This debut collaborative album from Kanye West and Kid Cudi is the project we needed. 'Kids See Ghosts' is as much about the pair of artists finding the strength within each other to overcome their demons as it is about creating an escape, and it feels like a rejuvenation.
'Kids See Ghosts' is the melodic, psychedelic-inspired tracklist that balances the strengths of both Cudi and West. The electronics, crescendos and sampling create the atmosphere of a fever dream, grounded by the conversations happening within the verses.
The duo balances each other out; Cudi as always brings his 'stoner hymns' and Kanye brings his egotistical lyrics. Together, they remove all tension created by the other individually and convey a sense of gentle calm within the whirring synths and electronics.
The project follows suit of the last two Kanye-produced projects of 'Daytona' and 'Ye', by presenting only seven tracks, coming in at under 30 minutes. Unlike 'Ye' however, this album doesn't feel lacking in any sense. The creativity is in full force and the tracks are brimming with high-quality production and introspective exploration.
In the opening track 'Feel The Love', we get a verse from Pusha T and Kanye impersonating a gun that may be second only to a Big Shaq sound. 'Reborn' is very similar to Cudi's earlier work, with a similar bassline that integrates that classic 'stoner sound' synonymous with Cudi's name.
'Freeee (Ghost Town Pt. 2)' is clearly the centrepiece of the album and goes hard, featuring a hook from Ty Dolla $ign. The track delves into the realm of 'boho spiritualism' and plays out like an acid trip. This is the kind of music that Cudi excels at creating; telling a story through abstract sounds and concepts.
'Fire' is a classic duality pairing; Kanye is out to set "fire" to his haters while Cudi is calm and introspective. 'Kids See Ghosts' feels like a cloud - it is all about floating through life and seeking redemption.
'Reborn' shows Kanye accepting some responsibility for his recent actions; "I was off the chain, I was often drained / I was off the meds, I was called insane / What an awesome thing, engulfed in shame / I want all the rain, I want all the pain / I want all the smoke, I want all the blame.” However when Cudi's lines are "Keep movin' forward", we are reminded of the importance of accepting the past as the past and doing what you can to continue on. It is songs like these that highlight the true harmony of the two artists working together.
Kid Cudi has been a protege of Yeezy's for almost a decade, with Cudi helping with Kanye's project '808s & Heartbreak' and Kanye assisting on Cudi's 'Man On The Moon' series. This album is just as important for Kanye as it is for Cudi; it cements him as the producer we had all come to know that somehow got lost along the way during 'Life of Pablo' and more recently, 'Ye'. This is not to say that Kanye is solely responsible for the sound of this project. Cudi is essential for this album; without his spiritualistic energy on the tracks, the album wouldn't feel as cohesive.
The writing is also worth commending - both artists create personal and topical verses that are spun with the precision a spider weaves his web. They span Cudi’s fight for his mental health and Kanye ’s for his soul, and Kanye even takes the opportunity to reference Alice Johnson, the imprisoned grandmother in the headlines recently for being freed by lobbying from Kim Kardashian.
This collaboration features André 3000, Mos Def, Ty Dolla $ign and samples Kurt Cobain's 'Burn the Rain' and Louis Prima's 'What Would Santa Claus Do?', and was produced with help from Plain Pat and Andrew Dawson.
Check out the songs below.
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