What Planet Is This? – On Cee Lo Green’s The Lady Killer and Kid Cudi’s Man on the Moon II

Alright kids, there are a few things I need to do here before we get into the tofu scramble and potatoes of these albums. I need a chaperon.  Seriously. There was absolutely no need for me to purchase these two albums while I was out and about in New Mexico a while back. Seriously. I could have waited till I got home, saved myself at least two dollars, two dollars my unemployed ass is going to need on down the line, and you know not tortured myself over these fuckers. Seriously, I don’t even like Kid Cudi that much. He had one good song on his first album and came out with some really dumb, sexist, lame bullshit after that. Why the fuck am I buying his follow-up album? There are other, way more worthy artists that deserve my unemployed money.

The other thing I want to do is not mention “Kanye West” in this damn post, aside from this paragraph. K-Dubs is complicating my life right now and I feel his influence is fucking up two perfectly good artists, Kid Cudi being one of them (Common being the other who has run afoul with shitty albums and the addition of sexist bullshit in his lyrics). Further, I think that perhaps K-Dub is having a really bizarre effect on culture. I think he’s too sensitive to be famous and filled with too much ego to have any real ability to self-analyze. Dude can produce the fuck out of some songs, but I wish he would keep his fucking mouth shut, because frankly he is tiring and uninteresting and consuming too much of the public spotlight, especially where hip hop is concerned. This post may not be the most appropriate place for this rant, but this is where it’s coming out. Dude is directly related to Kid Cudi and I have no intention of buying his new album with fucked up artwork (it’s not the “black monster fucking white woman” part that bothers me, it’s the fact that hip-hop, even in this commercial emo form, still insists on selling itself with total sexism, something we will get into in a minute here).

Anyway…lets get into why you are here, what you have been holding your breath for, the hype if you will…

Cee Lo Green
The Lady Killer

Look here dudes, Cee Lo Green is a true a talent as there ever was. He’s the rare cross-breed of entertainer and artists, combining the best of two worlds of creativity and pop sensibilities. Never mind that the dude has some serious pipes that have not let up over a very long, critically acclaimed career. When the lead single for this album, “Fuck You,” dropped in August I was stoked. There is not a better vocalist that has come of age in this new millennium like Cee Lo Green. That first Gnarls Barkley is off the hook and as shaky as the second one was, you can’t say that Cee Lo Green did not put his all into his performance. Did I mention the man can sing, because he can.

And that, I am finding is what makes The Lady Killer so awesome. Cee Lo Green’s voice is front and center on this album and it laid over some seriously smooth, uptempo, funky as all hell Rhythm and Blues in the truest sense of the genre. You get 70’s funk beats mixed with 80’s vocal effects, you get some Marvin Gaye type shit and you get straight up Cee Lo Green outer-space shit.

When “Fuck You” dropped, the non-commercial lyrics could not contain this summer jam from blowing everyone’s shit out. The song pretty much has the instant classic feeling of freshness and nostalgia rolled into one. The curse word refrain that is pretty central to the entire lyrical context of the song does not take away from the strength of the track. In fact, it makes the song, because it’s so sugary sweet and groove driven, that the coarse language makes it a bit dangerous. Amazingly though, this is the most upfront track on the album. Mostly we get a really sensual, emotional performance. “Fool For You” is some straight up seventies soul music man. Chick-Chack guitars over lightly played boom-bap drums is swanky as fuck and Cee Lo just rips his tormented love jam. Album closer “No One’s Gonna Love You” is such a subtle and yet rich track to mellow out to, but Cee Lo’s strong pipes give such a fantastic punch to the song.

