KIDS SEE GHOSTS: KIDS SEE GHOSTS Album Review
Both Kanye West and Kid Cudi have dealt with varying mental health issues for years, culminating in West’s bipolar diagnosis reveal in June of 2018 and Cudi’s admittance to rehab in October of 2016. Both artists have been through a lot emotionally over the last few years and even had a short-lived feud leading up to Cudi’s trip to rehab. Despite these problems, Kanye West and Kid Cudi have continued to create and express themselves through their music. They’ve collaborated on many occasions, with highlights being “Erase Me” from Cudi’s Man On The Moon II and “Gorgeous” from West’s My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy. When Kanye reentered the Twitterverse to announce upcoming G.O.O.D Music releases, he dropped a surprise for his fans. He announced that KIDS SEE GHOSTS, West and Cudi’s rap group, would be releasing their self-titled debut a week after West’s solo project Ye. Kanye stuck to his word, and KIDS SEE GHOSTS was released on June 8, 2018. KSG has a lot of solid moments both emotionally and sonically and sees a creative high point for both Kanye and Cudi.
A full-length collaborative project from Kanye West and Kid Cudi has been a long time coming, and the mental health issues each artist has dealt with over the years have only made it more of a no-brainer. KSG is an album that pits Kanye and Cudi against their demons and forces them to understand their issues and grow. The opening track “Feel The Love” features a bombastic performance from Cudi, who chants “I can still feel the love!” throughout the duration of the track. Pusha T opens up the track with bars dedicated to showing other artists that neither Cudi nor Kanye cares about what anyone has to say about them. Kanye takes the track a step further with his abrasive delivery of what can only be described as gun sound effects in the middle and end of the track. KSG opens up with a bang and doesn’t slow down until the last three songs. Each Song sees both Kanye and Cudi accepting their issues and attempting to find ways to deal with them. An underlying theme of the project is that a creative outlet is what helps these artists deal with their issues the most. While these emotional moments hit hard on a majority of the tracks, KSG suffers from the same thematic issues as Kanye’s previously released Ye, in which these emotional moments would have benefitted from a longer album to be fleshed out more. A good amount of the tracks are somewhat surface level when dealing with the emotional issues that each artist struggles with. The best example of KSG’s emotional themes done right is the song “Reborn”, in which Cudi and Kanye fully accept their issues and are essentially reborn into their own skin. Despite some thematic issues, KSG is still a solid representation of these two monumental artists attempting to better themselves.
Production wise, KSG is a healthy mix of chopped up samples, melancholic synthesizers, and plenty of variety and experimentation to make each track feel fresh and inventive. Songs Like “Fire” and “4th Dimension” see Kanye back in the studio chopping up samples, harkening back to his days as The College Dropout. These tracks are mixed in with slower, more melodic tracks such as “Reborn” and “Cudi Montage” that serve for the more introspective portions of the album. “Freeee”, the middle track, sees Kanye and Cudi at their most inventive and subversive. This track has elements of psychedelic rock that was a staple of Cudi’s earlier rock album WZRD. Unlike WZRD, however, “Freeee” is much less abstract and fits well within the confines of the rest of the album. The production is varied and inventive for the duration of the project but doesn’t go too far into the abstract as to scare away casual listeners. KSG benefits from its level of production variety and proves that Kanye and Cudi work best together when they are able to do whatever it is they want to do.
KSG is an intimate look into the struggles Kanye and Cudi have faced over the years set to the tune of beats that don’t shy away from taking risks. While some of the emotional beats would have benefited from more tracks and a longer runtime, the content we’re given is short, sweet and to the point. Neither Kanye nor Cudi waste much time on this album, helping KSG’s short 23-minute runtime really pack a punch. Overall, KSG is a solid project that has its downfalls but shows that both artists are on a creative rise that will soon give way to more collaborative projects in the future. With their next release, KSG has the potential to create a classic collaborative album that takes even more risks but keeps the emotional themes packed tight.
Zach Hall is a senior majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email firstname.lastname@example.org