The end of 2016 was a difficult time for both Kanye West and Kid Cudi, for they were both hospitalised for issues concerning their mental health. After exchanging visible spats such as West’s comment “Don’t ever mention my name in a bad manner! None of y’all! …I birthed you”, the future of their collaborative relationship appeared rather shaky. However, West was quick to defend Cudi over Drake’s offbeat remarks about his mental health, reaffirming the fondness between the pair that is not only visible in the media, but within their music too.
Earlier this year, West announced to much anticipation that he shall not only be releasing his solo album ‘Ye’ on the 1st of June, but that this shall then be followed by the album ‘KIDS SEE GHOSTS’, the collaborative effort of both West and Cudi. Working under the name of KIDS SEE GHOSTS, the pair harmonise perfectly, with West performing the extravagant extrovert once again, and Kid Cudi providing a more introspective voice as a counter. This is not to say that Kanye is not looking inward for inspiration, as ‘KIDS SEE GHOSTS’ is an album that sees the Chicago rapper penning more emotive lyrics than the LP he released on the 1st of June, with lines such as “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”, coming from the albums closing track ‘Reborn’. Kid Cudi also provides similar moments, with his opening to the track ‘Cudi Montage’ containing his representation of his more troubling moments, with Cudi rapping “See ‘em all strapped in an’ can’t move and Im sinkin’ lower, Heaven gonna help me, Cause I Feel the world weighin’ on me heavy, Tryna keep it steady, Ready for the mission, God Shire your love on me, Save me please”.
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For those hoping for Kanye to return to the use of soul beats that made the album ‘The College Dropout’ such a phenomenal debut may be disappointed, however, West’s verbal flow is more reminiscent of this era than it is of his Yeezus/Pablo period. When West does use his voice for something other than rapping, the disjointed nature of his more current work arises. This is most prevalent in ‘Feel the Love’, a track that features the increasingly dominant Pusha T. The introduction sees Cudi providing the vocal backing, repeating the song’s title with unwavering cathartic strength while Pusha delivers his verse. Then Kanye takes his place within the song, providing layers to the maximalist beat with frantic verbal explosions that are difficult to translate into print. Kanye’s wilder moments upon ‘KIDS SEE GHOSTS’ do not defer from the overarching theme of the album, as the struggle to be better is a topic that comes up in perhaps the entire track list.
The album that Kanye West and Kid Cudi have created is something unique, as it is a record that is not only beneficial to their creators, but to the listeners. Many of West’s most vocal critics devalue his work by focusing on his public persona. Yet, as ever with West’s work, it is the music that speaks the loudest. By working with Kid Cudi this impression is amplified, with the pair not ostracising themselves for past mistakes, but instead, building upon them. By doing so, ‘KIDS SEES GHOSTS’ is a successful exercise in emotional liberation, something that the pair wish to share, and for us to engage with similarly.
‘KIDS SEE GHOSTS‘ is out now via G.O.O.D Music