Music Review: “WZRD”

Music Critic and Music Critic

Grade: D+

Over the past couple of years, Kid Cudi has become one of the most popular young rappers in the game.

With his first two “Man on the Moon” albums, he has built a core fan base with his melodic hooks, lush production and emotional tales of his personal struggles often involving sex, drugs and nightmares.

Those expecting the same old Kid Cudi on his first album with production partner Dot da Genius (“Day N Night”) as the experimental rock-rap band WZRD, are going to be sorely disappointed.

Although WZRD’s self-titled debut album is billed as a rock album, I am hesitant to call it such as it has little-to-no live percussion.

We’ve seen rappers take a shot at the “rock” album before, and watched it crash and burn (see: Lil Wayne’s “Rebirth”). And “WZRD” can be added to said list, as it is clearly a failed experiment and should’ve been released as a free mix tape or not at all.

Kid Cudi’s guitar playing is sloppy and extremely amateurish, and if he sounds like he started playing guitar a year and a half ago (with no professional lessons), then it probably means he did.

A rock album doesn’t seem like it would be such a bad idea for Cudi, who always had a skill for creating intoxicating melodies, and I doubt anyone really misses his rambling, monosyllabic rhyme schemes. But on the quasi-heavy “High Off Life” Cudi’s vocals during the chorus is one of the most unlistenable things I’ve heard in a while.

Cudi’s singing for the most part is on par with the singing on his previous albums — not necessarily good, but unique and for the most part enjoyable. But what really hinders the album is the awful production. Not all the blame can be put on Dot da Genius, because it’s hard to craft a good beat with Cudi’s guitar playing like on tracks like “Live & Learn” and “Brake.”

Cudi tries out an acoustic guitar on “Efflictim,” and it’s a pretty decent track despite his sloppy strumming. But there is nothing forgivable about “Dr. Pill,” which is easily the worst thing Cudi has ever recorded. Everything down to the heavily distorted guitar (which somehow manages to sound soft in the mix), to obnoxious snare drum, to Cudi’s weird growling sounds he sings during the chorus is just a nightmare.

While most of the album is a complete mess, there are some decent tracks, and to the surprise of no one, the good songs are more electro-influenced rather than rock inspired. “Love Hard” starts off as another one of Cudi’s messy rock tracks, but about half way through there is a nice little breakdown, and it sounds like a house-inspired track; it is one of the few bright spots on “WZRD.”

Lead single, “Teleport 2 Me, Jamie” is vintage Cudi, and is one of the album’s best tracks (again: sans guitar).

While it may not be good, one of the most interesting moments on the album is the cover of the traditional folk song (made popular by Lead Belly and later Nirvana) “Where Did You Sleep Last Night?” This track would’ve been more interesting had Cudi decided to flip it into something like his normal stuff, rather than sounding like a crappy cover band.

All in all, “WZRD” is a bad album. There’s no getting around it.

Yes, it’s commendable that Cudi didn’t just make another “Man on the Moon” album, and tried something different. But ultimately it failed because he never took the time to work on his guitar playing.