A look at Kid Cudi’s ‘Man on The Moon’
This is an old paper of mine where I look at Kid Cudi’s ‘Man on The Moon’ album. Originally for academia.
Kid Cudi’s album Man on the Moon: The End of Day is perhaps the single album with the greatest reference or illusion to marijuana I have ever listened to. Kid Cudi said in an interview about the album with Black Book Magazine that “each song is a message. All the hooks are stadium-worthy, crowd sing-along, powerful joints that I can’t wait for people to hear in stadium magnitude. My album definitely needs to be heard loudly, but it’s also a great album if you’re smoking and you need to go to sleep. So far I have the lineup of how I want the first seven tracks on my album and if I play the first seven from the beginning to the end, I’m zoned out and it’s the best trip ever. You need to be high to appreciate the instrumentation and how everything is put together on the album—but you don’t have to be high just to enjoy it in general.” That having been noted, Cudi winds lyrics around the idea that life is better perhaps if lived as a dream.
To Cudi, it seems, drugs are a method of escape, “I've got some issues that nobody can see… … So now I’m in the cut, alcohol in the wound My hearts an open sore that I hope heals soon…” In almost every song there are two overwhelming emotions exerting from the album. It seems that we are following a man through his dreams, where, somehow, he winds up on the moon. He contemplates his life, his failures, and how “success” (whatever that might be defined as) can be reached. Dark, moody tracks abound on this album, centering around “Day n Nite”, placed in the middle of the album. The album is by no means a happy or upbeat work. In fact, Cudi made the remark that at one point, livelier songs had to be added so that listeners didn't think they were listening to a “slit-your-wrists album”.
The album is separated into five acts; Act I: The End of Day, Act II: Rise of the Night Terrors, Act III: Taking a Trip, Act IV: Stuck, and Act V: A New Beginning. My own interpretation is that the piece could take place overnight. Perhaps beginning with Act I around midnight and continuing into the other acts through the early morning hours, with Act V representing the dawn.
“Solo Dolo” from Act II, is perhaps the most brilliantly simple song on the album. Subtitled only as “The Nightmare” we get a glimpse into Cudi’s (and humanity’s) biggest frustration; a veritable living nightmare. He begins the track by explaining his awful situation;
I don’t have nobody,
But what I might feel all the sounds of sanity,
Hoping what I hear, loops itself continuously,
Then I won’t be afraid…”
He addresses the common but altogether grossly complex nature of the very minds with which we base everything on. Arguing that he has no one but the sounds of sanity around him, his desire is for these sounds to continue in an effort to convince himself of his own sanity. Everyone knows the lonely night where thoughts invade and all but takeover to the point where sanity, direction, and purpose all become subjective moments in the fleeting glimpse of our own reality. Cudi continues arguing with himself and the listener with half-verse toward the beginning of the song;
“Am I, someone whom,
you may love, or enemy,
Am I speaking for, you and yours,
or someone else I need some answers…”
Asking a common human question of what his own worth is before his fellow humans and all but demanding an answer, he echoes these words with a deep resonance that slings itself on the very soul of the listener. His voice monotone, he indicates sleep, but there is a certain terrified nature to this song that is explained by little else than these haunting thoughts he etches on the mind of the listener.
“Day n Nite” (as previously mentioned) is a kind of focal point for the album. Before the track, we see lyrics that contemplate and frustrate the listener with concepts such as the futility of the human condition and the usefulness of, well, everything. After “Day n Nite” the listener is transported to a far different emotion conveyance, namely, vitality as well as concepts such as the value of things learned and a renewed sense of worth from the smallest of things. While still veiled in the haze of a world perceived through the influence of drugs (“Enter Galactic (Love Connection: Part 1) is supposedly about a time when Cudi took mushrooms with a girlfriend and listened to The Postal Service) the songs are upbeat, pop-ish, and good natured. On more than one occasion, I put the album on, and found myself marveling at the vast contrast between the two “halves” of the album. Quite literally, the contrast is so stark that the songs almost sound like different albums.
As far as cultural significance, the album undoubtedly speaks to the “stoner” mentality. Marijuana usage, and drugs in general, are a constant theme throughout the work. The hook of the platinum single “Day n Nite” insists that “the lonely stoner seems to free his mind at night.” The conclusion we can draw from this album is that the reality of life is a harsh beast with which every human grapples on a variety of levels in which they themselves define. In Cudi’s case, however, the whole human condition is made “escapable” and altogether bearable through drugs, and a pursuit of a life’s goal. What that goal is, we never see clearer than these concepts of fame, fortune, and one’s own self-loathing, or lack thereof. The album tells a dramatic story of a nightmare, and how it is really not as bad as it might seem when taken with certain societal “pain relievers” such as marijuana, and an interest in one’s fellow humans, perhaps only as far as that interest happens to concern one’s self. To Cudi, happiness is a fleeting moment that can be found in such moments as in “Day n Nite” where a stoner can find his peace in the night.
Were life in fact as gloomy as the first part of Cudi’s album, (the “Nightmare”) it would indeed be grossly depressing. But (in Cudi’s case) through drugs, and further levels of a conscious reality, we’re see that by the end of the album that it is perhaps not as bad as the first part of the album might allude to, or at the very least, is paralleled by a variety of emotions from a variety of influences that humans can experience.