Kid Cudi’s ‘Man on the Moon II’ crash-lands

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Kid Cudi's "Man on the Moon II: The Legend of Mr. Rager" is sub-par to first efforts. Photo via Universal Motown.

Last month, during an appearance on MTV News’ Extended Play, hip-hop artist Kid Cudi said, “I’m just over rapping. I don’t get any fulfillment out of it anymore.”

Unfortunately, it shows in his new album as he wades through 17 tracks that mostly just echo his former triumphs.

The album itself, “Man on the Moon II: The Legend of Mr. Rager,” simultaneously lives up to its name and contradicts it. It is spacey. It does not do much raging.

For most of the album, meandering wordplay illustrates the mystical content of Cudi’s cranium — typical of his style and reminiscent of his last album, the successful debut “Man on the Moon: The End of Day.”

But while a repeated formula should logically yield the same results, this sequel album lacks its predecessor’s enthusiasm and overplays its strengths.

Cudi’s ability to weave emotional introspect into his rhymes earned him his stripes in the world of hip-hop, but on this album, an overload of depressive thoughts clutters his musical catharsis. Instead of providing a window into his contorted psyche with crafty metaphors and whimsical allusions, Cudi obscures the entrance by spilling lyrics that only he understands.

In “Trapped in My Mind,” one of the album’s blandest tracks, Cudi ambles around without any particular purpose, singing vapid lyrics like, “When you think of the world / I know it’s crazy / Hey, I’m not that bad at all.”

This brings up another disappointing aspect of the album – the singing. The man on the moon himself sings on nearly every track on the album.

Though his vocals certainly surpass Kanye West’s miserable auto-tuned warbling, the time spent singing on the album subtracts from the amount of time Cudi should devote to his bread and butter – rapping.

Cudi’s lackadaisical and haphazard approach to rap often works in his favor, using the unsystematic to lure listeners in with atypical harmonies and dreamy vocal acoustics.

But the deliberate lethargy found on Cudi’s debut does not resonate on his new album. Instead, it comes off as monotonous, dry and lazy, leaving the listener bored and longing for a change-up that doesn’t arrive.

Apparently, Cudi’s marketing team sensed this — or else there would be no need to include the radio-friendly and trite “Erase Me,” which immediately stands out as a catchy aberration to the harder-to-digest tracks.

Replete with pop-inspired hooks, alternative rock accompaniments and verses by Kanye West, “Erase Me” has been promoted as “Man on the Moon II’s” first single — after all, Cudi has to make paper and attempt to stay relevant in the pop charts somehow.

There are also a few other tracks that defy the album’s trend, like “Scott Mescudi vs. the World” and “These Worries,” which show off Cudi’s cunning prose and captivating rhythms. The most effective by far is “MANIAC,” a dark but appealing tune complemented by the feverish repetition of the words “Paint the black hole blacker” by indie pop star St. Vincent and the dextrous execution of verse by rapper Cage.

Although Cudi’s sophomore effort doesn’t exceed or even equal his first, and probably won’t be a slam dunk in the pop music scene, it does contain enough trippy rap tracks to satiate his fans after multiple listens.

If Cudi really is “just over rapping,” at least he ended as a legend.

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