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Scott Mescudi as Kid Cudi has been pushing boundaries since the launch of his six-year Man on the Moon series, but with last week’s surprise 10-track album, the Cleveland astro-rapper has reached a new altitude of creativity. As he spits on “Too Bad I Have to Destroy You Now,” Cudi is “rejuvenated, recreated, rebooted. And those three words perfectly describe this new frontier. Through the celestial lens of Mescudi’s mind, SATELLITE FLIGHT: The Journey to Mother Moon continues his refashioning of hip-hop with progressive concepts more commonly found in space-rock.

The album’s ten tracks are a cohesive set, especially on the production. It takes us from where Indicud left off and preludes the final, upcoming installment of his Man on the Moon series. Kid Cudi’s outer space set-up has allowed him to develop freely and liberally. His verses are more substantial, and his character is tighter than ever. He is the Moon Man.

The album’s originality lies in its design. Four instrumental tracks divide SATELLITE FLIGHT from the rest of its vocal tracks. It’s a structure that seems to emulate the inner workings of Cudi’s mind: part communicator, part designer.

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The listener can visualize this construction starting from “Destination: Mother Moon,” an epic opening instrumental. Rock-infused beats in “Going to the Ceremony” kick off the lunar expedition and an invasive intensity in the following title track is created by a surreal ambiance. This two-track couplet celebrates a successful launch before another instrumental track, “Copernicus Landing,” transitions Cudi into a more emotional setting.

The second half of the album sees Kid Cudi shift from warrior-like audaciousness to vulnerable sentimentality. Cudi’s sensual vocals and Raphael Sadiq’s soulfulness mesh hypnotically on “Balmain Jeans,” in which Cudi relishes in his deepest desires. But passion can also be passionate hate. “Too Bad I Have to Destroy You Now” finds Mescudi wrestling with fame’s good and evil. To the hostile critics he rhymes, “Pardon my wizard talk, but I’m elevated / No drank, no tree and I’m levitated.” Unfortunately, the futurist defiance doesn’t last very long.

SATELLITE FLIGHT is slightly lacking in Kid Cudi’s signature raspy vocals and poetic raps. This feeling can be found with “Internal Bleeding” and “In My Dreams 2015.” On these tracks, Cudi seems distant and occupied; he is entirely disconnected from his fans and at moments, seems too overwhelmed to be a public persona.

But the accumulated heartache can be medicated with Kid Cudi’s greatest instrumental score to date, “Return of the Moon Man.” A cinematic battle between the menacing, hammering synths and the lofty, drifting guitar melodies on the track end the journey with a bang, after which only a final retreat in the conscience of the “Troubled Boy” remains. This epilogue finds Cudi stepping out of his Moon Man alter-ego and back into the reality of loneliness through bleak vocals and an eerie ring-around guitar riff.

Another stellar production by Kid Cudi, SATELLITE FLIGHT is a risky move that can be hit-or-miss in the rap game, but just right direction for the next installment in the Moon Man series. “Have you ever seen the Earth from this view?” asks the Moon Man. “I bet not.” A new perspective, not a single beat on this journey has gone to waste.

Article by Ning De-Eknamkul

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