So a quick recap of what I’ve discussed in the first part of my review on KIDS SEE GHOSTS.
In part one, I broke down the first three tracks of the album, Feel the love feat. Pusha T, Fire and 4th Dimension, coming to the conclusion that both Kid Cudi and Kanye has a lot to get off of their chest. Verbalizing the strength that they both now have after dealing with the battle of their mental health and the immense pressure of the public’s opinion. In this part, I will tackle the last four tracks, “Freeee (Ghost Town PT 2), “Reborn“, “Kids See Ghosts“, and “Cudi Montage“, and give my overall opinion about the album as a whole project.
“Freeee (Ghost Town pt 2)” and “Reborn” really extends the journey of overcoming the mental conditions that put Cudi and Kanye in a stagnant state of mind. At the beginning of the “Freeee” track, Political leader Marcus Garvey is heard talking about self-awareness of yourself and mastering the environment around you. Convinced that they have overcome what it was that once hurt them, Cudye reiterates their freedom of other’s judgment of them. “And you know damn well / He lift me up every time that I fell / And set me free, yeah / I felt the chains on me, locked in a cell (and now I’m free)” Throughout the album, Kanye and Cudi both, directly and indirectly, make reference to a higher being, someone/something that has saved them from themselves. A subject matter that fits the acceptance of their newfound spirituality and bringing it forth into their music without the fear of judgment.
May I say something to you to give you a true knowledge of yourself and life?
Man in the full knowledge of himself is a superb and supreme creature of creation
When man becomes possessor of the knowledge of himself, he becomes the master of his environment. – Marcus Garvey
I have to admit that “Reborn” has to be one of my favorite songs on the album because again the message is clear that both Kanye and Cudi is going through a reawakening of the souls. The chorus, sung by Cudi, definitely speaks on the current state of their minds and where they are in life. “I’m so-I’m so reborn, I’m movin’ forward / Keep movin’ forward, keep movin’ forward / Ain’t no stress on me Lord, I’m movin’ forward / Keep movin’ forward, keep movin’ forward.” When Cudi announced that he was going to rehab for anxiety and suicidal urges, he spoke about coming back to his fans, reborn. A goal that he has seemingly accomplished. “Love and light to everyone who has love for me and I am sorry if I let anyone down. I really am sorry. I’ll be back, stronger, better. Reborn.” It wasn’t much of a surprise that Kanye addressed his absence from the public eye in this song since a lot of his peace seems to stem from him being out of the spotlight. Since Kanye’s time in a hospital after a mental breakthrough in November 2016, Kanye’s appearances had become more and more scarce. Kanye admits that the jokes that he hears about himself do have an effect on him and confesses that public appearances keep him tense and drained. “Y’all been tellin’ jokes that’s gon’ stress me out / Soon as I walk in, I’m like, “Let’s be out” / I was off the chain, I was often drained / I was off the meds, I was called insane.” While Cudi again speaks of the peace that he now possesses and realizes that in order for him to get to this place of clarity, he had to look within and make that change in himself. “I had my issues, ain’t that much I could do / But, peace is somethin’ that starts with me, with me / At times, wonder my purpose / Easy then to feel worthless / But, peace is somethin’ that starts with me (with me, with me) / Had so much on my mind, I didn’t know where to go / I’ve come a long way from them hauntin’ me / Had me feelin’ oh so low.” But I’ve noticed that at the end of the song, Cudi still sounds unsure of the path that lies ahead for him, questioning if he is going in the right direction in order to keep this new found peace. A dialogue between his conscious self encouraging his subconscious self to keep moving forward in the direction that he is going in, a task the latter still meets with difficulty.
“Movin’ forward, movin’ forward, movin’ forward
Keep movin’ forward (somethin’s wrong)
Keep movin’ forward (I don’t know why)
Keep movin’ forward (so long)
Keep movin’ forward (sit here in the storm)
Keep movin’ forward (time goes on)
Keep movin’ forward (been lookin’ for my way out)
Keep movin’ forward (from the storm)
Keep movin’ forward (which way do I go?)”
