campfire/Bimmer.”

Once Wolf attains supremacy after Sam’s mental breakdown in “IFHY” and deals with an obsessive fan in “Colossus,” Tyler, the Creator goes back to his life of doing whatever he wants. Through it all, he conveys two narratives: a hazy depiction of his life, and an equally hazy description stemming from his creative mind’s eye.

The most carefree kids have the wildest imaginations.

Clayton Terry is a student at Sacramento State University majoring in Communications. He writes about sports and music for two websites: hazyperspective.tumblr.com and sportsfanexperience.com. You can follow Clayton on Twitter at twitter.com/lionheartedhaze.

Text

Justin Timberlake’s Conceptual Comeback

image

 The 20/20 Experience, Justin Timberlake’s first album since 2006, was released March 19 under the impression that it would be “music you can see.”

That assertion, made by a friend of Timberlake’s which inspired the album title, is true to the core. The 20/20 Experience serves as a compilation rich in soul, touched with substance and transports the listener from one mind state to the next. It’s not your typical Pop album. In fact, it’s not totally your typical Justin Timberlake album. It’s a concept album that truly paints a 20/20 picture.

The album’s opening track, “Pusher Love Girl,” sets the 20/20 tone, pushing a bouncing beat surrounded by soulful sonics in its chorus:

“So high I’m on the ceiling baby, so go on and be my dealer baby, ‘cause all I want is you baby.”

As the crescendo fades, the song gradually transports the listener to virtually another version of the song, which is the case for every song on the album. No song is shorter than 5:26 in length, and the longest song eclipses the eight-minute mark. “Pusher Love Girl” sits at 8:02, and at the 4:55 mark, transforms from bubbly and poppy to new-age psychedelic soul sounds:

“My nicotine, my blue dream/My hydroponic, candy jellybean.”

Just about every song takes this approach: two songs in one, meshing 1970s Soul and Funk with new-age Pop, Hip-Hop and psychedelic sounds. The songs are fairly simple lyrically, yet abstract in sound and, as in the abovementioned lyric, contain a litany of drug-induced metaphor beside sexual innuendo.

Drug references manifest throughout the album and seem to appear once a song enters some parallel universe.

The most entrancing song of the album, “Strawberry Bubblegum,” instantly emanates the vibe of being in a futuristic mind state, yet is prominently nostalgic lyrically. Timberlake delves into a prechorus in this song, expressing the flavor of a girl that he hopes never changes – a flavor started when she simply said “Hey” while “smacking that strawberry bubblegum.” The lyrics are simple and catchy, yet the sounds are so rich that the track becomes tantalizing with every listen – sort of like the vision of the girl popping that strawberry bubblegum.

As expected, that portion of the song slows down and a soothing piano number sets in. Contrary to “Pusher Love Girl,” “Strawberry Bubblegum” shifts from futuristic to nostalgic, early 2000s R&B soulfulness saturated in alluring drug/sex metaphor: “You’re delicious on your own/ And when I break you down my fingers are so sweet/ That’s what you told me when I touched on your lips.”

In essence, “Pusher Love Girl” and “Strawberry Bubblegum” encapsulate the album while the remaining tracks fall into place. “Suit & Tie” featuring Jay-Z has already been an instant radio hit despite its non-contemporary sounds in its first portion; “Don’t Hold the Wall” sends the listener to an exotic club/dance atmosphere, and, along with “Tunnel Vision,” exhibits Timbaland’s amazing expertise as Timberlake’s producer. Timberlake continues his dance groove over a Moombahton beat surrounded by horns in “Let the Groove Get In.” The album ends with soothing echoes of love and inner emotion in both “Mirrors” and “Blue Ocean Floor.”

The 20/20 Experience serves as the third popular concept album in the last eight months, joining the abstract Frank Ocean’s channel ORANGE and Kendrick Lamar’s good kid, m.A.A.d city.

As if Justin Timberlake’s comeback wasn’t surprising enough, the comeback of the concept album in this digital age is probably just as impressive.

Clayton Terry is a student at Sacramento State University majoring in Communications. He writes about sports and music for two websites: hazyperspective.tumblr.com and sportsfanexperience.com. You can follow Clayton on Twitter at twitter.com/lionheartedhaze.