New York, NY -- Hip-hop has been undergoing a tectonic shift as of late, and, if there's one artist who epitomizes the direction in which the game is headed, it's
. While there is still a market for hard-nosed gangsterism—which seems to be the immovable rock at rap's center—artists like CuDi are testament to the genre's malleability. Though he strikes a similar balance between intelligence and entertainment as
have in the past, CuDi fits no more neatly into the “conscious rap” box than into the mainstream. So, what kind of artist
Though CuDi was not present at Wednesday evening's
Man in the Moon: The End of Day
listening session, an audience of roughly 40 industry tastemakers nonetheless headed down to NYC's meatpacking district in hopes of gaining insight into that very question. No cell phones, PDAs, recording devices, or cameras were allowed inside the private event, held at the posh Club Griffin. After a short intro, those present had the opportunity to hear the emcee's debut LP played in its entirety.
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With lyrics that are once self-effacing and boastful, Cudi embodies the modern day zeitgeist of sensitive machismo—the man who is man enough to admit that he is lonely or afraid or different. On the forthcoming album, set to hit stores September 15th, CuDi's expressive style is accented by a fittingly eclectic array of guest features, including
Chip the Ripper
, as well as frequent collaborators Kanye West and Common.
Man on the Moon: The End of Day
rises and falls with the grace and intention of an epic symphonic work, and the album's division into five acts adds to its theatrical feel. First, the album relaxes, laying a foundation of drawn-out drum lines and heavy bass. CuDi's rhythmic vocals are complemented by melodic guitar, piano, and string arrangements. The second half of the album (acts 4 and 5) showcases the artist’s ability to infuse hard-hitting beats with the witticism, creativity, and playful ingenuity that has made him so successful to date.
The album is unique. The beats are expansive and heavily-produced, yet the emcee manages to rein in their larger-than-life aspects and make them his own. Though the event's attendees left without with a clear answer to the question posed above, one thing was clear: listeners who choose to accompany Kid CuDi on his lunar voyage are in for a wild—and rewarding—ride.