Long time collaborators Kid Cudi and Kanye West have finally united after 10 years, for a 7-track project, titled KIDS SEE GHOSTS. Let’s take a look at their longer list of one off co-creations (alphabetized):
- All Of The Lights
- Already Home
- Christian Dior Denim Flow
- Cudi The Kid
- Erase Me
- Father Stretch My Hands Part 1.
- Ghost Town (off the one-week prior release ‘ye’)
- G.O.O.D Friday
- Guilt Trip
- The Joy
- The Morning
- Make Her Say
- Welcome To The Heartbreak
- Welcome To The World
Each time they combine their talent, Cudi & Kanye switch roles between songwriter, singer, rapper, composer, multi-instrumentalist and producer to nail a recipe which is everchanging in hip-hop culture. On their latest project, KIDS SEE GHOSTS, Kanye falls comfortably in the role of lead producer, rapper and vocalist which guides the album’s direction and general experimental elements. This experimentation can be heard through the “ratatatat(‘s)” of ‘Feel The Love’ or the purposeful choice of including Louis Prima’s Christmas themed jam on ‘4th Dimension’; which could double as a song found on Fallout Four’s Diamond City Radio. Cudi on the other hand, takes ownership as the lead vocalist/singer guiding the album’s message and personally resonating with its meaning. He speaks of an oxymoronic ‘beautiful madness’ on “Fire” and reiterates his newly found positivity on ‘Reborn’ via soothing lyrics including “keep moving forward”. The chemistry of Cudi & Kanye is though, not opposing despite portraying different characteristics.
They are akin on a variety of topics arising from the album: the mental battles they face daily, the genre they define and expand yearly and free flowing balance of who is the student and who is the master. Firstly, it is well published the nature of their mental health manifestations of these two superstars, which saw Cudi seek out rehabilitation in 2016 as well as Kanye being admitted for psychiatric observation. In a rare period for hip-hop and male culture, these two defy stigmatization of opening up, doing so, very candidly. On the album, they find spiritual and or Christianity related healing methods of turning towards faith in hard times. Simply put, the elongation of letter “e” in the chorus and title of ‘Freeee (Ghost Town Part 2.)’ signifies the conquering of their oppressive/depressive conditions. Together they escape – “I don’t feel pain anymore” – in a song that feels genuine to their progression as flourishing human beings.
The changing of the guard however, may have gone unnoticed. In their own words, Cudi is reborn asking his saviour to “shine your light on me, save me, please” on the track named after him ‘Cudi Montage’. With this added faith in a higher being, Cudi reflects on the ghosts of his past, feeling he is now “stronger than I ever was”. The humming on the chorus is also a nice allusion to the trademark sounds which he is famous for (representing a montage of past success). However, Kanye doesn’t gain the same cathartic resolution. He supports his own decisions in the music industry despite facing highs and lows through the line, “Thought I’d be clever enough to give up while I’m ahead” revealing his persistence to the craft. But ultimately falls on his own sword saying he’s “constantly repenting, cause yes, I never listen” featured on the sixth track named after their project, “Kids See Ghosts”. He strives for spiritual understanding prevalent in the record, yet cannot break the cycle of “competition”, “embellish(ment)” and a generalized social comparison. To nail the point home, even mentioned on the same song, Cudi describes this avoidance of real growth as “running” and ‘he’s sick of it’, well at least personally.
As a childhood fan of both of these artists, I am grateful such an album came to fruition. Now if only Chance The Rapper and Childish Gambino could follow suit, even just for an extended play, I’d be one happy hip-hop head.