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Kid Cudi has always been a bit of an enigma. Do mainstream music fans, the ones that throw their hands in the air, and wave them carefree-like every time that “Pursuit of Happiness” or one of its million remixes comes on in the club, really get Cudi the way that Sidney Deane got Jimi? If you presented this album to the same bon vivants who so embrace the ethos and chorus of “Mr. Rager” without any information about who made this album, they may not be able to actually discern that Cudi is the same artist. As far as monotone MCs and singers go Cudi is no guru, but he is an artist. Unique, instantly recognizable, and still spitting emotive, personal and emotionally revealing (bordering on disturbed), verses even when his music penetrates the top rankin’ of the club charts.

The soundscape the Cudster creates on Satellite FLIGHT: Return to the Mother Moon may sound like a complete departure from, or a return to, his old sound depending on when you got into this Kid. In actuality it is neither. The Satellite FLIGHT mixtape/album is a flight of fancy that breaks free of the gravitational pull of planet mainstream. A force that would have restrained a more suggestible artist emboldens Cudi to stand alone, cutting his own path through the popular music landscape.

This is not supposed to be a full album, just a intermission of sorts between Indicud and whatever is coming next. There are no discernable hits on this one, the production orbits familiar popular sounds, while infusing a style and emotion distinct from the average collection of club ready bangers one might expect from someone who has had so much success in that arena. Longtime Cudi fans have been calling for a return to more of his beat driven sound, which he provides here with cues from rock and soul hinted at in the WZRD side project, more fully realized on Satellite FLIGHT.

Every time Cudi presents a new album to the world he both expands on and departs from his previous effort. This may seem contradictory until you listen to the lyrics and take the production in as a whole. Where Indicud was a collection of standard hip hop tempo, rap driven, guest heavy tracks, Satellite FLIGHT is a more personal voyage to somewhere darker. Cudi only really raps on one track, “Too Bad I have to Destroy You Now”, well sequenced at the middle of the album, serving as a reminder that the Kid can still kick it. The only guest appearance listed in Raphael Saadiq on “Balmain Jeans” and his singing in the final verse of the track is so well placed you know that this was not some forced guest appearance suggested by an A&R, but two brothers in electro soul who just wanted to work together.

Love him or hate him, you have to respect Cudi for taking chances while staying true to the themes and styles that his oldest supporters first recognized as special when they heard him years ago somewhere in that not-so-intergalactic address known as Ohio. Sit back and listen to this one and appreciate something more and more rare in the music world: an artist both talking to, and listening to, his audience, and in the process treating the world to a front row seat to his evolution.

  Mixtape D.L.
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