Now when I listen to “Kids See Ghosts“, I can’t help but wonder how Cudi and Ye even came up with the name. And as I theorize the name itself, I strongly believe that Kids See Ghosts is a metaphor of the world (Kids) seeing them in their former selves (Ghosts) and holding them to this image. “Well, it took me long enough to rap on this strong enough / Paid this shit just gon’ give up, ’cause Ye just gon’ live up / To everything that sucks to you and that’s never enough / Thought I’d be clever enough to give up while I’m ahead.” With this new power that they now own, they can’t be convinced or swayed into going back to the old person that they once were. “Stop that movement, stop that movement / Y’all can’t move me, this my movie / Y’all can’t stop me, Y’all too sloppy.” I also feel that Kanye still feels the pressure of being at the top of his game and not being seen as second best in anything that he chooses to pursue. Although Ye is still a religious man, he is still fighting against his ego (old self). A change that will eventually come with time. “Got a Bible by my bed, oh yes, I’m very Christian / Constantly repentin’, ’cause yes I never listen / Don’t like bein’ questioned and don’t like bein’ less / Than any a competition in any of my professions / So I gotta guess then, I gotta stay the best man / What else you expect from, uh, Mr. West, man.” Cudi, however, seems to be more advanced with his thinking and therefore doesn’t come off as combative or conflicted in his verse as Kanye does. “Sittin’ by myself, findin’ heaven soon / Many things that will trouble you / Look beyond for a feelin’ like you never knew / Reachin’ out, huntin’ for the truth.”
The last song on the album is definitely more of Cudi’s “Speedin’ Bullet To Heaven” element and it was well received. “Cudi Montage” is the wrap up of the entire album and if there isn’t any song that sticks out to the position of their mental stance, this is the one. In the first verse of the song, Cudi speaks frank about depression, how it made him feel. Preventing him from seeing the good in the world, and pleading for salvation from these haunting thoughts. “See ’em all strapped in an’ can’t move and I’m sinkin’ lower / Heaven gonna help me / ‘Cause I feel the world weighin’ on me heavy, tryna keep it steady / Ready for the mission / God, shine your love on me, save me, please.” While Kanye revert back to a violent side of himself that has been heard in previous songs. Speaking of the results of peaceful people cycling back to violent tendencies when the time calls for it. “Everybody want world peace / ‘Til your niece get shot in the dome-piece / Then you go and buy your own piece / Hopin’ it’ll help you find your own peace.” Reflecting on the stories that he has either witnessed or learned of, Kanye criticizes the system that imprisons socioeconomically affected people. He even goes as far as using Alice Johnson as an example of someone who became a victim of those who has been unfairly sentenced for non-violent crimes. “All growin’ up in environment / Where doin’ crime the requirement / They send us off to prison for retirement / Hopefully Alice Johnson will inspire men.” Both men refer to topics that plague the world and goes unnoticed at this current time, mental health and prison reform. The overall message of the track is to stay strong and not to fall into the temptation of falling weak. I believe this song was the perfect way to end an album based on spirituality, mental health, and self-revelation. I personally believe this song should be the one song people play for those who believe that Kanye isn’t aware of what goes on in the world or doesn’t care about the things that happen outside of his Calabasas bubble. From “College Dropout” to “Ye“, Kanye has always used his music to express how he is affected by world changes, even if he doesn’t always speak of it.
KSG is the meshing of two intellects unifying and creating a musical brainchild. Although Kanye is shedding many layers of his old self in the music that he is now releasing, I feel like Cudi is still doing the exact same. I take the whole album as an audio diary of two men admirably revealing their truths. Speaking from two different walks of life but managing to combine their separate thoughts and feelings into one. I have waited for this album for so long and I was not disappointed. Maybe if we got this album years ago before their awakening into a new realm of thinking, it wouldn’t be as impactful as it will be for years to come. It makes me even more excited about what stories the albums of Teyana Taylor and Nas will sound like.
I am happy that this album was released during the time when Mental awareness is really taking a front seat in conversations today. With the untimely passings of Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain, we really have to be preceptive and observant of those around us. Reach out to our strong (and not so strong) friends and reassure them that they are not alone. Kanye and Cudi went through their own personal struggles and found peace of mind through opening up to each other. If that isn’t the definition of a true friendship, I don’t know what is.