Kids See Ghosts feels like the album Kanye and Kid Cudi were wanting to make sometime in the early 2010s when Cudi’s duo WZRD were toying around with rock instrumentation fused with hip-hop. But perhaps the two artists didn’t have the experience or maturity at the time to pull it off. So now here we are, years later with a WZRD co-produced Kanye and Kid Cudi collab; and if that wasn’t enough of a reunion, even the trippy album art was designed by Takashi Murakami, the same guy who created the cover art for Kanye’s Graduation (2007).
This album is either the breaking point after an anthology of self-destructive behaviour, or a moment of clarity and both the Cudster and Kanye have a lot to reflect on. The psych-rock and grunge infused production feels like its been perfectly tailored for Kid Cudi so he can be redeemed for his previous attempts at such a thing. On top of that, Kid Cudi’s rapping and singing are surprisingly good, especially his performance on 'Freeee' and 'Reborn'. You know you’re in for an experience when Kanye comes in full Scatman John style, making onomatopoeia gunshots on the first track – it's honestly something else. On songs where Kanye is rapping, he flows naturally like a stream of consciousness (the title track and 'Reborn' are good examples of this).
The 3-song run of 'Freeee', 'Reborn' and 'Kids See Ghosts' is what really makes this album worth listening to though. 'Freeee' is my favourite of the lot here; the song just feels monolithic and is about the most uplifting moment of the album (which is saying a lot, almost every track on Kids See Ghosts could be described as uplifting to some regard).
The album closes off with a sample of an unreleased Kurt Cobain song in ‘Cudi Montage’, and Kanye delivers some spoken word about gun violence. It's not a bad song and the message is definitely important, but it’s about here where it feels like the album could be losing its steam, which isn’t such a good thing when it is only 23 minutes long. Overall, it's well worth a listen if you're even remotely a fan of Kanye or Kid Cudi’s music.