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The Man on the Moon returns with “Indicud,” the third album that plays a hefty interlude to Kid Cudi’s astronomical series. When describing his latest album, Scott Mescudi (“Kid Cudi”) identified Dr. Dre’s “2001” as his inspiration and said this was the opportunity to add “more energy into [his] signature sound.”

As soon as the album begins, there is little distinct difference from the chilled-out smoke music expected from Cudi.  It isn’t until you delve into the lyrics and the journey to this album that Cudi’s growth is revealed.  Rather than submissive lyrics from “Man on the Moon” and “Man on the Moon II: The Legend of Mr. Rager,” the more confrontational “Ain’t no such thing as Satan, evil is what you make it / Thank the Lord for that burning bush” lyrics from “Just What I Am” establish a different and more positive Kid Cudi. Considering drugs were a major part of his creative outlet in previous works, the sobriety gives him a new sophisticated outlook on life.  Rather than exhibiting anger and submissivity, Cudi’s emotions come from frustration, appreciation and acceptance.

“Indicud” is far from what people expect considering the focal beats and vocals aren’t what are highlighted, as in his previous works. Kid Cudi revisits his past influences with some dark tracks presented in a new way. “Burn Baby Burn,” “Red Eye” and “Lord of the Sad and Lonely” provoke his critics and dysfunctional relationships through a talented rap flow that confronts the feelings and emotions said events instilled. The initially depressing tone builds up in rhythm and lyric into a state of empowerment.

The main transformation lies in the lyrics; rather than an angry high kid, “Immortal” proves his now-positive outlook as a content man “living life as if he got powers.”  It represents Kid Cudi’s resurrection and second chance at life.  Even the pop track “Girls,” while extremely dull and repetitive, exhibits a more upbeat techno sound than his normally relaxed rap lines.

As opposed to his previous albums, self-producing “Indicud” led Cudi’s new sound into a seemingly monotonous groove. Aside from a solid few, the 18 songs blend together with basic drum beats and similar synth sounds. Despite the indistinct sound of the album, the heavy, dark themes served as a prevalent tone and source of inspiration. In addition, Cudi’s experimentation with various genres brings a more positive rapper out on the table. A dash of indie and pop uplift his signature rap flow to a more accessible audience, and the unorthodox choice of featuring artists saves the album from being lost in space. Father John Misty, Michael Bolton (yes, that one), Haim and RZA represent diverse genres and contribute a little piece of everything to create an unclassifiable, psychedelic rap contingent on his weed-filled past.

Scott Mescudi emerged as a new man with “Indicud.” The extreme challenges of producing an album on his own led to a significant growth outside his comfort zone as a musician. His unadulterated freedom created a progressive piece within his own musical niche that will leave listeners earnestly waiting for the conclusion to his “Man on the Moon” series.

Rating: 3 stars