The Lady Killer has the emotional punch of “Just a Thought,” the heavy jam from St. Elsewhere that Gnarls Barkley dropped a few months. But luckily for us, Cee Lo is in such a better place, where his raspy, drained delivery then was deep, now he does all the work with a bravado and big voice. Sure, there’s a lot of brooding over ladies and love gone awry with The Lady Killer. This is the kind of album that dude was born to make. As crazy as Gnarles Barkley is, and even as great a combination as Green and Dangermouse make, The Lady Killer means that Cee-Lo doesn’t have to compromise. He is the superstar on this album, and it’s a welcomed addition. Sure I could have done with a little more classic Cee-Lo a’ la “Neuromancer” or even “Crooked Booty” from his Goodie Mob/Dungeon Family days. But this is a side of Cee-Lo that the populace deserves. The Lady Killer is some next level shit and people need to recognize.

Kid Cudi
Man on the Moon II: The Legend of Mr. Rager

Oh, where to begin with this mess of an album. Let’s start with the positives. Kid Cudi has a fascinating musical ear. In his quest to “show the world new colors and scenes” through the art of music, Cudi does a pretty phenomenal job. I think that’s what keeps me coming back. Dude is really, really close to some next level shit. I mean, his whinny, boring, continual evokation of the woe is me character in “Don’t Play This Song” bores the shit out of me, but the track has some fucked up pin pricks in it. Dare I say, there are elements of it that remind me of EL-P. The damaged coda of “We Aite” is some other planetary shit. You don’t need to be as fucking drug obsessed as Cudi to be taken to another place.

And so, we have this really great music, a far step up from the beginning of this series, Man on the Moon: The End of the Day and that would be all fine and dandy if the lyrics weren’t so pathetic. There is a lack of poetry and universal anguish that Cudi lacks when he gets on the mic. His voice isn’t the strongest, but that doesn’t even detract from the stupidity of “Marijuana” a love song to a fucking plant. Like pop culture needs another tribute to pot. Even when the music invokes the far out sounds of Pink Floyd, it’s the lyrics that really irk my damn nerves. Kid Cudi is a sad bastard, clearly not interested in partying. This is a chill out album, not a fist pounder. He never really gets off the couch. And that would be okay, but I just have a real hard time feeling sorry for him.

The clincher for me though, the real reason I am pissed I actually spent my hard-earned money is the inside cover. The outside cover is actually amazing and beautiful. It features a mournful Cudi, seated in front of a scene of space. It’s the kind of photo I wish I had taken and almost makes me want to get the album on LP just to have the awesome art work. But you flip open the CD and what do we find on the inside pannel? A pissy Cudi, drink in hand, seated on a couch, seemingly back stage surrounded by four naked women. Now, I get what you’re trying to do Cudi. You’re sad, your mad at the world, you’re not down with the scene and even when the hot chicks are throwing themselves at you, your too angry to bother with them. I know this isn’t supposed to be about the naked groupies, but why dude is this part of your lexicon. You pissed me off with “Poker Face,” that out-of-place track on your debut about fucking groupies, but now this shit just proves you are man-child. For that one, I want my $9.99 back dude.

If dude actually put some thought into what he was doing instead of just creating a narrative through self-deprecation and drugs, maybe he could be on some other world shit. Clearly someone in your camp is tapped into the real shit. “Maniac” proves this. Probably the strongest track Cudi has ever dropped, he’s got Def Jux alum Cage dropping a verse and he samples St. Vincent to great affect. In fact it’s Cage that dude should take his cues from, rather than the industry, because that kid raps about desperation and depression and pain like no one else. “Maniac” validates my rants (at least to myself) because it’s at the level the entire album should be about and feels the most comfortable.

I do like Cudi when he’s at his best, not being so pathetic and thinking about what the hell he’s doing. He makes some really dark, dense and beautiful music. He understands the limitations of his voice and uses those nuances really well. He continues to show that he has the capability for delivering some really great, consistent performances, but this dude needs to seriously grow up, realize that it’s not all about him, and put shit in a context that is more personable and less personal. We all have our demons, trials, laziness and self-doubt dude. And there are ways to talk about that, but the drugs, the whoring around, the sexist imagery, that shit is over-hyped and idiotic. I want to get there with you dude, I really, truly do, but you’re not helping your cause.


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