Of course, as a fan of both artists this review may sound biased, but in my defense, I’ve been waiting for this album for a very long time and I am going, to be honest about it. The 7-track album is the third release of the five-album series that Kanye is exclusively producing. The album comes a week after the release of Kanye’s eighth studio album, Ye, and it is clear that being translucent and vulnerable is the theme of both albums. With Kanye speaking fluently and articulately about his diagnosis with Bipolar disorder, his fear of his daughters growing up too fast and his latest controversial comments, KIDS SEE GHOSTS comes as a revelation in album form. But there is so much to break down when it comes to the meaning of titles, lyrics, and samples choices, that I have to split this review into two parts.
Based on first listen I knew that Kid Cudi had a lot to do with the overall theme of the album. As a longtime fan, I am more than aware that Cudi has always had a very sensitive, yet raw tone to his music. It is the truth and consciousness that makes his music appealing and relatable. But the tone of this album is quite different from anything that these two have done together. An open space for two black men to speak candidly of their experiences during the duration of their careers, publicly and privately.
The first track “Feel the love” sets the mood for the listeners, preparing them for the trip through the minds of Cudi and Ye. The hard opinions from the public have plagued both men during the last few years, and both artists have managed to wither away the negativity. G.O.O.D Music President Pusha T delivers the only rap verse during the song and his execution of expressing the thoughts of Cudye was perfection. “We not worried ’bout no other niggas / we them other niggas / You bust down a Rollie, I bust down a brick, then I flood it, nigga / I am not to be compared to you rappers, Eazy-Duz-It, nigga / I am more Eazy, you tryin’ your best to become me, nigga.” Acknowledging that no other man is better than he but still embracing the love that he does receive, Cudi serenades “I can still feel the love” over Kanye’s audible gunshots. It’s clear that through the love of their supporters, Cudi and Kanye grasp the fact that there are people who don’t want them to succeed.
Just like a well-written book, “Fire” holds a conversation between Kanye, Cudi and their haters. Speaking directly to those who tried to count them out at the lowest point in their lives and letting them know that they are stronger than ever. “You ain’t got nothin’ better to do with yourself / I done proved to myself, back on that rulin’ myself.” Feeding off the negativity from their adversaries seems to be the message between both men. “Check the date, let ’em hate /
This the type shit that they couldn’t make, watch the fakes.” The interesting part of the song is the sample chosen for the track, “They’re coming to take me away” by Napolean XIV. The Protagonist in the song is a man who suffers from a psychotic break after a bad breakup. *Kanye and his hidden messages.*
Kanye’s sampling choices has always been an easter egg for the real music enthusiasts. And while the song itself carries one meaning, sometimes the title sets a whole new mood to the song altogether. “4th Dimension” is the prime example of that theory. The 4th Dimension is the period when the consciousness starts to awake, breaking through all of the old belief systems of the third-dimensional reality. It would come across that Kanye and Cudi start off their verses speaking from the third-dimensional reality transforming to the next level in their lives. Kanye starts off the verse very materialistic and there is even a hint of male chauvinism but has come to terms that he is a changed man and needs to embrace the changes to come. “Might need an intervention for this new dimension / That’s too new to mention or fit in a sentence.” While Cudi refers to depression and anxiety as “she“, he reaffirms to himself and others that he is working even harder to stay healthy even though the worst is not completely behind him. “Such a lost boy, caught up in the darkest I had / What’s the cost, boy? Losin’ everything that I had / She been on me, boy, unless you got somethin’ to tell / Sittin’, waitin’ for me slippin’, yeah, I’ll see you in hell / Tell the cougar get up off me, no, my soul ain’t for sale / All the evils in the world, they keepin’ on me for real / I really hope the Lord won’t hurt me, we all live in sin.” The song also features a sample of the song “What would Santa Clause say” by Louis Prima and spoken word by Shirley Ann Lee.
*I didn’t initially think this post would be this long or even a two-parter, but there are so many layers with this album and every time I listen to it, I discover something new. I have so many thoughts concerning the selection of sampled songs, the meaning behind the lyrics and the vulnerability of these two that it just won’t all fit in one post. So look out for part two out tomorrow!*