Like mentor Kanye West, Kid Cudi specializes in weirdness. You won't find any rhymes about what a badass Cudi is on his debut album, Man on the Moon: The End of Day. This glasses-wearing rapper from Cleveland is all about kicking back, toking up and flipping through his existential angst. West produces a couple of cuts (including the all-star single "Make Her Say"), but contributions by hipster faves Ratatat and MGMT reveal Cudi's real alliance. Taking Lupe Fiasco's nerd-rap into darker, spacier territory (Cudi talks about self-esteem issues), the Kid comes off like a zit-speckled teen simultaneously bemoaning and celebrating his underdog status in his bedroom. The best cuts here — the spare, spooky "Solo Dolo," "Day N Nite"'s haunted-house stroll — musically match Cudi's laments. Split into five acts, Man on the Moon rides a vague central theme about anxiety and isolation for nearly an hour. It's quite a trip — into new-wave hip-hop and into Kid Cudi's tormented mind. — Michael Gallucci
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