Kid Cudi’s ‘INSANO’ is a step down from his usual standard

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First and foremost, Kid Cudi is a creative. He transformed the hip hop genre with his trilogy of “Man on the Moon” albums, mixing alternative and electronic sounds in popular songs like “Pursuit of Happiness” and “Day ‘N’ Nite.” He released his first clothing brand last year and has launched an acting career, appearing in the horror film “X” last year.

This versatility between artistic mediums has always benefited Cudi’s music. But his latest album “INSANO” neglects his genre-bending talents, differing to a bland trap project that is eerily similar to the rest of mainstream hip-hop.

“INSANO,” Cudi’s ninth studio album, was released last Friday and boasts a 21-song tracklist with A-list features such as A$AP Rocky, Travis Scott, Pharrell Williams and the late XXXTentacion. Cudi transitions from his classic meditative beats to trap in “INSANO.” This album is more lighthearted than his previous projects, depending on mainstream formulas such as partying, sex and money. But the album leaves many expectations much to be desired.

The album kicks off with “OFTEN I HAVE THESE DREAMZ,” featuring DJ Drama’s easily recognizable beats. Drama is a game-changer for modern hip-hop. He changed the culture of hip hop with his music, and has now turned back to producing.

Lyrically, Cudi abandons his deep-hitting and relatable lyrics on the first track, replacing them with top 40-esque wording.

“Walkin’ a little bit, leanin’ The truth is all that tequila, he rose, Can’t nobody seem to be him, Confident bossin’, wavy, I’m drivin’ the ladies crazy (Yeah), He rip it again, ah, man, dawg, they all mad, Ah, it’s little, little, Tokyo from Paris, damn.”

Cudi abandons his previous messages about fame in the line “Can’t nobody seem to be him.” Cudi talks about the untouchable aspect of fame in a more positive way than he has in the past. In the 2021 documentary, “A Man Named Scott,” Cudi talked about his complex and painful relationship with fame.

“People look up to me, but I’m not a happy person. I felt like a fraud. That’s what drove me to escape from reality,” Cudi said in the documentary. “I sacrificed the privacy of my life and put my story out there to help others. That’s always been my mission. I’m not done yet.”

Apart from his goal of using his music to help others, “KEEP BOUNCIN’,” another track on “INSANO,” is an example of Cudi regressing to genre classics instead of pursuing his usual style. The trap genre characteristics of hit drums are heavily present on the track with lyrics about running from the police complete with more references to drugs and money.

“INSANO”’s “HIT THE STREETZ IN MY NIKES” track keeps the trap style beat while finally incorporating a small amount of Cudi’s familiar, classic lyricism.

“Things I need (Yeah), Love and lots of weed, huh (Yuh), In this lucid dream (Trippy, trippy), ‘Til there’s one just small caveat (Yeah), She said, “Come show me, boy” (I say that), Live what you imagine, Ma’, Say what you need from me (Yeah), yeah, I got you, aight, Ma’ (Yuh).”

While there’s some minimal referencing of lucid dreams, love and weed — Cudi classics — the lyricism continues the shallow repetitive route of other popular rappers.

On a completely different note than the rest of the album, “X & CUD” goes back to Cudi’s passion for helping others with his music. The track samples from the song “Orlando” by XXXTentacion. The song allows both musicians to discuss their relationships with pain and death.

“Mind is the maze thinkin’ ’bout what I can’t change, Devil’s on my head and I don’t want to worry my friends, They told me, “Say somethin’,” don’t think they’d understand, Momma truly gets when my daddy left, the wound, it ain’t mend, Livin’ out a life surrounded by lies, I try, I know, Sayin’ goodbye, but you’re stuck in my mind, the sun done went away, oh,” Cudi raps.

Cudi grapples with his fears as an artist and human who fears the loss of his friends. He reminisces about the passing of XXXTentacion with lines like “I know sayin’ goodbye, but you’re stuck in my mind,” referencing his death.

The tracks provide little continuity to the project as a whole. The album switches abruptly from Cudi’s classic style of dreamlike soundscapes and meaningful bars, randomly bringing in themes of mainstream hip-hop.

“INSANO,” by Cudi is a letdown for fans due to its lack of the longtime rapper’s typical content. With a transition from unique sounds to classic trap and a shallower message, the album leaves much to be desired.

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