By Sean Gallagher,
“Man on the Moon III: The Chosen” is a return to music artist Kid Cudi’s most critically acclaimed trilogy.
The Cleveland MC pioneered the subgenre of emo rap and changed the sound of hip hop with his 2009 release of Man on the Moon: The End of Day. In 2010 he followed up with the sequel Man on the Moon II: The Legend of Mr. Rager. Both albums were genre-bending. Cudi’s most recent release Man on the Moon III: The Chosen completes the trilogy.
Like previous Man on the Moon projects, the album is divided into different acts — Act 1: Return 2 Madness, Act 2: The Rager, The Menace, Act 3: Heart of Rose Gold and Act 4: Powers.
In past bodies of work, Cudi was recognized for his openness in emotions and blend of hip hop, EDM and rock, rather than his rapping ability. However, it’s clear immediately from the first tracks that Cudi is trying to prove himself as a rapper and lyricist on this album.
Cudi raps on trap beats that sound like something an artist like Travis Scott would rap on. The problem is that songs like “Damaged” and “Heaven on Earth” sound like covers of Scott songs that Scott would flow better on.
Cudi may have been the influence for this style of rap and for Scott. Unfortunately, he seems to impersonate the artists he’s influenced rather than adding his signature personality to the tracks.
There are a few exceptions like “She Knows This,” “Show Out” and “Another Day” where Cudi’s more spaced-out flow works, but the first half of the album didn’t work.
However, “Mr. Solo Dolo III” changes the album rating. He brings back the signature Man on the Moon style with this song and carries it out through the rest of the album. Tracks like “The Void” and “Lovin’ Me” feature some of the best vocal performances Cudi has ever released.
The features on the second half are extremely well-placed. Phoebe Bridgers gives a great performance and harmonizes well with Cudi on “Lovin’ Me.” On “Rockstar Knights,” Trippie Redd is at his best, providing a great chorus as he reflects on the loss of his peers and the cost of being a “rockstar.” Cudi’s verse on “Rockstar Knights” may be one of his best rapping performances ever.
This album has some issues, primarily at the beginning, but is overall an excellent album. As always, the production is genre-bending and Cudi gives some of his best performances.
For me, Man on the Moon III: The Chosen is an 8.8/10.