Kid Cudi finally stops talking about aliens on Man on the Moon II: The Legend of Mr. Rager, an album where he tries to be less electronic and more hip-hop. But Cudi is true to himself, so he can’t really break the bond he’s made between the two genres. His collaborations have jumped into Grammy territory with Kanye West, Mary J. Blidge, and Cee-Lo—all guests on the album who bring their successful style to Cudi’s world. “Erase Me,” with Kanye West, has a thumping 80’s hair-band drum that comes and goes through a 90’s guitar riff that blows up for a sung chorus. West jumps in for a few rhymes at the end, if only to remind us that he may be a little more self-praising than Kid Cudi himself.
Cudi does stick to rhymes for most of MOM 2, bringing underground vet Cage into the spotlight for “MANIAC,” which samples St. Vincent’s “Strangers” from her 2009 album The Actor. There are a few songs where Cudi continues to wallow in his self-awareness, like “Trapped in My Mind,” where he spews “Now it’s a gift and a curse, since my birth/ I’m in a prison/ Oh I’m happy right where I’m at.” And Cudi should be content where he’s at. After his debut album he was trading guest spots with commercial hip-hop and pop heavies and packing hipster kids into alternative hip-hop shows. A sophomore departure like MOM 2 shouldn’t push fans away, but it may thin his following to the few who enjoy the occasionally confusing lyrics and slow-paced rap of hip hop’s black sheep of the moment.